I had my first IUI last Sunday and was given the following written list of instructions (verbatim) to follow during the Two Week Wait:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid sun bathing, saunas, hot tubs, and long hot baths
- Try to keep heart rate at or below 140, recreational walking, swimming, and biking are okay. Avoid water submersion day of IUI.
- Intercourse is okay, encouraged on day of and day after IUI
- Tylenol products are okay. Do not use Ibuprofen.
- Please check with your physician before taking prescribed medication.
While this is the general list of suggested guidelines for any woman trying to conceive (TTC), there are pretty stark dividing lines in many womens’ stance on some of these issues. Some women will tell you it’s okay to “drink til it’s pink” (referring to getting a + pregnancy test) on the alcohol and caffeine issue, while others would staunchly support abstaining from both substances while TTC. Regarding keeping your HR below 140, some women will say to take it easy, others will spout off all of the research about how exercise during pregnancy has a whole slew of health benefits. I’m not here to debate whatever your position is, but just keep in mind that what is acceptable or practical for each woman during her two week wait is bound to vary to a certain degree.
While nothing about this listed was surprising to me, there was one bullet point on the list that I personally took issue with: keeping my HR below 140. There are several schools of thought as to what level of exertion you should or shouldn’t reach during pregnancy, but the one that makes most sense to me is that you shouldn’t exert yourself to a level that you can’t speak. Sprint and power training that maximizes your heart rate and takes you into the anaerobic zone (like track or spin bike sprints, box jumps, and 1 rep max power lifting) should be avoided – understood. But, seeing as how I work out 1) regularly and 2) vigorously, I can workout with my heart rate in the 160’s and continue to talk, albeit with some breathiness between phrases. This is the level where I like to work out. Power walking and light resistance workouts don’t really do it for me.
So, I felt like I was in a dilemma: do I modify my favorite workouts to keep my heart rate under 140 or do I buck doctor’s orders and work out at the threshold where I’m comfortable (in order to maintain both my sanity and my sense of wellbeing)?
I weighed the pros and cons and set up some rules of thumb [for ME, not as a general rule] that I’m sharing simply for some perspective as to how you can think about some of the choices that you make during your two week wait.
- Working out is my BEST form of stress release. It gives me energy, endorphins, and calms my mind and adrenaline levels. If I felt like I couldn’t exercise it would stress me out even more.
- My body is USED to exercising so I imagine that it will be harder on my system from a stress and anxiety perspective to curb it altogether.
- Increasing your heart rate increases your blood flow. Since I have a unicornuate uterus, my acupuncturist is all about helping to increase blood flow through my body, as increased blood flow to the uterus can help build a nice rich lining. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense.
Based on these factors, I set up these parameters for myself:
- Wear a heart rate monitor (with my Garmin watch) while I work out.
- If my heart rate exceeds 160 bpm, throttle back until it drops to the 140’s.
- Generally try to stay between 130-150 bpm.
- Don’t lift too heavy (excessive strain) and no sprint (anaerobic) workouts.
- Take one extra rest day per week or whenever my body feels tired.
Writing this list made me so incredibly happy and helped take some of the stress of this TWW. I found a great way to keep my exercise routine but take it down a couple of notches from my normal pace, simultaneously giving my body the stress relief, rest, and blood flow it would need to potentially support a pregnancy.
Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, so you should not by any means use this list as a means to justify how you should exercise during the two week wait/ while pregnant.
However, DO remember that every body is different and needs to be treated differently in order to maximize its wellness. If you need help defining what this looks like for you, talk to your doctor or to a trained professional who specializes in prenatal exercise and nutrition.