time flies when you're being a mum

18 Jul, 2012

I’m 36 weeks pregnant (37 tomorrow!) and I can’t seem to keep up with the weeks at the moment there’s so much going on!

The good news is I handed in my report so I’m on maternity leave! Of sorts – I may still be needed to update a picture or a paragraph but hopefully not. The other good news is baby is fine, with its head down, and apart from the odd bout of thrush (ooh the glamour), so am I.

The bad news at the weekend was that I nearly passed out at a dinner party – I was sitting down and had just eaten, so goodness only knows what that was about. I did have heartburn for 2 days afterwards but I feel perfectly fine now. I was probably just a bit over excited by being so grown up/out late/out at all.

The other bad news is that I am potentially very easy to piss off at the moment. I don’t feel especially moody but I may have a bit of pregnancy sensitivity going on. For example, crying when my grandad pointed out the obvious that I’d put on weight (I’m now feeling guilty about dobbing him in in my last post!) and nearly lynching an old ‘hip’ lady in New Look when she told me given my ‘condition’ I’d better get a bigger size in something as she’d just bought it and it was very tight (turned out to be too big thank you, biatch).

Well my latest example of potential pregnancy sensitivity happened yesterday in the gym…I say potential because I don’t think I was being all that sensitive. But see what you think!

I was going to write to Mr Lloyd (if he exists) to advise him that his gyms are missing a trick when it comes to pregnancy and keeping fit. For a family gym whose motto is “LIFE. Be fit for it” it seems a bit ironic that they offer absolutely no classes for pregnant women and very limited support through their personal trainers (at my gym anyway and I’d have to pay loads more to use another one) – what can be closer to LIFE than creating it?!

When I first found out I was pregnant I went to see the trainers to find out what I could and couldn’t do. Once one was found who was willing to touch me with a barge pole (largely chosen because his girlfriend was pregnant so therefore he ‘knew’ about it) the advice I was given was a) do what you were doing already but not too hard and listen to your body, b) don’t do any classes unless you have done it before and c) don’t do any classes anyway because the teacher wouldn’t be able to give me the special attention I need. Nice and inclusive then. What is it they say about pregnancy? Oh yes, it isn’t a disability. It seems to be here.

Anyhoo, I’ve done my own research and I’ve managed just fine, thank you, for the last 8 months and a week, working out between 1 to 4 times a week at the gym. What happened yesterday was I cycled on the bike for half an hour (being careful to keep my heartrate below 140 bpm, natch – advice I have researched not anything the trainers have told me), then did 3 sets of 10 shoulder presses – the most effective exercise to target your shoulders, biceps and triceps (so less effort overall). It was just after my shoulder presses that a generally lovely chap who works in the gym came over and told me very seriously and condescendingly that I shouldn’t be lifting weights over my head.

Now I’ve looked into this. So long as you are doing higher sets of low weights, you keep an eye on your heart rate (again I was taking my time and taking breaks between sets) and obviously don’t lift anything too heavy that you might drop on yourself, you should be fine. I told him this but he said it was to do with blood pressure and then said “I was just saying”.

What about my blood pressure? He doesn’t know anything about my blood pressure and as far as I can see from my experience of advice from the gym, no one there really knows what a pregnant woman can or can’t do, it’s all subjective. And what about that woman in Canada who ran a marathon at full term and gave birth a few hours later? Bet she had high blood pressure during that. Subjective I tell you!!

So I did not take kindly to this ‘advice’, and while he may well be right I found this to be particularly patronising and made me feel like a bad person, so I fumed for a while. I’m fine now (in fact I’m sat in the gym cafe as we speak – haha! – about to go back in the gym to do some more shoulder presses…actually, I’m not sure I’ve got the bottle now, I might do some squats instead), however I do think there are 2 ways to talk to someone. The first is to assume they are an imbecile and know nothing, the other is to have a conversation and find out why they are doing something a certain way and discuss. Please use the second with me, or else! I’ve also got a new gym t-shirt. Just as a warning!

I was going to suggest to Mr Lloyd that they at least offer some sort of prenatal yoga that is free for members and non-members could also pay to take part. I thought this was a good idea because it would be creating a community of mums-to-be (who’ll spend shit loads in the cafe) and gives them unlimited access to an endless stream of women who would soon want to lose weight. Not to mention kids to go in the creche followed by tennis and swimming lessons, etc. Hello? Ca ching?

