Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Part Two: Pregnancy

I credit working out during my pregnancy for my quick recovery from pregnancy and labor.  I had to have a c-section after two and a half hours of pushing.  E's birth time was 5:50 am and by lunch time on that same day, I was catheter and IV free and up and walking around the hospital.  This is not typical behavior of someone recovering from an invasive stomach surgery.  When we were walking, the nurses and doctors always said,  "You must have worked out during your pregnancy."  I'm thinking this is a clue into quick recovery.  My husband who is a physician was even able to pull some strings and I was released from the hospital the next day because I was feeling so great.  I started walking a lot when I got home and within three weeks, I was able to jog/walk with the stroller.  Again, this is not normal post-pregnancy behavior but I KNOW the only reason I was able to do this was because I remained very active during the pregnancy.

Having always been an athlete, I was not someone who was ecstatic at every change my body went through in pregnancy. I was really scared that my body would never be the same and I knew I didn't want to be one those people who have babies and then never get the baby weight off. My approach to this was about prevention. In my first trimester I was beyond exhausted all the time. When I was able, I was taking up to three naps a day! When you are that tired, the last thing you want to do is get out and go for a walk or run. One thing that I found that really helped me get some energy was to go ahead and go on that walk, even if it was super short. Usually the exhaustion eases up a little bit in the second and third trimester and that's when you can really focus on keeping your shape while you are seemingly losing it.

Depending on what your activity of choice is, you can do it through your pregnancy but at a lower level of intensity. I ran up until 33 weeks of my pregnancy but I was also a runner before I was pregnant. The picture above is me from a 5k that I ran at 23 weeks. I hit the gym and lifted weights about three days a week because that's what I had done before. In both activities my level of effort went down. I ran slower and allowed (made) myself walk if I was feeling too fatigued. I quit bench pressing (something about laying flat on your back) and switched to lighter weights on inclined press. And yes, I received a lot of funny looks and even had people tell me I was going to hurt the baby, which is FALSE by the way. If you weren't active before, now is not the time to be planning any marathons. However, if you were not active before, now is the perfect time for you to take up walking!

Walking is something every pregnant woman can do unless, of course, you are on bed rest from your doctor. Start out small; take a walk around the block or a track. If you start feeling faint, you are doing too much and stop immediately. It's about learning your body's cues and knowing the difference between a work out and being over worked. I think a lot of people confuse these two (even those that aren't pregnant). It's okay to sweat. It's okay to get your heart rate up a little. If you are not able to talk through whatever activity you are doing, it's too hard for pregnancy. Research has shown that babies that are born to mothers who had an active lifestyle tend to have a better heart. Who doesn't want that for their child?! Here is a planned out walking program for you.

Light weight training is something else you can start during pregnancy. Emphasis on light. Squats with no weight have been known to give your lower body extra stamina during labor. No, it will not cause you to go into labor. It is about form. Keep your back straight and don't let your knees go beyond your toes. Training your back muscles can also prove to be beneficial when you start feeling the weight of the baby out front. You can always Google how to do these sorts of moves or of course, ask me if you have no idea! For more information on weight lifting during pregnancy, check out the link below.

Yoga. After typing that word I have to take a moment and pay respect to this one thing that single handedly helped my back pain during pregnancy.

I had this really awesome thing happen that a lot of women experience and that is where the baby is positioned on a nerve. When I think of pregnancy and how I felt during, I remember this crippling pain. For some reason, sitting made it worse so once I got in the car to drive to work, I was screwed for the rest of the day. I would take my heating pad and yoga mat and lie on the floor of the classroom during planning period. Luckily (or maybe not), my students were used to my crazy antics that this didn't surprise them if they happened to come into the class at that time. I could run fine but sit down...bizarre.

I discovered this really awesome pregnancy yoga DVD that really helped my back during this time. It is called “Yoga for your Pregnancy: Your Guide to Prenatal Fitness and a Healthy Birth.” To be honest, I only did the first practice but it was all I ever needed. I still do some of those exercises when my back is feeling stiff. You can find it on Amazon here:

Well, that's all I have for right now. I must say that Fit Pregnancy magazine was my bible during my pregnancy. I hope to have helped. :)

Part One: Pre-Pregnancy

So you want to have a baby? You and your partner have decided that now is as good a time as any to start your family. Yippee!!! You could just get down and dirty and be on your merry little way OR you can plan for the healthiest pregnancy for you and your baby and you can plan ahead for your post pregnancy body.

Prenatal Vitamins

Why are these things so stinkin' important? Well, they contain way more folic acid, which reduces the chance of having spinal and brain defects in the baby, than a normal multivitamin. They also contain more iron which helps the baby's growth and development as well as helps prevent anemia in you. Now obviously there have been millions of babies born without taking a prenatal vitamin as a preventative measure, but my thought is if you can have a little extra help, why not use it?

Here is a link for more detailed information. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prenatal-vitamins/PR00160


Obviously, fitness should be a part of everyone's life regardless of the reasons. However, studies have shown that the healthier a woman is before pregnancy, the better her chance of getting pregnant as well as having a healthy pregnancy is. Also, a healthy lifestyle can help your man have healthier sperm too!

Where to start? : WALKING. Anyone can do this! If you have joint problems, walk in a swimming pool or just swim in the pool. Find a fun class that interests you. Start some light weight training. You'll want the extra strength to carry around that big belly and help push that baby out. Trust me. Hire a personal trainer or ask a friend who knows about this stuff to help you out. If anyone truly loves the fitness world, they love to share and help. Trust me. I LOVE it when someone asks me for help, especially if they are really serious about changing their lifestyle. Want more on this? http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/getready_fit.html


As with above, you should try to eat healthy anyway and not just because you're trying to get pregnant. So not dwelling on that, here are some foods that are rumored to help with fertility.

Dairy: something in the calcium can make it easier to conceive.

Lean Animal Protein: chicken and turkey provide a good amount of iron which is one of the main reasons for taking the prenatal vitamin. Protein also helps build lean muscle.

Fish: it seems like everyday there is more good news about Omega 3s. If you're like me and don't like to eat fish, definitely take a fish oil supplement. If you are against animal-whatever, I believe they have those supplements as well.

Complex Carbs: Eating these more pure carbs such as whole wheat, whole grains, fruits, and so on take longer to digest and don't spike your insulin levels which can mess with your menstrual cycle. If you are trying to conceive, now is really the time to stay away from white bread, white rice, and basically any processed snack.

Yams: yams are full of zinc that supposedly juices up ovulation.

Wrap Up

I am not a health professional, I'm just offering some knowledge that I have acquired. I posted some links, but I encourage everyone to do their own research. I hope you have found this helpful. :)


I know that I have taken some time off from blogging, but I have been delightfully surprised at how many people have asked me when I was going to write again. What?! I have people who actually read this stuff?! Thanks for making me feel good! :)

I have been inspired in the last couple of weeks to write about pregnancy health and post-pregnancy health. Now I know that not everyone is at the point in their lives to have children, but maybe this is something you could use down the road or pass on to someone who may be interested.

This is going to be in a three part series because I want to be thorough in each section and then you can skip to whichever part fancies you. :)