It’s exciting to be able to move again. After being restricted from cardio since last October, I was released to workout 6 weeks after having baby #2 in April.
I’ve been exercising again for a solid 2 months, and I feel a lot stronger and almost ready to start teaching fitness classes again. Easing back into fitness with postpartum workouts has been very helpful.
So what have I been doing to get in shape? I’ve been taking postpartum sculpt classes, doing yoga, enjoying dance-based classes, and hitting the weights.
Muscles atrophy fast and weight workouts have really helped me handle the day to day, especially a little one that never wants to be put down. I let my personal weight workouts slide over the last couple of years, and I don’t want it to happen again.
And on the fitness horizon…I’m looking forward to teaching a new baby-wearing dance class starting in September. Luckily I’ve got my own little one to help me practice. 😉 Right now I’m picking out music and practicing the moves while trying to stay out of this summer heatwave. Taking it day by day…
I have met my match. Try as I might to keep our family life simple and under control, my lack of energy often goes head-to-head with my 3-year-old daughter’s willpower. And she is a good kid. I just don’t have much energy these days.
There is nothing simple about being pregnant while raising a toddler or preschooler. There just isn’t.
And with a high risk pregnancy I have to take it easy in addition to dealing with my malaise. Of course, my daughter takes full advantage of my weakened state. I try to maintain boundaries, and sometimes I succeed, but often I do not.
Honestly, I am just plain worn out at the end of each and every day.
It doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mama, it’s a lot to handle.
When you are pregnant with your second (or any child after that, I’m sure) you realize how good you had it when you were pregnant with your first. You had time for naps. Glorious naps.
What should you know before attending a prenatal yoga class?
Even if you have never taken a yoga class before, when pregnant you should consider taking prenatal yoga. I am sharing my experience so you have an idea of what a prenatal class may include. Classes and instructors vary, so always let the instructor know that you are a new student and share any physical limitations before class.
I was restricted from engaging in any kind of physical activity during my first pregnancy, including yoga. This time my doctor allowed me to start taking prenatal yoga (with modifications) at 5 months pregnant. I was ecstatic and immediately began researching classes. Luckily I found a popular class right here in my neighborhood and enrolled right away.
What was the class like?
At least 20 other participants at various stages of pregnancy lined the room before each class. We started our practice by introducing ourselves, sharing our due date, what we were expecting a boy/girl/surprise, and at what hospital we planned to deliver.
The instructor was very warm and interested in building community between the pregnant mamas. The community aspect is really important since we were often talking about how the various yoga poses would prepare us for labor. It was serious girl talk, and you want to make sure that you are among friends when talking about such fun topics as squatting through labor and how to encourage your pelvis to open.
It is the community and friendships that seem to bring people back even more than the yoga practice itself.
During class we engaged in vinyasa flow, connecting breath to movement. The flows were modified to meet our prenatal needs, but flow we did, and our entire group was very intent on making sure we could master the breath before labor.
I found the flow similar to other yoga classes I had taken in the past and barely missed the poses that we avoided (more about poses to avoid below). We always started our class standing, moved to sitting and eventually ended the class in a side lying final relaxation.
I was the only one in the room who used yoga blocks, which surprised me. Rows of yoga blocks were stacked against the wall but the instructor didn’t mention using them, so people didn’t. In my third trimester I found poses like triangle and side angle so much easier with a block. Looking around the room I noticed many participants out of alignment in these same poses, forced to lean forward in their changing bodies. They would have received a much greater benefit if they would have used a block and stacked their joints, allowing for elongation and opening.
Honestly, if you plan to take prenatal yoga and the facility doesn’t offer yoga straps and blocks, then I highly recommend you bring your own. Your center of gravity changes throughout pregnancy and you will be glad you have them to maintain alignment. You can buy a yoga strap and block at stores like Target to Walmart or order them from Amazon.
Prenatal Class Exclusives
During our prenatal class the sense of community was so great that our instructor had us chanting at the end of class. And not just typical yoga chanting. We chanted for our friends in class who were at or past their due date. Specifically, we chanted for their cervix to open.
And it was awesome.
There is nothing like 20 pregnant mamas chanting, “Open Susie’s cervix” 5 times while the entire class is settled in a very deep squat.
The families watching their children’s ballet class next door must wonder what is going on as they hear the chanting through the wall. The idea of their bewildered expressions while we chant makes me smile.
The particular chant mentioned above might be the brainchild of the teacher who leads this particular yoga class. In other words, you can’t expect cervix chanting in a prenatal yoga class because these results may not be typical. 🙂
Ultimately, what is the benefit of taking a prenatal yoga class?
Yoga is a great way to stretch, but it is really about the community of women in the room with you. In what other fitness class can you joke about cervix dilation, your changing body and the other aspects of labor and pregnancy without having to weigh your words?
If you are pregnant, it’s worth a try if you have clearance from your physician.
What yoga poses and exercises should you avoid during pregnancy?
Many of the poses you should avoid in the second and third trimesters include:
lying on your back (nope, not even happy baby pose)
inversions (no headstands, shoulderstands)
lying on your belly
deep back bends (no wheel)
deep forward folds
any pose that doesn’t feel right
Forward folds, twists and other poses that become difficult may be modified as possible.
