How are you all doing?
Keep the entries coming–the giveaway is a legit awesome one! And because I forget things often lately, the giveaway will run until Sunday at 5 p.m. EST. The winner will be announced on Monday.
I’ve been wanting to write a full post on this for forever. A lot of it will mostly be my thoughts, but some of it is based in science & straight from doctors (including mine). So remember that. Also, I am an opinionated person & am sometimes wrong. Remember that too.
**NOTE: I am NOT talking about ANY women who are pregnant who have been advised BY THEIR DOCTOR to not participate in fitness or physical activities. They are obviously an entirely different population (termed “high risk pregnant”). Just want to make that very CLEAR.**
-This post was mostly written to alleviate any concerns women, who were already fit, healthy & regularly exercising, might have or will have when becoming pregnant. I don’t think there is enough written on the topic.-
Fit & Pregnant-a Discussion
When I knew I wanted to get pregnant, I also knew I would not want to simply stop teaching my fitness classes. I also knew I wanted to keep the pregnancy a secret as long as we could (and until we saw the baby/heard the HB), so I also knew I really couldn’t change too much with my fitness routine without anyone knowing or guessing.
(that’s a lot of knowing! hah)
I also really love teaching fitness classes, so stopping doing that wasn’t even a thought. Honestly, that wasn’t even a consideration.
So imagine my surprise when people found out I was pregnant, and they were like “wow, I can’t believe you’re still doing what you’re doing!” Most meant it in awe, but some did mean it as in ‘you’re a little crazy-are you sure you’re supposed to be doing that?’
I’m not offended when people are curious or have their opinions. However, it does make me SAD that we have that stigma (or maybe I think it’s still there), that pregnant ladies should not do much physical activity.
Where does that COME from?!?
Welll……Most pregnant books recommend 30 mins of moderate cardio most days of the week. Uhhhhh that is walking or doing the elliptical. Fine stuff, for sure, but just that? Really? Furthermore, there is not much about lifting weights, balance work, stretching, participating in races, or doing more fitness than 30 mins per day in those books. In fact, the way that it’s often written about, it seems to discourage pregnant women from doing those more vigorous activities. (and I’m not talking about potentially dangerous activities like contact sports & such)
What the heck?!
Oh, and don’t get me started on the whole “keep your heart rate at 140 or below” nonsense. Because that is what it is–nonsense. It is not based in science. It comes from the idea that at higher heart beat rates not enough blood would get to the baby in between the beats; however, the danger really comes from raising your core body temperature too high. Not the actual heart beat rate.
Besides, why 140?? Seriously-so lame that some people think that still. AND some docs still tout that!! Gah. Drives me bonkers. And get this, because fitter people can actually get their heart rates higher than persons who are not as fit & still be ‘safe’ (because of a well-trained, effective heart & cardiovascular system), this really doesn’t apply to anyone that is moderately fit. At all.
A few weeks ago I talked to a spin instructor (so lots of sprints & HIIT work) who has taught spin & raced throughout 3 pregnancies (all very healthy babies & labors, btw), and she said she simply checks in with herself: if she’s breathing, the baby’s breathing. If she’s not breathing (can’t catch her breath, can’t talk), the baby’s not breathing. I thought that was a nice way to put it!
I also think it’s sad that these ‘guidelines’ are so because I believe it might encourage pregnant ladies who don’t feel great (trust me, the 1st tri can suck, totes understand), to not do much of anything at all. When in reality, the exercise & the endorphins that come from that, could make them feel SO much better. Our body loves endorphins–pregnant or not!!
Not to mention how much healthier the baby might be because of the activity. Using the pregnancy tiredness & being sick definitely counts, for sure, but for the entire 40 weeks? I don’t think so. You’re just doing yourself & your baby a disservice.
And here’s more evidence I’m right:
We’ve been reading a book about baby brain development (“Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart & Happy Baby from zero to five“) from one of the top developmental biologists in the nation, John Medina (he’s also the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning). Out of the dozens of studies & years of work that he’s completed, he’s found that consistent physical activity is really, really amazingly good for the baby & the baby’s brain development. He’s also found that the labors are shorter for those women who were more fit/physically active during their pregnancies. (I’ve heard that before too). Of his top 4-5 recommendations of what to DO when you’re pregnant if you want an awesome baby (hehe), is to STAY FIT if you already are, and to EXERCISE regularly if you’re a newbie. <–obv w/doc’s approvals
So why is it still so surprising to some people that pregnant ladies work out & want to stay fit (not necessarily ‘look’ fit or feel ‘fit’ though<–b/c that will not be the case!) throughout their pregnancy? Are those people jealous? And why do we think some pregnant ladies buy into that load of BS about not getting the HR up too high & just ‘walking’?
Personally, I think we as pregnant ladies need to man up! If you’re fit before pregnancy, there is NO reason (unless your doc says so), that you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. My doc 110% agrees with this & told me to do this. His only rec was that I not teach more than 1.5 hours/day –simply because it’s tough to eat enough to compensate. (And I agree).
Of course exercises do need to be modified as the belly grows (that’s a no brainer), but stopping a safe, fitness routine simply because you’re pregnant? Lamesauce. **See note at the beginning of the post if this statement bothers you**
I think I really wanted to write this because of all the grief, questions, and nonanswers I was getting before I met with my doctor. I really was worried I was hurting the baby b/c my HR does NOT stay below 140 very often when teaching. And lots of crap on the Internet scared me. I obviously didn’t want to hurt my baby, but deep down, I knew that a 140 HR for me was ridic. Also, can you believe that one of the nurses (she was quite a bit older, mind you), told me that “yah, 150 is tops” for my HR? Yah……
Well, I actually can believe it. With some of the stuff I’ve read (even written by doctors!!) in pregnancy books, I’m astounded more people aren’t fighting back to get those editions changed!
With all of this being said though, pregnant ladies who are fit before & want to stay strong throughout the pregnancy, know this:
- it is not a time to set goals in the realm of getting FITTER
- your body WILL change-but it can still be & stay strong
- your baby comes first–so at ANY sign of discomfort, STOP
- you must drink more water than normal -before, and especially after exercise
- you’ll probably get some weird stares or condescending comments-ignore them
- if you get dizzy or faint, STOP exercising
I do realize all pregnancies are different, blah blah blah, but if you’re fit & healthy before, don’t let ANYONE stop you from continuing to be as fit & healthy as YOU can be once you’re pregnant.
**Once again, this does not apply to any pregnancies that are high risk or pregnancies that are being monitored closely by a doc. Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.**
- I am super grateful for a wonderful lunch hour with an amazing friend yesterday (above pic is my food)!! And the yummy food we got. MMmmmm. My friend treated me, so so nice!
- I am thankful for watermelon. Gosh, I love that fruit.
- I am really thankful for strong legs. I love my legs!
I can’t wait to hear (!!)–what are YOUR thoughts on the discussion about fitness & pregnancy?!? What have YOU experienced or seen friends/family members experience in pregnancies with fitness?? What are YOU thankful for today??