Friday, April 26, 2013

First Pregnancy & Postpartum Reflections

Just for a little running background... I've loved running since I ran my first 5k in 2009 (prior to that, I thought only crazy people ran longer than 1 mile!). It was a great way to chill out before my senior portfolio presentation in college and a great solo or group activity once I moved to a new town for work. Five marathons later, it's still my favorite activity! Running kept me a bit more sane during my pregnancy with Eli and has proven to be great "mommy alone time" now that our little man is here. The peace and quiet outside in the morning is great for spending time with God in His Creation, praying, and reflecting.

Running when pregnant was great, but proved to be a bit lonely. I didn't know any pregnant running moms in our area, so I researched what other pregnant moms that DO run experienced during their pregnancies. Being an active pregnant momma brought on more criticism that I ever expected. Looking back now, though, none of it matters! Here I am, writing, while my healthy, beautiful little guy is taking a nap :) I'm so in love and I wouldn't change a thing about him.

5 Days Before Eli's Arrival!

First Pregnancy and Postpartum Reflection

  • Speedy Postpartum Recovery: The labor and delivery went very quickly and without a hitch. From the time early labor started to when he popped out, I think it was about 13 hours. Fast, compared to what I'd been told it would be like! I felt pretty good after delivering and was able to walk around afterwards. It helped immensely to recover fast so I could take care of the little guy when we went home two days later. I was able to be up and running again at 3 weeks, which was another perk.
  • Healthy Weight Gain: I gained 20 lbs. when pregnant with Eli and my weight returned to normal fairly quick. This helped with being active during and after pregnancy; excessive weight gain definitely stresses the already stressed out joints. I did put on most of the weight early in the pregnancy, which scared me a bit. I had run Boston Marathon two months prior and was training again at that time, so I think my body went into "fat storage mode" to prep for growing a baby!
  • Less Fatigue & Pains: Staying active helped me get through the nausea and fatigue early on in pregnancy. Keeping a strong core also helped to prevent back pains later in pregnancy. My back would still get sore, but it was definitely nothing to complain about!
  • Zero Sleeping Issues: I didn't have a problem sleeping at night! After a good workout, I was out like a light... and up a few times to use the bathroom :)
  • No Swelling: Swelling and water retention weren't a problem. I just needed to drink A LOT of water as I did have a dehydration issue near the end of the pregnancy. It seems ironic that drinking water can prevent water retention...
  • Preterm labor Symptoms: For future pregnancies, I am going to be watching carfully for preterm labor symptoms! A urinary tract infection combined with dehydration caused preterm labor to start up at 33.5 weeks. After being stuffed with fluids and put on a magnesium sulfate drip, everything calmed down and we were sent home. E was born at 35 weeks - our little healthy man! It really shocked me that I felt no symptoms with the UTI. Even more bathroom trips and fluids next time, I guess!
  • Milk supply increase?! I was told that exercising would cause my milk supply to dry up. That turned out to be incorrect! Without going to great detail, I'll just say lack of milk supply isn't an issue at all. Actually, it was quite the opposite, especially right after Eli was born. I believe it actually has increased my milk supply! (more info: Exercise and Breastfeeding)
  • Jogging Stroller Training: Jogging strollers are awesome because you can enjoy a run WITH your little one, but WOW they are work! Running with one arm swinging and one arm pushing is a skill I have yet to master. Plus side? It makes running without a stroller seem really easy. I guess Eli will be riding with on training runs when he's a bit older!

Why stay active when you are pregnant?


Benefits of Prenatal Exercise for Moms

Dr. Clapp and others have found that women who engage in regular, moderate exercise (defined as 13-15 on a scale of 1-20) for at least 20 minutes 3-5 days a week tend to:
  • Have shorter and less complicated labors and less need for medical intervention.
  • Have more energy during their pregnancies and recover faster after delivery.
  • Return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner than less active women.
  • Gain less weight during pregnancy.
  • Experience an improved body image, enhanced self-esteem and a general sense of well-being.
  • Experience less tension, anxiety and fatigue than less active women
  • Experience a decrease in the common discomforts of pregnancy.
  • Maintain cardiovascular fitness.
  • Increase muscular strength.
  • Experience fewer colds and other respiratory viruses.

Benefits of Prenatal Exercise for Babies

Dr. Clapp also noted that babies born to women who maintained a regular fitness regimen during pregnancy are:
  • Better able to adapt to changes the changes that occur during labor and delivery
  • Less fat. Babies born to exercising mothers had less overall body fat but were no more likely to be born at “low birth weight” and were fully developed compared to their counterparts born to non-exercising moms.
  • More adaptive to their external surroundings. These babies tend to be alert and less startled by their environment, and able to settle and soothe themselves requiring less comforting.
  • Normal in growth and development. Clapp tested children in his studies at one year and again at five years and found no stunting of growth or development.

Source: *Clapp III, James F. Exercising Through your Pregnancy. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1998.

*Disclaimer* Get approval from your doctor before you start exercising. I am NOT a doctor!

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