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January 30, 2024

My Fitness in Pregnancy 1 vs Pregnancy 2

Today we get personal, because questions regarding my fitness and muscle retention in pregnancy number 2 vs pregnancy number 1 – and more specifically how number 2 was BETTER – come up weekly…

And…I get annoyed answering over and over. Which is great!  You clearly want to know, which I understand, and this gives me a way to package it all up for you in ONE blog post.

If you’d told me in January 2022 that I’d have two babies earth-side in January 2024 AND….feel the best physically that I’ve felt in the last five years…I’d have actually slapped you across the face.

But, that’s my current reality, two pregnancies and an emergency C section later, we’re still lifting, building, and on our new quest to become a muscle mommy.

Prefer to learn on video? Watch here.

 I am Annie Miller and I help you learn as you train without having to figure it out for yourself.

So let’s discuss aesthetics (even though I don’t sell fitness based on aesthetics, or discuss aesthetic goals regularly in my content) I do have aesthetic goals for myself.

When I said in the intro that I feel my best physically – I was referring to, in the gym. IE under the barbell, my joints, how well I am moving, my strength retention and so on.

I don’t want to paint the picture that I am head over heels for my 9 month pregnant physique. Because I am most definitely not.

I think the female vessel is a freaking miracle, and I am so so so grateful for, and amazed by what my body has done (twice now)….

BUT, I’d absolutely prefer to do life in my not pregnant body.

Before we compare my fitness in pregnancy 1 vs pregnancy 2 from a nutrition, fitness, and lifting standpoint be sure to check out my BEBE 2 announcement video. 

She’s over 20 minutes long, but worth the listen if you’re at all curious about other aspects of my pregnancies.

The cliff notes (main factors) of this comparison are:

  1. That I had anti-nausea meds the second time, and was able to train through my first trimester.

2. I was still re-comping from pregnancy 1 and my body didn’t feel foreign.

– thus I felt comfortable continuing to push the weight through my 34th week and beyond of pregnancy.

Let’s break it down.

The first game changer between my fitness in pregnancy 1 vs pregnancy 2:


How I entered each pregnancy played a BIG ROLE in my fitness.

In pregnancy 1, I was dealing with some lingering hip and back pain – which I recorded a podcast about a few months before getting pregnant. 

I’d just started seeing a sports masseuse and implementing some of the exercises she was having me do in order to address issues I was experiencing.

These issues were keeping me from lifting the way I most enjoyed.

So, this was my state when I got pregnant.  I was already in pain and not training the way I enjoy , which I got the best results from.

Then the nausea set in around week 8 and I was DOWN FOR THE COUNT. We’re talking, immobile. My polar watch literally said 3% daily activity most days.

The lack of movement just perpetuated the pain I was feeling pre-pregnancy. I had terrible SI joint and tailbone sensitivity. I didn’t start training again until week 15, and not consistently I’d say… until week 19 when I started Mamastefit’s birth prep program.

We didn’t have insurance (which was a whole other stresser) so I didn’t have access to anti-nausea meds.

And we musn’t forget that in weeks 24-34 of pregnancy 1, I had two bouts of MRSA in both armpits and a gnarly yeast infection between those that GREATLY hindered my ability to train. 

That season was super frustrating to me because I actually felt AWESOME in my second trimester of my first pregnancy.

I trained as much as I could but my frequency and intensity were both lacking due to nausea in the first tri, and those infections in the second and third tri.

Flash forward to pregnancy 2…S0. MUCH. DIFFERENT.

Hello insurance! Having a family medicine practice and access to anti-nausea meds at week 6, I was pounding those puppies every morning and night. Mind you, I was also four months postpartum, and very much still recovering from sleep deprivation and my C section. But I’d been training consistently since week 5 of being postpartum. So, I was honestly feeling good.

The fatigue was still REAL in the first tri, and I still experienced nausea, but they took the edge off enough that I was able to MOVE. 

And I learned that I didn’t feel any better or worse in terms of nausea if I lifted or not.

So, it was like, I might as well lift, feel good about getting a lift in, and have some me time if I am going to feel the same.

To recap that…

I’d been consistently training 4 days per week for almost 3 months at the start of pregnancy 2, was in less joint pain, had access to anti-nausea, and so far, no MRSA or yeast infections, THANK JESUS..

Now, when I say “training” in that early postpartum era, I essentially JUST started feeling like I could TRAIN with challenging weights at the 16 week mark. Which was shortly before I found out I was pregnant with bebe two.

The first 12 weeks of training for me were very much “recovery” based.

