See the picture to the left? That's me at 40 weeks pregnant. I am not a fan of posting these sorts of half-naked, look-at-me pictures, but there is a point to this picture.
I am an average woman, and I do not have superpowers.
I didn't lift and lift and lift while pregnant. I didn't go running. Throughout my pregnancy, I walked everyday (5-8 miles), lifted my six-year-old, gave her piggyback rides, took the stairs instead of elevators or escalators (15 flights in my building!), did resistance training twice a week, used my body weight, and ate right.
Some weeks went by where I certainly didn't lift weights and that's okay because I maintained an active lifestyle. Hell, for the first twelve weeks, I was so sick with nausea that I couldn't bend over without feeling like I was going to spit up my smoothie! Certainly no lifting happened there...but I always kept moving. I kept working and I kept up everything else that I was doing prior to becoming pregnant (finishing up grad school, homeschooling my daughter, working from home, blah blah blah).
The point is that I want every woman out there, pregnant or not to know that you can stay strong and healthy during your pregnancy. You don't have to give into the stereotypes of pregnancy. Our culture is obsessed with binges, diets, trends, and still telling women that they should "sit down and put their feet up" while growing a baby. No more. Not ever again.
Physical Activity Isn't a Chore
You do not, and I would say that you should not "put your feet up" the entire time you are pregnant. In fact, I would say to do the opposite. Yes, there are women who suffer from terrible prenatal complications, but this isn't about them. This is about the pregnant woman who has nothing in her way to prevent her from maintaining an active lifestyle while pregnant. Walking is a great way to stay fit throughout your pregnancy.
If you were a runner before you were pregnant and you want to keep running, go for it. But also, don't feel as if you have to keep running. It would be fine to switch to long walks. And if you weren't a runner before being pregnant, it's okay to add running into your week despite what others may tell you. And if running sounds awful, then walk.
Walking for an hour or two every single day can help you burn calories, build muscle and decrease stress. The government claims that you should fit in 150 minutes of cardio per week, but I say that is too low...how about 150 minutes of physical activity per day. Fit five miles of walking into your day and I bet you will come out of the other side of pregnancy feeling really great!
Here are some other physical activities you can do to stay strong:
Maintaining an active lifestyle during pregnancy is not only beneficial for you, it is beneficial for your baby. In the December 2013 issue of Pediatric Obesity, a study demonstrated that there is a positive relationship between maternal fitness and infant birth weight. What's that mean? Healthier babies are born to healthier mothers.
Stop Gaining So Much Weight
You do not need to gain 25-35 pounds to sustain a healthy pregnancy. You can definitely gain 25 pounds during pregnancy and be healthy, but let's face it, most women are not gaining within that range. Did you know that 50% of women overgain during pregnancy. And usually these women begin gaining too much weight within the first trimester.
Be prepared for some shocking information. I gained 10 pounds during my last pregnancy. My starting weight was 122 and my weight on the morning that I delivered was 132. I kept a log of my pregnancy pre/post-pregnancy weight this go around because I knew that I'd be writing this post.
I know what you must be thinking. This woman starved herself. Her baby must have been a premie. This woman is an asshole. The first two aren't true, but I am sure that somebody out there will say that I am definitely the third one.
I ate a regular diet of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. I didn't eat out very often and I didn't subscribe to that craving b.s. still floating around in the air. There weren't any pickles or ice cream binges. There was vegan ice cream a few times, but that's just because I love it...not because somebody somewhere told me that pregnant women crave ice cream. For the most part, I ate when I was hungry and drank lots of water. I didn't count calories and I didn't follow any specific meal plan outside of eating wholesome food not from a box.
Just one day before my due date, I delivered a healthy 7.6 pound baby girl measuring at 22 inches. I delivered an average-sized baby who is exceptionally long (now I know what I was hurting near my ribs!). My experience is solid evidence that the current weight gain guidelines are out of touch with the skill set of the female human body.
As you can see from the picture above, I am back to myself (this is roughly 6 weeks postpartum). Actually, I think I am in even better shape now than I was before I started this pregnancy. My post-pregnancy weight is 120 and my core feels incredibly built, which it wasn't like this before week one of my pregnancy. Pregnancy makes you strong and you have to make it a priority to keep yourself healthy before, during and after having a baby.
Pregnancy shouldn't be a time for becoming overweight. After all, you want to be fit and healthy to take care of play with that little baby once she is born, right?
Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about weight either. Only 42% of women are informed about weight during pregnancy by their OBs. But really, this should be a main topic of discussion considering the current state of obesity in our country.
So how can you grow a healthy baby without gaining too much weight?
Simple. Stay active and eat right.
Follow these tips: