Today I was writing another article for this website, and scouring my stock photography service for something…anything…showing a fit, pregnant woman who was exercising. Every single picture either shows a delicate little lady holding tiny pink dumbells next to her perfectly round bump, or lying in a meadow looking like a relaxed, delicate goddess to be waited on, or performing some sort of dainty yoga pose.
Why does light exercise like prenatal yoga, swimming, walking, or lifting little pink dumbbells seem to be the only acceptable form of exercise for us pregnant mamas?
Fear seems to be a prevalent emotion regarding anything having to do with pregnancy. We’re afraid of pain so we take drugs. We’re afraid that being too physical will cause a miscarriage. We’re afraid of sushi. We’re afraid of lifting. Once the line turns pink, we cover ourselves in bubble wrap and become weak and scared. Medical professionals reinforce these fears, scaring us into not taking any risks, and why? To cover their own asses and avoid malpractice, much of the time. (Hopefully the tide is changing in this regard as more doctors are encouraging normal exercise.)
I’ve lost a baby at 23 weeks along. Believe me, I understand the fear. I balled myself up onto a couch for the entire 9 months of my next pregnancy, and just tried to protect my son and avoid the horrible trauma I had just experienced. I get it. But in the process, I actually made myself weaker and probably caused many more problems than if I had just continued life as normal. By the time I delivered him, I had put on 60 pounds, I was out of shape, and had a horrid delivery with multiple interventions and complications.
By adopting the mentality that we’re weaker, more delicate, handicapped, and “sick” during pregnancy, we’re missing out on the best that life as a woman has to offer. There is great strength to be found in being able to perform real exercise while pregnant, and great benefit. Not only does exercise prepare you for labor and delivery, help you feel better during pregnancy, and increase oxygen and reduce stress to your unborn baby, new studies even show that exercise during pregnancy INCREASES your overall athleticism and health benefits, even after you give birth — more than if you had not been pregnant ! It turns out, pregnancy is the perfect conditioning to increase your athletic capabilities, cardiovascular and overall health. Take advantage!
It’s being sedentary that is the real health risk in pregnancy, not killing a great workout.
It is so important to listen to your body at all times during pregnancy. It will tell you when you’re pushing too hard, when you need water, when you aren’t eating right, when you need to rest. Try the exercise. Last week, I was realizing how bored I was with my workouts already. I missed track and field and plyometrics, but for some reason had it in my head that I couldn’t do those things at this point. I thought, why not? And pulled out my agility ladder and tried some drills in between kickboxing. You know what? IT FELT INCREDIBLE. I CAN move my body with some speed and precision still at this point, 6 months along. And it felt SO GOOD, mentally and physically. I’m so glad I gave it a shot.
Don’t let fear rule your decision-making, well, ever, but especially during pregnancy.