I daydream that my husband and I own a business that allows us to work from home, or better yet, from any location we want.
Yet my husband runs his family business, so that is not the case. And there is nothing simple about running a brick-and-mortar small business.
When employees don’t show up, then guess who must step in? Yep, we do. When a customer demands something above and beyond, they demand to talk to the owner. And guess who that is?
No one cares as much about your business as you do.
And I’ll share with you a dirty little secret kept by many small business owners.
Once you have been burned by employees or vendors, then you become smarter, and you may hold your cards closer to your chest. This means that you are less likely to let go of work that you really should allow someone else to do. But you won’t let it go because you have been taken advantage of, and you still aren’t over it.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but for most of us it doesn’t mean the ability to shorten our work weeks. At least not yet.
It means doing the most important work to build your business, safeguarding what you need to, and then delegating the rest.
There is an art to knowing what work you should do yourself and what to delegate to others. Sometimes it all seems too important to delegate. And that is when life really gets out of balance.
I’ll be honest. It can be frustrating sometimes.
We are learning to step away and scan the whole business system to make more strategic decisions. It is just too easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of running a business and not take the time to think of its future direction and how to be more efficient.
But if we can continue to force ourselves to look at the big picture on a regular basis, that means that we can spend more time with our family away from work.
Luckily, our home life is fairly simple.
And when you already live simply at home, it gives you breathing room when the small business isn’t quite there yet.
When high risk pregnancy puts the brakes on your life as you know it, including your workout routine, it can be a time of mixed emotions. So much changes so fast.
Fortunately, you are not alone and you may be able to still move your body. Here’s my story.
In 2012 at 15 weeks pregnant with my daughter, I learned that I needed an emergency procedure called a cerclage to keep my cervix from continuing to funnel open. If it wasn’t corrected quickly, I was going to lose my baby.
At the time I was teaching several fitness classes a week. I honestly didn’t understand the severity of my predicament. “Can I still sub my yoga class tonight if I just sit and talk my class through it?” I asked.
My perinatologist replied, “No, you are done. You are going to go home and lie down and come back tomorrow for the procedure. You are done teaching fitness until after your pregnancy.”
Whoa! Reality check.
Of course, my number one priority was my baby, so I called up all of the places where I taught fitness and let them know that I was on medical leave effective immediately.
I am extremely thankful to have had a perinatologist who discovered the issue in time to save my baby. I was on strict or modified bed rest for most of my pregnancy and my daughter was born at full-term.
You Are Not Alone
But I’m not going to lie. Going from being super active to bed rest was a rough transition. And if you are going through this right now, know that you are not alone. It is OK to mourn your active life even while you are thankful for modern medicine and the chance to save your baby. I was a wreck because I felt guilty for missing my workouts. It also felt so selfish. But being put on bed rest or being told to severely modify your activities means a loss in independence. I realize now that we don’t have to feel guilty for our mixed emotions. It is pregnancy after all. You are allowed to be emotional. 🙂
Now I am 29 weeks pregnant with our second daughter and have a cerclage again. But this time, rather than an emergency cerclage, I received a preventive cerclage at 13 weeks, which means that I can walk around, work at my desk and engage in most of my normal routine. I still can’t walk up and down stairs very often and am prohibited from cardio exercise. I am also not supposed to lift anything over about 10 pounds, including my 3-year-old daughter. It’s a very different experience, but what is the same is that I am no longer allowed to workout.
For most women with high risk pregnancies, especially those of us with a cerclage or preeclampsia, any movement that will tighten our core or put excess stress on our uterus or cervix is a problem and a big no-no.
In 2012 I was itching to move because I went from being highly active to not active at all. I asked my doctor if I could try a video I found online called Bedrest Fitness. After I described its use of resistance bands to strengthen arms and legs when you are in a reclined or lying down position, she agreed. Of course, if you are on bed rest or told not to exercise during pregnancy, it is important to ask your doctor if any exercise, including bedrest fitness, is right for you.
Most of all, I have learned patience through this process. Right now, at 29 weeks pregnant, I can still engage in my daily activities, but I have no idea for how much longer. At any Dr. appointment I may learn that the stress on my cervix is too much, and back on bed rest I go. I’ve accepted this fact and have learned that I need to go with the flow. I also just finished this inspiring book, which is a great read for any Mama on bed rest.
Through my 2 pregnancy experiences so far, I have let go of my workout expectations for the good of my baby’s health. And with some research, I was eventually able to find a very modified form of exercise that was approved in my particular case.
I also continue to meditate in a modified position. It helps relieve my pregnancy anxiety. I recently started meditating again after a long hiatus, and every time I come back to it, I wonder why I ever stopped in the first place.
And so I continue to use resistance bands to workout, but rather than tightening the core, I breathe so I relax the core as I work my arms, legs and upper back. It’s the opposite of everything I learned as a fitness instructor, and it works beautifully in my particular situation.
So for all of you Mamas out there with high risk pregnancies, know that your restrictions may feel like forever now, but keep learning what you can do to stay fit. Even if your physician says all you can do is roll from one side to another, meditation and positive visualization will get you through.