Take it from me - pregnancy can be really hard on the human body. Some women bounce back from pregnancy with nary a sign that they ever housed a second human on the inside of their uterus. Others - myself included - seem more like a car accident victim, limping along years after with residual injuries. I wish I were exaggerating here, but I'm not. My ongoing physical therapy sessions are all in some part focused on restoring my core and my pelvis - exactly what my kids destroyed when I was housing them.
Labor doesn't intimidate me. I'd do labor once a year, easily. But pregnancy? Nah. Hard pass. I really don't enjoy being pregnant. Physically, it's hard on my body - my bones ache, my organs are ridiculously cramped, and everything seems swollen and puffy. With my diastasis recti following Shep, I had not yet fully recovered a decent core when I got pregnant with Rory. So all the progress from my first go-round of physical therapy was for naught. Don't be like me. Prepare your body, as much as you can, if you can for - for pregnancy and labor. Being more physically fit and active makes everything so much more bearable. Bonus: it also makes recovery a lot more attainable!
Hand to God, I tell people this: If you are a woman of fertile age, take prenatals. It's a multivitamin with extra boosts for your skin, hair, and nails. Can you really go wrong? The answer is no. And bonus: if you're a sexually active woman and end up pregnant, know that you've been laying good nutritional foundations for your future little one.
This falls under the "can't hurt" medicine category. Personally, I use Rainbow Bright prenatal vitamins. They have a "daily duo" that is not only the least nasty fish-tasting omega fatty acid pills ever, it's also magical. Why? Because every other prenatal has always made me feel ill. Some have even made me throw up after I took them - ugh, gross! Rainbow Bright vitamins are made from whole foods. Back in my old day job, I once spent several months speaking to people who worked in the supplement industry. Many of them admitted they took Rainbow Bright - people who had since moved on to new companies. That's recommendation enough for me!
Yes, that's right. Get flexible. Remaining flexible means that you'll reduce inflammation and improve circulation throughout your body. That extra little boost can help you feel ready to move and take on the next challenge. In the third trimester, the pregnant body creates relaxin - a hormone that loosens all muscles, tendons, and ligaments to prepare the body for labor and delivery. Once you hit this point, you should refrain from vigorous stretching. It's easy to overwork your body when relaxin is in the mix.
Strength & Endurance
In other words: lift and get your cardio. Listen, here's what no one will tell you: there's never a convenient time to get fit. It takes effort and maintaining a schedule to force yourself to make the time day in and day out. But once you become pregnant, the best recommendation is that you can maintain your current activity level. That means that the more active you are when you become pregnant, the easier it will be to remain active. A more sedentary mom, however, has to amp up her own fitness at a much slower rate, if she can at all. Work on these things now, not just so that labor is easier - but so that you can continue a healthy fitness routine throughout pregnancy as an act of self-care!
"But, Amanda," you say, "you admit you have terrible core strength and fitness. Why would I take pregnancy fitness preparation advice from you?" And I would say: That's exactly why you ought to trust me on this one. It's all the things I didn't do, which I regret not doing. And if it helps you - or another someday mama-to-be - then it's some good that can come out of my foolishness. What's the phrase? Good judgment comes from experience, which often comes from bad judgment. Just trust me, and go get yo some prenatals.
What brand of prenatals do you like? I swear I don't sell Rainbow Lights - I just really love them! Tell me your favorite @pi3sguarpi3.