Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exercise & Pregnancy

I’m sure you’ve heard how important exercise is for pregnancy, so I’m not going to focus on that. I am, however, going to share my top 3 favorite forms of exercise I did during my pregnancy. As with any type of sport, make sure you clear it with your doctor or midwife for safety reasons.

1.       Swimming. First of all I love being in the water so naturally swimming became my number one go to sport. Benefits: The water keeps you from overheating, majority of your muscles are being exercised (more bang for your buck), it’s gentle on your joints, and when you’re in the last trimester the water buoyancy gives your body a break from carrying the extra weight. Cons: You need a good prego swimsuit, or if you are like me, just wear a two piece and show off your beautiful baby bump, and you get to smell like chlorine for the rest of the day unless you find a saline pool in your area.
2.       Yoga. I didn’t do enough of this during my pregnancy and I paid for it with a prolong labor. Benefits: prenatal yoga helps strengthen the essential muscle groups you’ll need for labor and delivery, gives you flexibility, reduces stress, and very calming to mind, body, and spirit. Cons:  Well, I can’t really think of any. Here’s a fabulous 30 minute video I found online and practiced during my pregnancy, although not enough. Make sure you drink plenty of water and you have a fan on to keep you cool. 

3.       Walking. This is the easiest go to form of exercise out there and best of all it’s free. Good walking shoes are a must during pregnancy because of the extra weight and the change of center of gravity for the body. 15-30 minute walk a day is sufficient. For more of a workout add some stairs or hills to your walk, but make sure you don’t overheat yourself. The best way to know you’re pushing too hard is your breath. If you can’t carry on a conversation because you’re out of breath that means you’re overdoing it. Benefits: as I said it’s free, you strengthen your legs which you need during labor, and it’s a chance to get out into nature which has a nice calming effect. Cons: towards the end of pregnancy it can become difficult to walk as the baby positions his/her head down into your pelvis (speaking from personal experience here). 

The important thing to remember is to just move your body and stay active. Happy Pregnancy, mama.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Loving your body

Take a look at this video.

A woman’s body goes through tremendous amounts of changes through pregnancy and childbirth. With each person it’s different. Some have stretch marks; others have excess weight that won’t come off. 

I’d always been a thin person for the most part. Not that I wasn’t incapable of gaining weight, but even when I would put on an extra 10 or 15 pounds I managed to remain slender. I attribute this mostly to genetics and a vegetarian diet.

So you can imagine when I got pregnant and gained  55 pounds (nearly ½ of my pre-pregnancy weight) how strange it was for me. For the first time in my life I truly understood and could sympathize with people who struggle with their weight. I remember how hard it was to move at 9 months. Talk about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Lugging around an extra 55 pounds is not easy feat, but through it all I loved my body.

I loved the new layer of cushion I now had. It was nice not to be so boney anymore. I especially loved my boobs. Goodbye A cup and hello C. I also loved the dark life line that started at few inches above my belly button and went all the way down to my pelvis like a natural tattoo of motherhood.

Then I had my baby. Everything changed. The adorable growing baby bump transformed into a jiggling flabby mess. While some of the weight came off in the form of baby & fluids, I still looked swollen and for the first time I actually felt fat. But that’s not what got me down. No, it was something that nobody could see except for me, my husband, and gynecologist.

During delivery, I had a 3rd degree perineal tear and when the doctor sewed me up he’d left some little pieces of skin along the perineal body which almost looked like hemorrhoids and because of my prolonged labor I ended up with a cystocele as well. I distinctly remember the first time I took a mirror and looked down there for the 1st time since delivery. I literally sat on the edge of the bathtub and cried. I suddenly felt so unsexy, unbeautiful, disgusting. After the tears dried up and I washed my face, an avalanche of guilt tumbled over me.

How could I be so vain? I had a loving husband, a beautiful baby, and a supportive family. All of my friends and even strangers said I looked fantastic. So why did I care, that a certain part of my body wasn’t the same when nobody else could see it? Of course I was also dealing with postpartum depression which made everything ten times worse than it really was.

I didn’t care about my squishy stomach or excess weight. No, none of that mattered to me. My genital area is what mattered. The fact I had pelvic pain and that whole region of my body was constantly sore for months after delivery didn’t help. All my tissues down there were so tight, I couldn’t stand a tampon. Forget get any kind of intimacy.  

Three months of pelvic floor therapy and lots of personal care and meditation, and seven months after my daughter was born I grew to love my body again. I realized that these “petals,” as my midwife called them, were just a mark of my transformed life. They didn’t hurt anymore or interfere with intimacy with my husband. He certainly didn’t care about them.

My daughter is eight months old and now when I look in the mirror I see a beautiful sexy mother with curves she never had before, a lovely life line down her stomach, and fabulous toned arms from carrying a baby around all day long.

Each woman has her own body image struggles. Even the ones with perfect bodies most of us love to hate have something they despise about themselves. Don’t judge them, but especially don’t judge yourself. No matter what your body looks like now, know your battle scars are a mark of motherhood, one of the most elite titles in the world. You ushered in a new live, a fresh soul into this world. You are the mother queen of the human race. So hold your chin high, straighten you spine, and bask in your glory, you sexy mama.