How Staying Fit During My Pregnancy Helped Me Bounce Back
A woman’s body goes through so many changes during pregnancy - some are beautiful and others are not so pretty!
Stretch marks, swollen fingers and feet, hemorrhoids, and mood swings are all a reality for many women during those 9 months leading up to childbirth. And some of these pregnancy side-effects don’t always disappear once the baby is born. But most mothers can agree that no matter how much our bodies change and stretch, the transformation is beautiful and something to be celebrated. I experienced all of the physical and emotional changes mentioned above, but I still had an extremely healthy and happy pregnancy experience. I owe this in large part to staying active and healthy during those 40 weeks.
I hear all too often about women who see pregnancy as their free ticket to eat everything in sight and completely give up all forms of exercise or physical activity. Of course there are times when bed rest is ordered or physical limitations prevent a woman from being physically active during their pregnancy, and I would never argue that the safety of a mother and her child are paramount. But if you are cleared by your doctor to engage in regular exercise, I recommend doing so. And here’s why.
I gained 36 pounds in 39 weeks. After doing some online research, I discovered that this is an average, recommended amount of weight to gain. This varies based on many factors including the weight you were before becoming pregnant, if you’re carrying twins, and the amount of activity you perform. Did I indulge in pizza, ice cream, and other goodies that my body just “had to have”? You bet I did! But I tried to do so in moderation. If I had pizza with sausage and onions for lunch, I’d opt for a more healthy dinner choice such as grilled chicken and vegetables. If I wanted ice cream for dessert, I had it. But I used a small cereal bowl versus eating straight out of the carton! Treating my eating habits the same during pregnancy as I did before, helped me remain active and feeling happy and energized right up until the day of my C-section.
Before I found out I was pregnant, I exercised regularly. I enjoyed running outdoors, using the elliptical at home, and doing yoga. My doctor told me that as long as I wasn’t overexerting myself that I could continue to exercise at the same level I had before. At the time, I was working at a daycare, which was about 3 miles from my home. At least twice a week I would walk to and from the office. It took me a little longer each trimester but kept my legs, lungs, and mind strong.
If my body craved a more low-impact workout, I opted for yoga. There are so many amazing prenatal yoga videos available. I found yoga helped not only with my physical condition but my mental as well. Pregnancy can create a mix of emotions from happiness and joy to worry and apprehension. For me, yoga was a time to let go of my anxiety, breathe deeply, and embrace the changes my body was experiencing.
Fast forward to delivery day. My son was born on Thursday, December 9th at 8:33 a.m. at a healthy 8lbs. 2 oz. and 21 inches long. His first cries were matched with my own. On delivery day I weighed in at 178 pounds. When I returned home and got on my feet, I weighed in at 154 pounds. In a matter of 6 days, I shed 24 of the 36 pounds I had gained. I have a few minor stretch marks on my stomach and my C-section scar as physical reminders of my pregnant body. I have to thank my body for staying strong, reliable, and capable to carry my son and deliver him to this world happily and healthy.
By six weeks postpartum, I was back to my regular exercise routine. My body bounced back without issue. The remaining 12 pounds I had gained during my pregnancy slowly melted away. I felt strong, confident, and healthy. I had fueled my mind and body throughout my pregnancy with regular activity and healthy choices that counteracted my indulgences. This left me feeling well-rested and ready to tackle life with a newborn. I am amazed each day by the power and wonder of a woman’s body. Honor it and love it during your pregnancy and it will serve you in return.
I am a 32-year-old mother and wife of a police officer living in NJ. I have my MFA in creative nonfiction and 10 years writing experience. When I'm not writing I enjoy hot yoga, cardio kickboxing, running, and camping.