Before I was pregnant, I spent 6 months in and out of a wheel-chair managing and treating some back injuries (long story for another time). I still worked at POW! MMA & Fitness. I crawled around the floor while teaching and scooted from student to student. A humbling time and everything was challenging. So when I was pregnant and faced nausea, exhaustion, hunger, hot flashes, leg cramps etc.. I made it through my workday by saying, ‘Suck it up, you’re just pregnant!’
When I first got pregnant, I had just fully recovered from my four spine procedures and re-gained about 80% of my strength and skill. Despite being over the moon with happiness with my pregnancy, I was not willing to stop anything I was doing. My OBGYN (Dr. Shari Goldman) was brilliant and fabulous. She had been a private client and knew exactly who I was - so she coached me on - how to listen to my body’s needs throughout my pregnancy. Since I was a trainer and presenter in the fitness industry, I was very comfortable with the research and the modifications required for pre-natal fitness. But, finally It was my turn to experience it first-hand.
‘Suck it up, you’re just pregnant,’ was my daily mantra. It was how I maintained an active, productive, social and happy pregnancy. I completely rejected the traditional (1950-1970s) images of pregnant women. It was an active, multi-tasker who said ‘yes I will,’ more than ‘no, I can’t.’ I was determined to stay the same. To be honest, my mantra was motivated by a mixture of fear (to lose relevance in my industry), anxiety (over becoming disconnected to my customers), loyalty (to my martial arts, a life long commitment), pride (that I could do it pregnant, therefore you can to) and pure joy (that punching and kicking is the most gratifying activity).
As I look back, I realize that Dr. Goldman’s modern style and insight, along with my knowledge of the what, why and when of my body provided the foundation for my mantra. And before going on, let me share that I was not a high-risk pregnancy (i.e. preclampsia, disbetes, epilepsy, etc..). I had no medical conditions that caused limitations. Where I might be different is that I loved being pregnant and I had coping skills in place to deal with the inconveniences (which I believe came from the raw misery of the wheel-chair days). My pregnancies included the norm:
- I threw up at work about 10 times per kid.
- I had to lay down at times through out my day.
- I survived on minimal amounts of caffeine which lead to headaches.
- I planned my meals to keep my blood sugar up, otherwise I was dizzy.
- The smell of hard-boil eggs and peanut butter made me super sick.
- My 20-minute nose bleeds were disgusting.
- I couldn’t floss without a bloody mess.
- Cheap metal utensils made my mouth taste like an aluminum can, so I carried plastic forks with me.
- I went to the bathroom every hour.
- Never slept solid through the night.
- Lost my keys or phone on a daily basis.
Moving on from my personal experiences, I would like to actually summarize the what and whys of the pregnancy inconveniences. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, but knowing this helped me feel more comfortable about the challenges that come along with the changes.
You are going to gain weight, but it is not you, its them!
I think most women come to terms with the fact they are going to gain weight (about 25-30 pounds is suggested) during their pregnancy. The amount is really relative to your pre-pregnancy BMI (body mass index).But I was able to get past it because I new it was really the baby, not me.
- Baby is about 7.5 to 9.5 pounds
- Placenta is 1.5 lbs
- Extra blood is about 4 lbs
- Uterus 2 lbs
- Amniotic fluid 2 lbs
There is more to account for, but these are the basics which adds up to about 20 pounds! I gained between 24-27 lbs pre-delivery, so I felt at the end of the day I was only gaining 5-10 lbs. I could definitely suck it up and use the math to keep me from getting down.
Bloody gross, but beautiful glow!
The increase in blood volume is to help the fetal growth. But of course that extra blood also flows through your organs too, not just the little one. This explains the bloody nose and the gums. But also is the reason for the tangible glow everyone notices.
Bigger can be better!
The bigger breasts usually offsets the fact that everything else gets bigger too. I guess this may only be a benefit based on your cup size before pregnancy. This new centerpiece does serve as a good distraction from the fact that everything else is getting bigger as well - with the exception of the bladder of course.
The ultimate scapegoat, Hormones!
Hormones can be blamed for many things, but you have to use the excuse wisely. Here are my favorite four. Not exactly a scientific breakdown, because there is always more to the story. But these are the facts I held onto while pregnant.
- hCG- I considered the Welcoming Committee. This is the hormone that the blood and pee tests are looking for - big, rapidly, growing numbers...
- Progesterone - Is the Debbie Downer - causes the fatigue, sleepiness, heartburn, acid reflux, bowel distention, yuck, yuck and yuck.. But with the bad comes the good -of course, is also supports that growing baby bump!
- Estrogen - The Powerhouse. It allows the uterus and placenta to improve vascularization so that nutrients are transferred and the fetus develops. It is the culprit behind so many changes. Your mood, sex drive, blood flow, smell, exhaustion... With this work-horse comes the nausea, but it also increases the size of the breasts to make space for the milk.
- Relaxin - Member of the Insulin Family. This powerful protein relaxes the muscles, joints and ligaments so the pelvis widens allowing the baby to make its way down the birth canal.
I realize I am skipping a few hormones and details here and there. But these were my governing facts. There is so much more to share about pregnancy. I am sometimes sad that my stories are so far away now - my youngest is 3! It is odd to say, but cherish the changes and challenges. I guess it is the same as saying, enjoy the moment.
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