Training for Pregnancy and Labor?   4 comments

When I was a kid (or maybe a teen) I remember my dad once saying something along the lines that he wished more women would prepare for pregnancy and labor as if they were training for a marathon and not a walk in the park. I don’t remember the context, but I do remember that it was a statement that made a lot of sense to me at the time. While it is a perfectly natural event, it’s a physically and mentally taxing event. Now that I’m in the midst of trying to get pregnant, that statement of his keeps ringing through my head. It still makes sense to me, but I wish I could ask him what he really meant. I’ve got my interpretations, which follow, but I’m curious what his intended meaning was.

“Nutrient-loading”: In preparation for a big race, an athlete needs a diet that provides lots of calories, and specifically lots of easily-burned carbohydrates (aka “carbo-loading). During pregnancy a woman needs to load up on vitamins and minerals so that there are no deficiencies for the developing baby.

Physical endurance: While baby-me may have wanted to get out of the womb and on with life, I know that most women labor for more than 4 hours, and even if much of that time is non-strenuous, I can imagine that having a high endurance level, like a long distance runner, would be really useful.

Muscular development: I have not been through labor yet, but I can well imagine that it is an extremely physical experience that really taxes muscles all through the body, but especially in the abdomen. And wouldn’t toned abdominal muscles (even if much of that is lost during the pregnancy) make it easier to push the baby out? Runners need to strength train the whole body with special attention on the legs, is the same true for pregnant women but focusing on the abdomen? On more than one occasion I’ve heard it said that belly dancing is great to prepare muscles for labor. I’ve never been able to fit belly dancing lessons into my schedule, though. This will definitely be a topic that I bring up with my midwife, eventually, whenever we actually get pregnant.

Mental endurance: I would imagine that some of the mental tricks that athletes use to keep themselves going through a tough event would be really helpful for a woman going through labor. I mean, isn’t labor basically an athletic event, just without the competition and with a really great reward at the end?

Those are my interpretations of my dad’s statement, but since I’ve never been through pregnancy and labor before, I’d really love to get feedback from those who have.

Posted May 16, 2011 by mayakey in pre-pregnancy, pregnancy

4 responses to “Training for Pregnancy and Labor?

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  1. Nutrient: If you aren’t taking folic acid, you need to be. Also my doc recommends 2000 IU of Vitamin D and DHA. All things to make the “stew” (that’s what he calls it) better. I take prenatals all the time now because I’m usually either trying, pregnant or nursing. And I take the other two also.

    Endurance: I don’t know…I just do it. Your body reacts the way it reacts and it’s different every time. I’m not sure you can prepare for how it will react, but definitely work on strengthening what hurts when you are pregnant. It was my lower back and hips this time.

    Muscles: You don’t use your abs…at least I didn’t. Pushing is like taking a giant and painful crap. Keagles might serve you better. I think the stronger your vagina muscles are the easier it is to push baby out and the recovery time is probably better.

    Mental: Again, no telling how hormones will affect you. With Owen it was rage, with Dane weepies. There’s no way to prepare for that. But you can prepare for the fact that there will be hormones and you will feel things that are out of your control at times. Be aware and prepare your partner for the instability of emotions during pregnancy.

    I’m not in shape, i didn’t do anything in particular to prepare…and while I have difficult pregnancies, I have wicked easy labors (Owen was easy and Dane was ridiculously fast and easy). I would say the best preparation is to let go of expectations and embrace the experience as it is and not as you want it to be or think it should be.

    • Yeah, I’m taking a prenatal, fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, and a thyroid hormone tincture. Plus I’m working on making sure that I’m eating at least one serving of fruits or veg with each meal, and most snacks.

      I’m curious if the benefit to belly dancing is muscle tone or flexibility. Or if it is for comfort during pregnancy and recovery after. I don’t know. And I’m just hoping that my meditation, optimism, and acceptance will help me handle whatever comes at me. 🙂

      • I think the more in shape you are the easier is. Belly dancing probably strengthens your lower back and hips and abs … Essentially all the muscles that carry the baby. Core training like pilates might also have the same effect. Oh I forgot to say that your body builds muscles where it needs it. My legs and butt were rock hard both times I was pregnant.

  2. I fully agree with your dad! Pregnancy should be trained for. I read that somewhere before. That is exactly how I approached mine. You’re one smart cookie and doing everything right!

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