I’m going to be honest with you, when I found out I was pregnant with Nugget, I was terrified. And not for the ‘usual’ reasons, for vain, superficial reasons. I was terrified of ‘losing my body’ of ‘letting myself go’ because, let’s face it, those messages are everywhere. Once you have a baby your body is no longer your own, it doesn’t matter that it becomes flabby and stretched and saggy, because look at it what it made! Which, to some degree is true.
But what if we could have the best of both worlds?
What if I could have a beautiful baby AND a beautiful body that makes me feel sexy and strong?
What if I could give birth and then still feel like myself?
…Is that even possible?
Or am I just kidding myself?
These are all thoughts that passed through my head. So I set out on a mission. I googled and Pinterested (is that even a word?) and Instagrammed ‘Fit Mom’, ‘Fit Pregnancy’, and guess what? I came across SO much inspiration! I felt so lucky that one of my fitness idols, Jess Hilgenberg, happened to be pregnant just before I was, and she shared the same fears as I did. I followed her journey and it made me realize that I didn’t have to give up on being fit and sexy in order to be a Mom. The two things were NOT mutually exclusive.
So now what? I know that it’s possible to have a baby and ‘get your body back’, so to speak. But how? What do I need to do? There are so many messages out there suggesting that pregnant women are inept. That once that little zygote forms, that little embryo embeds itself in your womb, you must ‘take it easy’ and ‘slow down’. So what does that mean? Do I have to stop lifting weights? Do I stop training? Before getting pregnant I was regularly squatting and deadlifting my body weight, do I have to stop? What is unsafe? If I continue am I putting my pregnancy at risk?
So I did my research. The truth is the answer to most of those questions is ‘No’. Most recent research suggests that women who were active prior to becoming pregnant can maintain the same level of activity. As my doctor put it, ‘keep doing what you’re doing, but if you weren’t training for a marathon before, now’s not the time to start’. That made sense, it was logical, common sense even. The key in all of it is, listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it. Plain and simple.
But we all know exercise is only half the battle. Nutrition is also key to ensuring weight gain stays in the healthy range. Another source of mixed messages. ‘You’re eating for two!’ ‘don’t eat sushi, or steak, or tuna, or cookie dough – you’ll poison your baby’ ‘not a sip of alcohol from the time that line turns pink’ ‘a glass of wine here and there is okay’ ‘you can only eat soda crackers and ginger ale with the morning sickness’ ‘eat whatever you can keep down’
So who do you listen to?
First, your doctor. Most obstetrics or midwifery practices have nutritional information for pregnant women. Second, common sense. You are growing a human. What are humans made of? Protein, cholesterol, fat. This was great news to me! I already enjoyed a relatively high fat, animal protein rich diet. But I craved carbs. I craved carbs harrrrd. Bland, boring, flavorless carbs. So what did I do? I ate carbs! But I did it smart. Whole grains, high fiber, lots of fruit, and tried my best to eat veggies although I couldn’t be bothered. There were definitely days when I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything besides bread with butter. But I didn’t let those days become my every day.
In the end I gained 35 lbs (exactly!). Although my goal was to stay at 25 lbs, it just didn’t happen, and that’s okay, because I stayed within the healthy range, there’s nothing done that can’t be undone.
And so began my post-partum journey.