Either way, Mr Lloyd, you should potentially rethink your approach to pregnancy as the messages are mixed – either offer advice or don’t. But, if I were you I’d get on it as there are loads of women who are creating LIFE and want to Be Fit For It.

See what I did there? 😉

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25 Jun, 2012

I turned 33 weeks pregnant on Thursday and I’m feeling better than I have done at earlier points in my pregnancy. Despite this I didn’t get much chance to workout with various other things getting in the way. So on Saturday I was well up for a good gym session. Here’s what I did:

  • 20 mins on the bike (I did about 140 cals)
  • Resistance work – 3 sets:

> 10 x bicep curl (with 5kg weights)

> 10 x squat to shoulder press (with 5kg weights)

> 10 x tricep curls (with 1 5kg weight)

> 20 x slow sumo squats

  • 10 mins walking (about 40 cals)

In terms of weight gain, I’ve now gained about 24lbs, which is within the guided amount for this stage (despite the chinese, chocolate, crisp mishaps along the way) and leaves between 1 and 11lbs that I can gain (but would prefer not too!) for the next 7 weeks. In my hope of keeping the final weeks under control, and inspired by watching Jodie Marsh’s bodybuilding programme on Saturday night (you may think I’m crazy but I quite like how she looks – minus the bronzer), I’ve ended up looking to the hardcore pregnancy mums for inspiration/advice. I’ve found a particular post by Abigail Kluttz called Baby Bumps and Barbells, which has really useful advice about exercise and includes an eating and exercise plan. At this stage, diet is going to be the main thing that prevents too much weight gain, rather than exercise. So, hands off the pies!

Baby bean must also be feeling pretty good as it’s been kicking like crazy this week and I have finally caught some genuine footage of the little dude doing it’s thing along to 6 music:

The kicks have actually started to twinge or even hurt at times so things must be starting to get a tight in there! I’d been panicking for the last few weeks that junior wasn’t in the right position – i.e. head down. But after a visit to the midwife today, I’m very happy to say that baby is where s/he should be! All hail the space hopper that has become my best friend – here’s my new workstation at home!

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18 Jun, 2012

I’m now 32 weeks pregnant and every time a week passes, a new (often terrifying) thing is brought to my attention.

32 weeks pregnant getting ready for boxercise

Perineum. There’s a word I didn’t know before I got pregnant. It’s the bit between your vagina and bum hole, and up until now I only knew this area, affectionately named by VIZ (a vulgar yet hilarious magazine that hales from Newcastle), as “the Humber Bridge”. The reason it has recently come to my attention is because I’ve just found out that poor little bit can TEAR during child birth.

There’s an element of ‘surely there are worse things to be worrying about during labour?’ Such as the excruciating feeling of each contraction and making sure you’re baby comes out free from distress and as healthy as possible, etc. etc.

While this is true and a little bit of tearing will heal fairly quickly, I still don’t want it to happen to me. What’s more there are actually 4 degrees of tearing ranging from the superficial to full tearing all the way to your bum that can cause anal incontinence. As if pregnancy weren’t bad enough! Plus you are more likely to tear if it is your first vaginal delivery, so that would be me.

The good news is you can prevent it (in fact I know someone who did the following exercise and it worked for her), or at least reduce the severity of any tears. As you can imagine, it is not an especially glamourous procedure, but if it prevents anal incontinence…

Babycentre advises us to do the following from 34 weeks pregnant onwards (although now I’m 32 weeks pregnant, I might start sooner rather than later!):

  • Sit in a semi-reclined position in a warm, comfortable area, with your knees bent and your legs apart. Lubricate your fingers, thumbs, and perineal area with vitamin E oil (from punctured vitamin E capsules), pure vegetable oil, or personal lubricant. Don’t use baby oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly.
  • Place your thumbs about 1 to 1 1/2 inches (to or just past your first knuckle) inside your vagina. Press down toward the rectum and toward the sides at the same time. Gently and firmly continue stretching until you feel a slight burn or tingling.
  • Hold this stretch for about two minutes.
  • Now slowly and gently massage the lower part of the vagina back and forth, hooking your thumbs onto the sides of your vagina and gently pulling the tissue forward, as your baby’s head will do during delivery. Keep this up for three to four minutes.
  • Finally, massage the tissue between the thumb and forefinger back and forth for about a minute.
  • Be gentle — a vigorous touch could cause bruising or swelling. During the massage, avoid pressure on the urethra (urinary opening) as this can lead to irritation or infection.

