“Project Fit Pregnancy” started off as a kind of experiment. I didn’t know exactly what would happen, or how active I’d be able to be, or if my activity would have an affect on he pregnancy at all, but I had promised myself after Garrett was born, that I would get in shape before getting pregnant again, and maintain my fitness to whatever degree possible throughout subsequent pregnancies.
I think it’s safe to say that the results were all positive. The pregnancy was much easier and less painful, though I admit, as things got farther along, working out became very hard.
I may not have gotten into the greatest shape between pregnancies, but I’m satisfied that I maintained my fitness level to the best of my ability, and that it really did have a positive impact on pregnancy… and maybe even labor.
Here’s a short list of some of the things I’ve learned (no really, it is short!):
- Squatting trumps kegels. It really does, and that’s probably the biggest and best advice I could give to an expectant mother. Do your squats!
With Garrett, I started out with a midwife who was a big believer in kegeling. I have nothing against this midwife by the way, in fact, I love her! But I think she’s mistaken here. 300 kegels every day didn’t do anything to ward off stress incontinence, or a weak pelvic floor post-partum. It was months before I could perform jumping jacks without, well, you get the idea.
This pregnancy, I followed my current midwife’s advice to squat and not kegel. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t advising weighted squats, but that’s what I chose to do.
I have no idea to what degree body-weight only squats are beneficial, but I can tell you that today, my pelvic floor feels strong, as it has since the day I gave birth.
- Lifitng during pregnancy isn’t necessarily the evil that it’s made out to be. Of course, I would certainly recommend that you have a history of lifting before getting pregnant. Being a beginning lifter during pregnancy could be dangerous for more than one reason.
- Staying in shape is hard. It really is. There were many days when I asked myself if all this was really worthwhile. I think those days started sometime during the 3rd trimester. The answer is yes! Staying in shape is emphatically not more difficult than being in pain, dealing with incontinence, or excessive weigh gain. With that said,
- Some days are better than others. They just are.
- Kick starting a stubborn ATV multiple times in a day does not contribute to having a good day. ‘Nuff said.
- Your first pregnancy doesn’t have to be your best pregnancy. I’ve always heard that it’s all downhill after number one. Well, I can tell you that this pregnancy was decidedly further up the hill than Garrett’s. I’m sure that at some point, with an aging body that’s already been around the block a time or five, this becomes true. I’m just saying it’s not exclusively true.
- Despite what the experts say about it, if cardio causes back tension, it’s not worth doing.That said…
- walking and swimming are not the only forms of cardio out there. Kettlebell swings for instance are a great way to work up a sweat and train some muscles while remaining structurally correct. You can see why I love kettlebells here.
- Don’t give up bicycling altogether just because you couldn’t do it during the second or early third trimester. Once the baby drops, it’s a lot more comfortable that walking.
And a bonus:
- Just because you feel really good three days after giving birth doesn’t mean you should ditch your midwife’s advice to take it easy for a couple weeks. Ask me how I know…
It’s honestly driving me a little crazy that I can’t work out right now – not that I really have the time anyway. Working out has just become such a habit that it feels a little weird not to be lifitng anything.
As to when it’s safe to start picking up the barbell again (or running or… whatever), I don’t know. I’ve heard everything from 12-16 weeks, to “just listen to your body”. I did do a few body-weight squats yesterday with no ill effects – not that I expected any, but I don’t think it’s wise to put stress on the pelvic floor or abdominals by adding weight yet. So I guess I must be in “listen to your body” mode.