Let the games begin!

Well, I’m 8+3* weeks into my (our!) pregnancy…. Let the games begin!   (* 8 weeks + 3 days)

Why am I writing, and what’s this blog about? Well, I’ve always been a fitness enthusiast… and as much as I was excited to be ‘expecting’ and determined to keep the safety and health of our unborn child at the top of my priority list, I still wanted to be able to exercise… properly. OK let’s be honest, I have visions of trail running while 1 week away from delivery, not an ounce of fat on me, the only clues to my pregnancy being my beautifully swollen belly and my glowing skin and shiny hair (in my fantasy my face is of course not marred with sweat and reddened with exertion). We can dream after all…

Brief history on moi: straight ‘A’ student all through school (except for my Chemistry A levels – but serious, organic chemistry can’t be that important right? Benzene ring of DEATH I hate you!). Sorry I digress… First degree in sports science (with honours) while working as a qualified personal and group-X trainer (‘aerobics instructor’ in 90s speak), followed by various equally boring desk jobs when I decided “Hey! What’s another 6 years?” and studied medicine. Then when that was done I figured “Hey! Specialising sounds cool, let’s do it!” and completed my post-grad in Family Medicine. Oh yeah, and I was also involved in research all through my doctoring. Because surviving on peanut M&Ms and bottled green tea while trying not to kill anyone wasn’t challenging enough.

So I’m fortunate that my educational/ work history gives me a good science/ sports/ medical basis to work from in order to look at ‘exercise during pregnancy’. So with my usual enthusiasm I started reading up on the topic. And then I kinda freaked out. It seems the books/ information out there fit into a couple of main categories: (1) How to stay thin and fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes (2) How to reclaim your zen during pregnancy (3) How to safely exercise.

OK, let’s not lie. I don’t want to gain 234,543,456 pounds and be carrying that around for the rest of my life. Not least because I won’t fit into my jeans; it’s bad bad BAD for my health. Oh, did I mention it’s bad? OK, so for reclaiming zen. Sure. Sounds great. Zen during pregnancy is honestly whatever zen is for you outside of pregnancy. If you relax by reading / meditating / walking / etc, there’s a good chance it’s going to work for you while you’re pregnant as well.

How to exercise during pregnancy. This was the bit I was disappointed with. More often than not, we pregnant ladies are advised to take pregnancy as a time to slow down our exercise routines and to engage in walking, swimming and aqua aerobics. Don’t get me wrong, any exercise is better than none, but I was definitely above average fitness before pregnancy, and was interested in keeping that fitness and the associated health benefits. I wanted advice on how to train hard (safely) during pregnancy.

So I spoke to my obstetrician who (bless him) advised me “no exercise, no running, no yoga, no heavy lifting”. He literally removed my handbag from my shoulder after our first consultation to feel how heavy it was, handed it to my husband and said in all seriousness “it’s your job to carry this now”. Cue newly pregnant couple looking like stunned mullets.

All this is especially interesting as there are clear guidelines regarding exercise during pregnancy released by the American College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, both for healthcare professionals and for patients. In short it states that pregnancy women can continue with activities they were doing pre-pregnancy as long as the pregnancy is uncomplicated (barring of course activities that carry a risk of falls and abdominal/other trauma. Scuba diving is a no-no as well). Despite these guidelines, many healthcare professionals seem scared of encouraging exercise during pregnancy; medico-legal reasons I suppose.

So I’ve embarked on a journey – to remain as fit and healthy as possible through my pregnancy and, by using my science/ health/ sport/ medical knowledge to cut through the myths and bring you the truths.

I’ll also be documented the workouts I do and will blog whenever an interesting query comes up, and hopefully I can provide the answers.

** MASSIVE DISCLAIMER ** if you read this blog for enjoyment and are able to learn something new, and if there is anything in it that can contribute to you remaining fit and healthy during your pregnancy, then I’ve achieved my goal. PLEASE remember for the purposes of this blog, while I am a doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. Please remember than everything you do/ try/ run/ jump/ skip/ swim/ stretch/ tango etc etc etc is at your own risk. Your health and that of your bub are the most important things, please take responsibility for your (and his/her) health and remember you must be cleared by your own doctor before embarking on any exercise regime during pregnancy.

Keep your common sense intact – if something feels bad… stop. It probably is.
Mostly, if something feels good, it probably is (and no, that doesn’t mean you can polish off a family pack of cookies while watching TV). Mmmm, typing ‘cookies’ just made me hungry…..

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  1. Pingback: Exercise in Pregnancy… I Give Up. – Push Ups, Pull Ups & Pregnancy

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