“Work it, baby”

As a soon-to-be first-time mom, I’ve been reading a lot about pregnancy – obviously. Gotta make sure what I’m feeling is normal, assure myself what’s happening to my body has happened to other women, and, most importantly, the things I’m doing are good for baby.

One of the things I haven’t given much thought to: working out. We hear nothing about positives of exercise and, as long as I’m following doc’s orders to listen to my body, I think it’s a great habit to keep during pregnancy.

Then I read the Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and wow. Does the author paint working out to be just about the worst thing a woman can do when she’s pregnant – like, right up there with alcohol, street drugs, and probably driving superfast on a four-wheeler with no helmet.

I’m no stranger to taking strong stances – sometimes unpopular – and writing based purely on my opinions so I really respect the author for having such a strong stance and sharing it. She also doesn’t claim to be a medical expert and clearly states this book is based on her opinions and experiences, which makes me respect the writing even more. However, I must disagree – and share a little disappointment.

A marathon might not be best for every pregnant woman but it was a good experience for me

The author assumes women only work out to lose weight (and reminds women they’re going to get fat anyway), scares future moms into thinking they’re putting baby in danger (if anything were to happen or be less than perfect when baby is born, it’s probably because you chose to exercise), and reminds you that, when you’re pregnant, your one purpose is to be a baby oven (that’s all you’re meant to do).

I think she’s missing a lot of the reasons why women choose to work out and all the benefits that come with doing it. Me, I’ve had a pretty terrific pregnancy, and a lot of that I credit to working out, mostly for these five reasons.

1. Working Out Keeps My Weight Gain Healthy
Most people assume you can eat whatever you want and gain a ton of weight during pregnancy, and it’s all good. Well, that’s not quite true. What I eat is more important than ever now that I’m responsible for feeding and developing a tiny human.

From gestational diabetes to added discomfort and other side effects, there are reasons docs and other experts suggest not gaining excessive weight. Every woman is different and all pregnancy weight gain isn’t equal, but I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to keep mine in check. Working out also encourages me to stick with healthy eating habits, super-important for baby’s development.

2. Working Out Gives Me Energy
Growing a tiny human can definitely be tiring, especially in the first and third trimesters. And I don’t want to discredit the real, true fatigue that women experience during pregnancy. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I’ve found working out has helped me keep my energy levels up.

While I have taken an extra rest day here or there and my workouts aren’t nearly as intense as when I wasn’t pregnant, I think choosing to do a little something most days of the week has helped me from slipping into sloth mode on a regular basis.

Feeling good – growing belly and all

3. Working Out Prevents Me From Experiencing Awful Symptoms
Throughout the weeks, I’ve paid attention to all the symptoms I’m to expect when expecting. In addition to the above-mentioned fatigue, there’s constipation and hemorrhoids, swelling and ligament pain, and horrid pelvic pressure and overall discomfort. I’ve also read numerous online chats and article comments from women who make pregnancy sound like the worst possible experience a woman can go through due to all the symptoms.

I, on the other hand, have managed to avoid virtually every awful pregnancy symptom. There have been a couple things here or there but other than that, I’ve felt pretty great.

4. Working Out Makes Me…Me
In that same breath, I have to admit that, while most days I feel normal, pregnancy has brought some things I’ve never felt before and changes to my body I’ve never seen before. There have been a few times I definitely don’t feel like me.

When I work out, I feel like me. Running, it’s what I do. Lifting weights, it’s what I do. Yoga, it’s what I do. To erase something from my day that has been part of most of my days for the past several years would make me feel weirder than any of it.

5. Working Out Isn’t Selfish
One final point that’s less about me and more an overall thought – there’s a ton of guilt moms put on themselves (and they likely get from others) for taking time for themselves to take care of themselves, working out included. Can we please not begin this mommy-shaming before the baby is even born?

I get that the author doesn’t believe in working out while pregnant. That’s clear. But to make any other mom feel bad, vain, or scared for her choice to do so, I think that’s the wrong approach.

And, contrary to what the author implies, I don’t believe working out right now is selfish or taking away any health benefits from my baby – in fact, I believe I’m taking good care of both myself and baby – maybe even instilling in him/her the value of exercise before making an arrival into the world.

Like just about everything I believe in life, the bottom line to this discussion is that it’s a free country and we all have the power of choice. Everyone is different and you should do what’s best for you – period. No matter what anyone says, you know you better than anyone and, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, do what you want.

Moms, where do you stand on working out while pregnant? Did you make the choice to do it or not? Dads, where do you stand on your partner mom-to-be working out while she’s pregnant? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.


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