That leads into how I felt in my actual body and the intensity at which I was able to train.


I HANDS DOWN trained way harder and more consistently through my second pregnancy than my first.

Part of that is due to those anti-nausea meds, as well as their effect on allowing me to CONSUME protein. 

My diet was FAR SUPERIOR the second pregnancy than the first. But we’ll get into that next.

By the time I got pregnant with bebe two, my body hadn’t found homeostasis post baby 1 yet. 

On one hand, I was still learning her. But on the other hand, I was MUCH MORE acquainted with her from having experienced all the changes from pregnancy 1, as well as the rehab from postpartum.

My body just felt WAY LESS foreign at the start of pregnancy 2…

Like the changes in my joints and movement patterns had already taken place. 

This allowed me to feel more comfortable progressing through my training, using heavier weight and even doing movement patterns that felt iffy the first go around.

For example, In my first pregnancy I didn’t back squat AT ALL. 

It just felt awful on my hips and back.

In my early postpartum training, I followed Mamastefit C section recovery 16 week program.

I did a TON of pelvic floor, core and hip work. By 12 weeks I was back squatting with no discomfort, and have continued to do so throughout the second pregnancy.

Though I did sign up again for Mamastefit’s prenatal programming, I ended up just programming for myself.

And I LOVED training the way I enjoy most, WITH the implementation of all the prenatal work I learned from bebe 1.

I experienced little to no pain this pregnancy – and if I have, it’s been in times of less movement (no surprise)…

And I treated myself far less fragile simply because…

1. I actually feel less fragile, and 

2.  I gained confidence from round 1, knowing I could likely push much harder through pregnancy and feel fine…maybe even BETTER than if I didn’t push.

So…I did, and it’s been THE BEST.

That has been in large part due to nutrition, and re-comping, using postpartum and pregnancy two as a kind of “building phase.”

I say that last part VERY carefully – And want to be clear in my perspective and approach.


Entering pregnancy number one I was eating fine but not tracking anything. Maybe just protein at the time.

My first trimester, once the nausea set in, my eating was comprised of bean burritos, grapes, sour patch kids, bagels and doritos…Pair that with my lack of activity and you can imagine the physical changes that took place.

Weight gain + muscle loss.

Compare that with pregnancy number 2.

I was already using postpartum journey number 1 as a re-comp and building phase. Meaning I was not in active deficit.

My goal was to PUT ON MUSCLE.

Upon becoming pregnant, that goal remained the same.

Would pregnancy NORMALLY be the time to pack on muscle? No.

But the context here is that I was under-trained from pregnancy 1 and rebuilding from postpartum. So, I was atrophied and there were “newbie gains” to take advantage of.

Back to nutrition – a few things to note in pregnancy 2.

I was tracking my food just to see where I was, and to mainly be sure I was getting 130g of protein. Remember, my goal was to put on muscle (as well as recover from tissue from a C section – which high quality protein is important for).

Due to the anti-nausea meds in the first tri of pregnancy 2, I was able to keep my diet mostly the same – high protein and way more diverse and regular than pregnancy 1.

This factor, mixed with the higher loads and consistent training = better body composition and muscle gain + retention through the second pregnancy.

Here is a photo of week 4 pregnancy 1 and week 24 pregnancy 1. 

And week 4 (also early postpartum) and week 27 pregnancy 2.

I felt my overall body composition continued to IMPROVE through week 30 of pregnancy at least. 

Then the goal became to just maintain muscle and as much strength as possible while managing pelvic floor pressure and any symptoms I was having.

So the better maintenance of muscle and overall body comp in pregnancy 1 vs pregnancy 2, came from a combination of:

  • 1.  Capitalizing on newbie gains to be had in postpartum
  • 2.  Feeling more “at home” in my body and being in less pain
  • 3. Access to anti nausea meds and being able to consume adequate protein
  • 4.  All of that allowed me to be consistent with at least four days of lifting per week. As well as push the intensity within that training in comparison to pregnancy 1.

The last factor I’ll mention about my fitness in pregnancy 1 vs pregnancy 2, is simply that this…it wasn’t my first rodeo…


I gained SO. MUCH. KNOWLEDGE. About my body and training and managing symptoms – what did and didn’t work for my body during pregnancy etc.

So, in addition to FEELING more at home in my body the second time, my knowledge base also gave me far more confidence in my approach with bebe 2.

Have you trained through more than one pregnancy? Did you find differences With each? I know that it can be so variable, even with one woman and multiple pregnancies.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

I will catch you guys in the next one.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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