Mom Strong :: Training for Labor
I truly never would have imagined I would be this physically fit at 33 years old, let alone at 36 weeks pregnant with my third child. I did not arrive here by chance. Instead, I am here because of dedication and perseverance (and a little crazy, truth be told).
A little background of my birth history
I had my first child in 2011, I was 28 years old. I was average weight and gained 34 pounds during that pregnancy. I walked when I felt like it and did some prenatal exercise videos at times. I moved but also ate whatever I wanted. I also wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. However, my son was in a breech position and my amniotic fluid levels were such that the external cephalic version procedure was not safe and could not be attempted. This resulted in a scheduled c-section. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I had dreamed of a natural birth, planned for one and the reality was, I was not going to have one.
Approximately 18 months later, I had a birth that healed me. I had a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and it healed me. That is not to say it was easy. It was anything but. I would describe the pain I experienced as greater than that from my c-section recovery. BUT (and thats a huge caveat), all of my pain occurred prior to my baby’s arrival with the VBAC so it was worth it ten fold. My labor for baby #2 was similar to a first labor since I had never actually gone into labor for my first born. It was not fast, but it progressed. The epidural slowed things as did the fact that my son had a shoulder dystocia. I would do it all again in a heartbeat (and plan to in a few short weeks). The way I felt after giving birth and in the weeks following made it worth it to me. For that pregnancy, I did much of the same in the way of exercise and diet. I had lost all the pregnancy weight by the time we conceived number 2, but I also gained another 33 pounds that pregnancy.
How I am doing it differently the 3rd time around
I have been very open about my struggles and triumphs with weight loss and becoming a healthier me. Within the past couple of years I have drastically changed what I feed my body and my activity. When we started trying for baby #3, I was in the best shape of my life. Then we lost our baby. I took a step back from exercise and allowed myself to really indulge in comfort foods. I have no regrets. Although I must admit that it made me feel bad physically. Exercise and eating well had become part of my routine and truthfully, very therapeutic. To ignore both had me feeling sluggish. So I dragged myself to the gym and started meal planning and prepping. Both of those things helped lift me out of the fog. Taking care of myself was an important step in my healing. I know how lucky I am to have gotten pregnant very soon after my loss. Because my healthier lifestyle choices and their impact were so fresh in my mind, I was determined to not let either go because I was pregnant.
I was convinced I was going to miscarry again so I was determined to hold on to a piece of myself and my life that felt natural.
So I just didn’t stop. I continued to exercise as I had before, sometimes doing two-a-days (a low impact weight lifting class followed/preceded by a cardio blast). And then I spotted at 8 weeks pregnant. I knew I needed to scale back, that I was pushing myself too hard. So I did, I no longer did two classes in a day, but I did continue with 6 days a week of exercise. My week generally looked like this:
Monday: Boot camp (cardio intense) // Tuesday: 2 mile run with some weight training // Wednesday: Weight training (no cardio) // Thursday: HIIT (high intensity interval training class) // Friday: Spin class // Saturday: Body Pump
That got me through until around 16 weeks. At that point, I listened to my body and removed some of the cardio because I found it to be the most difficult. I kept setting goals. Initially, my goal was to make it to 20 weeks, then 28, and now, just one week shy of my most recent deadline- 38 weeks. At around 16 weeks, I replaced the boot camp class with an additional Body Pump Class. By 20 weeks, I replaced running with a barre class. By 28 weeks, my routine looked as follows:
Monday: Body Pump // Tuesday: Barre // Wednesday: Weight training class // Thursday: HIIT class (modified) // Friday: Spin // Saturday: Body pump
So what’s the point?
My point is that if I can do it … the girl who was overweight for most of her childhood, the girl who didn’t consistently exercise until she was 30+, you can do it. Trust me when I say you will feel better for it. I had terrible nausea and complete exhaustion for the first 15 weeks, but I took it one day at a time and every time I went to the gym, for that one hour, I didn’t feel sick to my stomach and I didn’t feel exhausted. It was like magic.
In the 12 months before I conceived this baby, I ran two half marathons. I learned a lot about myself and the ability to push myself past the uncomfortable toward a rewarding personal goal. At the time, I never considered the application of that training process to giving birth. It was not until I enrolled in Lamaze classes that I had a lightbulb moment. I realized that the same principles could apply to childbirth. Specifically, toward my goal of finally having an unmedicated labor and delivery. This totally shifted my perspective on the importance of maintaining my exercise routine. No longer was it just to feel better and be healthy, it was now because I was training my body for labor and delivery. That shift in perspective has made following through so much more attainable.
I know that this lifestyle is no guarantee that I will have the delivery I dream of. I know that it doesn’t guarantee it will be easy. What I do know is that I will have zero regrets. I will never regret taking care of myself. I will never regret showing my children that health is of the utmost importance. I will never regret staying healthy and active. I hope I will have a labor that does not have me begging for pain medication. Most of all, I hope for a labor where myself and baby are healthy. That is the end goal.