Long ago are the days of a sedentary pregnancy for baby’s safety. In fact, long ago are the days of – insert old- wives tale – pregnancies. Pregnant women, more so than any other genre, are privy to advice, solicited or not, from everyone. It might be from her mother, the Dr. or even the stranger that feels it is ok to awkwardly touch a stranger’s belly. Whoever the advise- giver, what remains true for all these “helpful” people is that they most likely mean well, and are all most likely way off. From not lying on your back, to not lying on your stomach, to not running or being in hot tubs, all the way to avoiding lunch meant and taco trucks, pregnant women, lucky girls, get to hear it all.
Today, when there are about as many opinions about pregnancy as there are pregnant women it is almost impossible to decide what to believe, whose information is correct, which study is accurate, and just what is going to be right for any given baby. Of course there is always trusting mother’s intuition, but especially when it is a first child the mother often feels her intuition could use some back- up. These issues become especially prevalent when the woman in question is athletic. Most people would probably assume that a physically fit, athletic pregnancy might be the best kind; however that is just not the case. In a society increasingly competitive and open-minded there is still a thriving debate about what a woman’s body is capable of and where and when she should draw the line; especially during her pregnancy. For every “go get ‘em tiger” a pregnant woman gets, she will get at least two “that doesn’t sound like a good idea’s.” Of course it works both ways.
In 1985, a fairly recent 29 years ago in the grand scheme of pregnancy, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists released a study suggesting that a pregnant woman should limit exercise so the heart rate doesn’t exceed 140 BPM. For a truly athletic woman this just seems silly as exercising to 140 BPM, for the very athletic, would be the equivalent of perhaps a light jog. Of course, as suggested earlier in the article there is always an “other” side, and the grass is greener, if that’s what you are looking for.
More and more doctors as well as pregnant women are taking the much more realistic approach of “listen to your body.” If you were active before pregnancy there is no reason to take to the couch now. Of course there is also no reason to beat your current mile time or set a new bench press record at the gym. It sounds like, as is true with all good things, there is some sort of balance. The American Pregnancy Association is one such organization encouraging pregnant women: “If you have been following a regular exercise program prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree throughout your pregnancy.” This is great news for some, but no doubt will remain a grim suggestion to others.
Every pregnancy, just like every person, is different. Thus each foray into the crazy rollercoaster ride that is being pregnant is going to require different things. Following the doctor’s advice and listening to your body will go a long way in terms of enjoying a healthy, fit and athletic pregnancy, if that is what you are looking for. There is no “right” answer and there are certainly many “wrong” answers, however following a healthy diet, of course with the occasional splurge, and exercising regularly albeit moderately (specific to your fitness level) will no doubt help to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery for both mama and baby.
By Heather Everett