I’m going to need to reread that a few times before I fully get it and I would also suggest that unless you want your fella thinking that this is some kind of come on, you should take yourself off somewhere quiet and do it on your own!

There are also things you can do during labour to prevent tearing. Namely, try to resist pushing until you are properly ready, which can mean giving the baby time to move slowly down the birth canal and giving the perineum time to stretch.

Also, it’s said that if you have an episiotomy, you are more like to tear badly, i.e. 3rd or 4th degree tear. I don’t personally want to have an episiotomy, or an intervention for that matter, but for more information about episiotomies so you can make your own mind up, see Babycentre’s piece on episiotomy.

Tearing is potentially the thing that can get over looked during the birthing plan, but if you do talk to your midwife/doctor about your wishes about intervention they should certainly be able to advise about how to reduce tearing during labour and help you on the day too.


06 Jun, 2012

I went properly swimming for the first time since I got pregnant on Saturday and it was great.

I’m beginning to get ‘uncomfortable’. It’s a bore to moan but I do have a point so bare with me… I’ve got to the point where generally sitting hurts a bit because my ribcage digs into my bump. If I’m leaning against something, my sides start to ache after a while and sitting in one place for a while makes my arse ache so I have to get up and stretch it out.

Stretching it out is a site to behold and requires a bit of a waddle, so really isn’t a good look. Once I’ve got moving the waddle does decrease in intensity but it’s a far cry from a graceful sway (and I’m sure the clompy wedges don’t help matters – fine if you’re stood still, ridiculous when walking).

After the antenatal class, I’ve become a bit obsessed with getting the baby used to being in the right position in the hope that when the time comes junior will instinctively be headfirst with it’s back against my stomach (as opposed to back to back which apparently causes prolonged labour and is generally more painful). When I’m sat in front of the telly I try to sit forward, and I’ve been doing pelvic tilts when I need to ‘stretch it out’. I can feel when I do them that the baby is turning around, so they do work. The teacher also said in terms of pregnancy exercises, swimming was great as you are on your front, which I never am, so gravity will pull the baby’s back against my stomach.

Well, what a revelation – I don’t know why I’ve been putting off so long. I finally got myself some ridiculously expensive (but good!) googles from the gym and got myself down to the pool. It was lovely. I felt like how a whale must feel…despite being massive, I felt graceful and energetic and pretty much not pregnant. It was a really good workout as I have to do front crawl (breast stroke is off limits due to the pelvis thing), so my arms got a good pacing and I felt out of breath, which I haven’t really been able to achieve on the cross trainer (due to the pelvis thing!). I then jumped into the jacuzzi, ignoring the warning signs that pregnant women should avoid increasing their temperature (it’s barely luke warm compared to my baths), and had a nice bubbly soak.

I’m working up to it – today I did 20 lengths (it’s a 25m pool, so half a kilometre) and I want to keep increasing that by 5 lengths a visit until I’m easily doing 30-40 lengths. I also still want to do resistance training in the gym, so on days when ‘up for it’ and I don’t mind washing my hair I’m going to do the following routine:

5 mins warm up on the cross-trainer

15 mins Leg and arm exercises (such as squats, sumo squats, bicep curls, shoulder presses, etc.)

15 mins swimming and try to keep increasing the number of lengths I can do in that time

5 mins bubbly soak!

What bliss!


Image courtesy of Guardian.co.uk

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21 May, 2012

On Thursday, the first day of my third trimester, I mentioned that I managed to get back into the gym to do some non-painful exercise (click here to see what I did). After a week of doing very little, my thighs were killing me on Friday (which is a good thing as I felt like I had finally done something!) and spurred on my success I decided I’d do another exercise DVD review – to see how well it fares as far as pregnancy exercises go now I’m a little less mobile.

I reviewed Davina’s Body Buff a few weeks ago when I was 25 weeks pregnant and blissfully ignorant of any pelvis problems lurking around the corner! Now that things are beginning to seize up a bit I was intrigued to see how I’d get on with a different one of Davina’s DVDs (variety is the spice of life after all!), High Energy Five.

When I first got this DVD, Alex (bezzie mate, used to live together and were business partners until the beginning of the year) and I were soooooo excited to get stuck in because there was a 20 minute aerobic section that promised to burn fat. A workout? In 20 minutes? Hooray! We did it, completely ignoring the warm up and down sections and boy did we regret it. Neither of us could walk for the next few days and our carves were still hurting a week later. So my first word of warning is whether you’re preggo or not, don’t let your excitement get the better of you – always do the warm up!

