Bump Blog: Do I REALLY have to exercise?

Bump Blog: Week 18. "Your baby is the size of a pear / bell pepper / sweet potato." Then why do only 30% of my full term pregnancy clothes from last time fit me now?! I'm probably not exercising enough. I've not exercised since pregnancy number 2 last June; I'm definitely not exercising enough... 

Now that the 'perpetual hangover of doom' feeling (addressed in our first instalment of Bump Blog) is starting to wane, the next thing we're supposed to fling ourselves into is exercise - to help us maintain a general feeling of wellbeing and "prepare for the birth." On baby number one, I was all for this. Anything to help get the baby out in a timely fashion, especially as nobody knows what to expect when it comes to labour. Hence why 95% of expectant mothers in pregnancy pilates / yoga / yogalates classes are soon-to-be first time mums - with time/disposable cash on their hands. 

I'll never forget the pregnancy confirmation from my GP three years ago. On my way out the door, she said: "All going well, enjoy this time, you only get one first pregnancy." I smiled politely and sloped out, in my ignorance thinking "Hah? I'm petrified, I've no idea what's going on in my body, my boobs seem intent on surpassing basketball status, and I've an irrational fear of childbirth."

Obviously what she meant was "You won't have time to enjoy subsequent pregnancies as you'll be a Mum." She was right. When I'm not working, there's cooking, picking up the child from somewhere,  trying to feed said child, putting washes on that are then left festering damp in the dryer, mumbling that I'll "clean the bathroom tomorrow", and generally feeling sorry for myself because I used to spend half my life with my feet up horsing into crisps and wine. Exercise is the LAST thing on my mind right now. I'm only just starting to enjoy not vomming several times a day, gis a chance, I've a hot chocolate and a bar of fruit and nut to perpetually finish.

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Does exercise help with childbirth? Obviously it does. Labour is a marathon, so 'training' for it can only be a good thing. I found pregnancy pilates very beneficial the first time around. It was 45 minutes, once a week with Rachel Gaffey (MyWellBeing.ie). She was pregnant herself at the time, which was comforting because I would've considered her a bit of a sadist otherwise. I recall the first couple of classes, when she would have us do ten lunges on each leg and then hold for 10 seconds. The progression from "I'm going to pass out" to "I'm going to topple over cause the legs are JELLY" to "HAH, look at the 16 weekers going purple and falling over" was astounding - only from doing it once a week. That alone would motivate me to go back, but I currently get about an hour to myself in the evening which is usually devoted to dinner / possibly showering. 

In short, if this is your first pregnancy, go and check out the plethora of pregnancy tailored exercise classes out there, they'll make you feel wonderful, and - most of all - "prepared." I felt "prepared" before going in to have Lara, even though I'd no bleedin' clue what was to come. But it was a comfort nonetheless.

Have a chat with your Doctor if you have any concerns regarding exercise, but the general rule of thumb is "don't take up anything new" during pregnancy. When I asked my GP three years ago if I could keep doing Zumba, she said "if you've been doing it for a while, and it feels right, stick with it." So I did - until I realised my future pelvis and bladder weren't going going to thank me for doing star jumps after 25 weeks.

If you're already a mum and pregnant again, are you doing any exercise either solo or in a class? I'd really appreciate some feedback/motivation this time around. 

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