Fit Pregnancy Revisited

GetInline_0Following the birth of my son, I thought I’d revisit the topic of our previous article and webinar on fit pregnancy.

The purpose of this article to present an option for athletic moms to consider with their approach to pregnancy. You are a unique population and we wanted to share our experience. Be sure to talk through any advice with your personal physician.

Once again, Monica exercised each day of her pregnancy — with the focus changing from training to exercising, when she found out that she was pregnant.

The main change with the second pregnancy was a lot more yoga — 225 sessions from conception to birth. Axel was carried very long in her torso which made all but the last five weeks reasonable for her comfort. She didn’t “pop” until the final month.

Running remained comfortable, but slow, until the 37th week when back pain meant that she had to stop. Once she stopped running, she increased swimming to five to six times per week, which was done three times per week the rest of the time.

Speaking to my friends in the medical community and balancing against Monica’s goals, I noticed a divergence of objectives. Put plainly, the hospital is not incentivized to optimize the wellness of postpartum mothers.

In America, the message heard by pregnant women can be:

  • It’s okay to be sedentary
  • It’s okay to gain large amounts of weight
  • Give in to sugar cravings and the desire to overeat.

Now that might not be what our doctors are being trained to say but its what I hear repeated from women and expectant fathers. I’m not sure that message is best for the mother’s mental or physical health.

Turning the message around, a good summary of Monica’s approach:

  • Maintain pre-conception activity and drop intensity across the board
  • Do something every single day, even if it’s a walk or easy float in the pool
  • Focus on nutrition, and health, rather than your weight
  • Use willpower on portion control, not food avoidance.

Monica is 5’10” (athletic build, 20.5 BMI) and didn’t present large. Total weight gain (41.5 weeks) was 26 lbs (23 lbs at full term). Axel was 9 lbs, 9 oz at birth, which surprised our doc. When she was discharged, she was 10 lbs over pre-conception weight. Two weeks after delivery, she was pretty much back at her pre-conception weight.

It’s important to emphasize that she didn’t have any weight goals, rather the pregnancy saw a consistent focus on the four bullet points above. Across the entire pregnancy, her doctor was encouraging faster weight gain, until Axel popped out and surprised everyone with his size.

Additional tips for the athletic couple-to-be:

  • As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, wipe your racing calendar clear for the next 18 months. Monica stopped cycling with her first pregnancy and hasn’t started back.
  • For our first child, my first race wasn’t until my daughter was 10 months old. This time, the weekend after Axel was born, I took Lex to Boise 70.3 with me. This gave Monica time with Axel.
  • If you’re underweight for your height then seek expert advice about increasing your body fat percentage. The low-body fat, and high stress, life of an elite age-group female can be sub-optimal for personal fertility.

Good luck.


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