Davina – High Energy Five [DVD]

Much like Body Buff, this DVD is separated into 5 sections so you can put together your own workout. If you do one section (plus warm up and down, of course), it’ll take about 30 minutes, which is ideal for anyone pregnant who’s looking to do 30 minutes of exercise a day. Here are the sections:

  • Warm up
  • Aerobics
  • Legs
  • Pump (for the upper body)
  • Abdominals *
  • Boxing
  • Cool down

*again, I didn’t do the abdominals section for obvious reasons but have done a lot in the past and it’s pretty good.

Friday – Pump and Boxing

Like I said, I was pretty spurred on after managing to go to the gym on Thursday so I did not 1 but 2 sections! This takes about 45/50 mins with the warm up and down.

The pump follows the usual 3 sections separated by 1-minute interval to raise your heart rate. For the intervals, I find that I can do ‘flick kicks’ (see first interval in the legs sections) and skipping on the spot quite comfortably. They have a low impact version, so it should be possible for you whatever your mobility, just tone it down if necessary. The arm exercises are not especially hard and I like doing them (again, time to get some heavier weights so it’s more of a challenge!).

I’d noticed, thanks to my new sports bra that is now too small… oh the shame, that my upper back is looking chubby. So, to follow on from the pump, I decided I’d also see what the boxing section was like. I remembered from doing boxing previously that I would always have sore muscles in my back the next day. It was great! It wasn’t too complex so my simple pregnancy brain could follow and there wasn’t too much jumping around. Plus, they combined some simple (non-pelvic painful) leg toning exercises as well. Next time I do it I’m going to use dumbbells to increase the workout my arms get.

All in all, it was a good workout.

Sunday – Aerobics

I was not looking forward to this as I hadn’t done it since doing it with Alex 3 years ago. I remembered it as being quite boring and repetitive. Turns out it is repetitive but it was really quite alright. I was able to do some jumping around and certainly finished the section with pink cheeks!

There were bits I couldn’t do, for example I didn’t want to do any spotty dogs or star jumps, so I just replaced it with the low impact version (half jacks) and when they do the jumping front, side and back (you’ll see what I mean when you do it), I replaced this again with half jacks. Also, because I knew I would be doing the low impact version for much of it I did the whole routine carrying some 0.5kg dumbbells in each hand, which worked out quite nicely to increase the intensity in ways that don’t hurt!

Monday – Legs

My beloved legs section – I mentioned in Davina Buff review that I love doing lunges but since my pelvic problem I found that I couldn’t do lunges anymore so I was expecting this section to be a pain in the arse. Literally. I’d prepared myself for doing some different exercises if necessary, for example, I’d found this exercise (see pic below) in this month’s Women’s Health Magazine, which doesn’t hurt.

With a bit of tweaking (for the front lunges, instead of alternating legs, which puts pressure on the pelvis to perform balancing duties, do 12 on one side raising up and down with feet fixed in one place, then 12 on the other side), it was actually alright. Even the side lunges were OK providing I didn’t stick my bum out too much or dip too low. In the last section, I couldn’t do the squat to kicks so I did squats to reverse leg lifts instead to work my bum (much the same as the exercise in the image above but without the step).

Warm up and Cool Down – I didn’t really like the warm up much when I first got this as I felt it was a bit drawn out. It’s actually ideal if you’re pregnant though because it’s not too hard core so you can comfortably mobilize yourself. I’m thinking that later in my pregnancy if I’m struggling with doing anything else I could at least do a couple of Davina’s warm ups back to back instead! The cool down is a nice one, particularly the sit down bit that is great for stretching the lower back (although bump is starting to get in the way). I find Davina says a few goofy things in the cool down that get on my nerves (I still love you though!). Just zone those bits out!

In my opinion another good one in terms of pregnancy exercises – the low impact versions of jumpy bits make it ideal and you still get a sweat on, and I think the boxing section is my new favourite going forward. Do let me know what you think and how you get on if you do get it!

NOTE: please do not do these or another exercises mentioned in this blog UNLESS you have OK-ed it with your midwife. Also, stop doing any move immediately if it hurts, you don’t want to end up like I was a few weeks ago!

Other Posts about Pregnancy Exercises you might like:

Exercise for Pregnant Women (a guide to the dos and don’ts)

Davina Body Buff Review

Trimester 3 pregnancy exercises

Workout for the arms

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