My husband put this question to me during a training session over Christmas.
The truth is, I’d never thought about when I was going to stop and hadn't really planned to unless until I stopped enjoying it or physically couldn't (or shouldn’t) be continuing.
Despite being eight months preggo, working out still felt good so, particularly when the only alternative was staying home (sad times), I was going to train.
A friend recently told me she was in early labour with twins when she was turned away (perhaps unsurprisingly) from an aqua-natal class (absolute legend) so you really can choose to move right up until that last day if that's what you want to do.
Labour is potentially one of life's greatest endurance events so I’m not planning to quit training with only a few weeks to go.
You wouldn’t stop marathon training a month out from race day.
That said I'll not be putting any pressure on myself to do so and as you'll see below, things have changed as I head into the final few weeks.
What I have done, particularly over the last few weeks (34 to 38), is to start reigning things in and making far more adjustments.
A bit like how you'd taper your runs in the lead up to the big race day expect in this case, your body really doesn't leave you with a whole lot of choice.
My cycles are shorter, I’ve swapped roads for parks, and stay close to home (I did stop cycling completely at 38-weeks when my belly started touching the seat when leaning forwards.);
I take days of complete rest (including from walks which feel like cardio now);
Weights are lower, rests are longer and intensity levels are way down;
I’ve removed exercises that cause joint pain or niggles;
I’m doing more pregnancy-specific workouts to help prepare the body for birth;
Most importantly my mindset has switched and sessions I would never have classed as a ‘workout’ even a few weeks ago are now a fully accepted part of my training schedule.
The goalposts have naturally moved once again, but for now, movement is still keeping me going mentally and physically. I fully appreciate not everyone feels this way about exercise and although I would always advocate exercise for health, at this late stage you need to do what makes you feel good.
If that's sitting on the sofa eating a packet of biscuits then so be it. Rest and self-care are necessary (in whatever form they take) so do not feel guilty.
You have to do what feels right and trust your instincts.
The Final Stretch
I initially wrote the above post over three weeks ago and at that time that is how I felt. However, my thoughts on training have evolved once again as D-Day approaches (post 39 weeks). The closer you get to the end the more likely it becomes that Labour can literally occur at any moment. This somehow manages to ignite a combination of extreme excitement and utter terror.
I've started feeling more exhausted and rest has become much more of a priority. Unless you know exactly what time you're giving birth, you can't plan to a couple of rest days in advance to get over a long walk or that workout you opted for when what your body actually needed was a nap.
Going back to the marathon analogy, if someone were to spring a marathon on you with no prior warning, you wouldn't want to have just finished a 10km run.
The goals have shifted once again and I'm ensuring that none of my 'workouts' (yesterday's involved 20 minutes of shoulders and arms whilst staying seated throughout) require any recovery and I'm as rested as I can be at this stage.
I'm scheduling a nap every day this week and if my body is tired, rest is 100% the priority.
Preparation is key.