If I were to make a sweeping and assumptive generalization, I would argue that there are 4 types of pregnant women:
- Women who freakin’ love being pregnant 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time, they feel like crap, but know that it is normal and thusly take self-care moments like baths in beautiful huge tubs in which you don’t have to choose between boobs, belly, or knees under the water. There’s enough room for all the lumpy bits ALL AT ONCE. To those people, YES. I love that this exists, for you and the world. Sincerely, YES.
- Women who want to love pregnancy because they generally don’t feel that bad and sorta like the whole thing, but for whom life is like a giant ashtray. They work like the dickens and then go home to other children throwing farts as darts and then when they attempt to take a bath, they know they’ll have to rotate body parts that get to be submerged.
- Women who discover some new level of human endurance unknown to all mankind and feel absolutely like crap not just in the first trimester, but THE ENTIRE 10 months. Barfing, bed rest, all the symptoms, all the pain, WTF.
- Women who can’t even think about how they feel because their brains are chemically not excited to handle even PMS, much less pregnancy hormones and, thus, they spend the entire 10 months thinking the world is going to end and worrying incessantly why the baby only moved 52 times that last hour instead of 54 times.
I was a blend of #2 and #4, mostly #4.
In my case, pregnancy was not a glowing time that I loved, even though I desperately wanted it to be. I was in mental distress and also physical distress, suffering from severe panic attacks and back/hip pain on a daily basis. I used to try to do at-home yoga videos to address both issues, but I’d actually just end up turning it on and then watching it while eating tortillas until the savasana part at the very end. PS: Why do the women in these workouts always wear unitards that highlight a camel toe? And why is there always a fountain in the background? So confused.
I know that what would have helped me is adequate, non-boring, endorphin-producing, yet safe exercise within a real deal genuine community that didn’t require a whole lot of effort and that didn’t remind me what a louse of a pregnant person I was. But, alas, the exercise component of pregnancy has been truly abysmal for most pregnant women. It seems, as with most areas of women’s health, we have adopted a very limited and ineffective “either/or” way to help us get strong while pregnant instead of the resilient, customized, and attentive methods we truly need and deserve. We hear either: “Keep running those marathons” or just “Take a walk and squeeze a kegel out.”
And I can’t help but see the connection with a weak spot of the previous wave of feminism, in which we fought for women to have equal rights as men, but what we got was women being asked to DO IT ALL without equal support. In the current wave of feminism, we’re getting more clear and focused by saying, yes, women are equal AND we need support/services/social change in order to do everything we are here to do so that we don’t co-opt the original oppression and enslave ourselves to depletion and busydom.
The way we teach and strengthen pregnant women echoes this need for clarification. In my work, I find that most women are told to continue doing whatever exercise they were doing while they conceived. And, while I believe that pregnant women can technically endure a lot and that their babies would survive marathon running and extreme sports and heavy lifting, I think we need to start asking, “Ok, so yes we can do all this and do it well, but is it good for us in the long run? Does it support an integrated woman for her lifespan? What does the task of pregnancy ask as of my body and how I can amend what I’m doing to become stronger so that motherhood is not a liability to my experience as woman?”
I mean, right? Why can’t we ask that? Why is the answer either: “Keep running or keep doing crossfit or, sure, hot yoga is ok” OR “Just do some prenatal yoga or prenatal videos at home.” Why is there no middle ground that is powerful and dynamic and comprehensive and strategic?
Because we’re not there yet and our culture still values women as objects and pregnancy as a cute incubation period. Dudettes, it’s so not that. It’s a freaking miraculous undertaking akin to climbing Mt Everest. If you knew the half of what your body was managing to do each day without an ounce of training, you would be utterly shocked. So, I’m here today to say that you deserve better advice and a better solution:
While you are certainly capable and your body will certainly make it happen, in my humble opinion, you ought to not continue doing extreme heavy lifting, crazy ab crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, and marathon running while pregnant. Why? Because of the risk of overtoning the pelvic floor and of creating a movement dynamic in the body that will put you at a much greater risk of diastasis recti, hernia, and prolapse after birth.
Also, while I am not knocking those at-home yoga videos and support them as a once-in-a-while thing, I will also say that you need more. You need GOOD and DETAILED education on your pelvic floor. You need expert guidance on how to support your hips, your changing posture, and your incredibly able spine that far surpasses what you have probably been given so far. And you need that education to still challenge you physically and give you the gift of endorphins, aka energy, that you so desperately miss and need.
The point to drive home here is that you can’t be either/or in your pregnancy wellness. You are in a transition. And transitions are where we need to be supported THE MOST. You deserve a comprehensive program that remembers first and foremost of your womanhood and your unique handling of pregnancy.
I’ll be brutally honest here and say that MommaStrong has sorta not been awesome in the prenatal program until now. And that’s mostly because I was dealing with my own avoidance of how pregnancy felt to me and how upsetting the whole experience was for me, in so many regards. But, in an effort to do that work for myself and heal from that experience, I have begun to create and develop a prenatal program that is simply one of a kind. The one that I know could have entirely altered my pregnancy experience and, thus, my postpartum recovery.
What PRO-natal, MommaStrong’s prenatal program, will offer you:
- A new 15-minute interval workout EACH DAY OF YOUR PREGNANCY (I’m filming these consistently until we get to around 300 workouts!)
- Targeted pelvic floor work in each workout
- Targeted glute and back work in each workout
- Stretching and options for days when you can’t move or function
- Specific advice/tutorials for key pain patterns
- “Just Got Pregnant” advice and instruction
- “Birth, Get Ready” advice and instruction
- “Just Gave Birth” advice and instruction
- “Surgical Birth” advice and instruction
- Motivation techniques focused on keeping you, a modern woman, connected and engaged in the world
- Daily emails (if and only if you want them) with pregnancy hacks and inspiration, to remind you of your personhood
- Community of moms just like you
Dang, I could cry. I almost wrote that it makes me want to get pregnant again and then I was like, wait, no. Like, no.
Share with your friends who are pregnant women and not just cute incubators.
And if you are said pregnant want to sign up for workouts in which I do not wear a unitard ever (well, never say never) or sport a camel toe (that's not true, it happens - why are there seams in the middle of pants in 2017?), THEN CLICK HERE YOU BEAUTIFUL WOMAN DOING AMAZING THINGS, YOU!
Oh, and yes, for $2 a month, you get access to ALL MOMMASTRONG programs, so that you can get what you need when you need it. And, yes, I know that's stupidly cheap and that's because if I were to charge you it's full value, it'd be $1,000,000 and that's not cool. So, instead, you just pay for me to keep this here ship running and we get to say the word "invaluable" together.