It’s five and a half hours since the official end of Christmas Day. The roads are slick from median irrigation. I close my eyes in my chair and draw in huge lung-filled breaths of air, attempting to relax myself. The drive to the hospital is over in no time. At this early in the day, post-holiday no less, the otherwise congested streets of South Florida are an open road. My husband parks curbside to Maternity Services. I clumsily hinge forward over my eight pounds of baby belly to pick up my bag resting between my ankles. I sort of roll out of the car and into his hands. Thanks to my spouse, I become a much-loved warden of Labor and Delivery, and within an hour, I am sporting a sheet with laces and a paper cap over my head.
Flash forward almost three years and that eight pounds of baby is my devil-in-her-eye daughter with a Princess-themed celebration the day after Christmas. Sometimes I ponder a woman’s body and how much our bodies endure when it comes to producing humans, feeding them and then recovering. During each of my pregnancies I gained a good amount of weight, averaging around fifty pounds per baby. When I say good, of course, I’m being sarcastic. With my first child, I was minimally active. I actually started playing golf which I thought was rather athletic but my gynecologist begged to differ! When it came to baby number two, I joined a prenatal/postnatal group exercise and while I did gain the same amount of weight, I reaped a lot of the benefits associated with prenatal exercise.
A word of caution to any women pregnant reading this….talk with your doctor BEFORE starting any workout or exercise program, please. While the majority of pregnancies go off without a hitch, there are gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, etc. so just get the “all clear” with your OB and/or midwife that you are good to go before sporting your lacrosse shorts and XXL tee shirts (my uniform for two years!).
According to Lenita Anthony author of the Pre and Post-Natal Fitness text book for fitness professionals published by ACE (American Council of Exercise) the benefits of exercising during pregnancy are plenty. From improving posture to reducing constipation and fatigue, recuperating from delivery to increased muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility, staying active is a natural way to keep your body healthy and strong as a biological metamorphosis takes place inside of you.
Many activities can be modified by pregnant women. Check out your local recreational center, YMCA or JCC to find out if there are any prenatal classes being offered in your area. Both land based and water workouts are becoming increasingly popular among the “bump set”. Yoga, dance, Pilates, aqua, strength and tone…all have been modified and offered exclusively for the prenatal client.
I was extremely fortunate to have Ms. Barbara Colby , a twenty-year pre/postnatal fitness professional and producer of Mom & Tot Workout DVD as my instructor. She was funny, personable and always made sure to know how far along we were in our pregancies in order to make modifications accordingly.
Prenatal exercise gives you a glimpse into the world of mommyhood and how women become best friends during this collective journey. Prenatal exercise classes, clubs, meetup groups offer women an opportunity to be part of a community that is open, caring, nurturing and supportive.
So as this Christmas of 2011 draws near, it’s not the Big Man’s visit that keeps me sleeping with one eye opened, it’s the day after, when we get to sing Happy Birthday to our little girl. Collectively my husband and I have lost one hundred pounds since December 26, 2008. Our lives have completely changed not just in the typical “you have a baby now” but we are now very active people trying our best to keep up with our Baby Jones’ as they run, jump and play. I know that my postpartum recovery was way faster and that my motivation to get started and stay committed to achieving a “beyond the babies body” was due in large part because of my prenatal fitness program. It’s a memory that I treasure. Not only growing our family but having the dedication and the learned skill set to shed the unnecessary weight and welcome myself back into non-preggo living. As we look to the week’s ahead with 2012 almost here, consider what sort of changes you are ready to make and examine if you have the skill set to complete the task or whether you need to find some help. All things can be accomplished with time, patience, persistence and trust.
In the meantime, enjoy the holidays and a special Happy Birthday to all the Christmas Babies out there!
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Professional Fitness Instructor, ACE, AFFA, TRX, IndoBoard, PIA, GROOVE
Writer and Social Media Correspondent
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