I love to tell people with a heavy, longsuffering sigh for extra effect that giving birth (twice!) was the hardest workout I’ve ever experienced.
Harder than running longdistance races. More challenging than taking on a triathlon. And certainly more brutal than any bootcamp.
Labor and delivery, not to mention the 40+ weeks of weight training that a pregnant body naturally puts a woman through, was the sweatiest endurance event I’ve ever attempted.
(And I did both without medication, and in each case, my kids hung out at 9 cm for, oh, HOURS. Someday, I’ll be reminding them of how hard I worked when they’re talking back or throwing a tantrum. Read Audrey’s birth story here and Remy’s here.)
And that’s why I am so passionate about helping other women get fit and healthy before they get pregnant and through the pregnancy period.
- our resting heart rate starts to rise and keeps climbing as we progress in our pregnancies
- our blood volume goes up, especially toward the end
- hormones are going bananas (not a technical term but every pregnant lady who has had mood
swings, hot flashes and more knows what I’m talking about)
- our uterus begins to expand, often moving our internal organs around and causing our pelvis to
And each week, we’re putting on weight, which is sort of equivalent to a trainer asking you to go to a higher set of dumbbells on your next sets of squats and lunges.
In my experience, all of that, plus a regular routine of cardio, strength training and yoga (I wish every pregnant woman would embrace yoga) can make a huge difference in the labor experience and postpartum recovery.
Remember: you will be using your biceps, triceps, lats and delts to grip the bar on your bed and push that baby out. You will be wearing out your core, quads and hamstrings pacing during the long contractions that seem never to let up. You’ll feel labor in just about every muscle of your body, no matter what medication or relief you end up asking for. And then when the baby comes out, you’ll be calling on every joint and muscle group to go beyond what they’ve ever done as you care for him or her.
So, what’s my message? If you’ve not been active before pregnancy, it’s not too late to start now. If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to stay active, keep your eyes on that tiny (or notsotiny) prize. Putting in a few minutes of exercise now will pay off big time when you’re at the end of the birth journey and heading into the amazing and thrilling new life as a mom.
Katy Widrick is a NASM certified personal trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor and the mom of two beautiful girls. She blogs at Healthy Living in a Hectic World, where she also shares tips for staying connected and healthy through social media, blogging and technology. Find her latest workout ideas and more on Pinterest!