In true labor, a contraction lasts about 60 seconds and occur 3 – 5 minutes apart.
Coming from being a CrossFit junkie who worked out 5 -6 days a week I immediately thought to myself, one minute of hard work every 5 minutes I can do this. I can do one minute of anything. I’ve done way worse workouts meaning nothing, getting me nothing except for a lot of sweat and pain on a daily basis. This is how I approached the labor and delivery of my son.
Once I became pregnant with my son I immediately started to seek advice on how I could/should continue working out. My Ob-gyn’s responses ranged anywhere from don’t let your heart rate rise above 130 bpm to just keep on doing what you are doing and listen to your body. As an athlete and now to be a mom this was an awfully disappointing response. Was I going to have to stop my CrossFit style workouts completely and resort to very low impact exercises? Would I have to resort to chair workouts I’ve seen on a popular workout site? Would I need to make a huge change in my favorite stress relieving outlet for the next 9 months even if I and baby were healthy?
Luckily as an information seeker, I was able to find some notable resources in the CrossFit/fitness world who had begun realizing the area of prenatal and postpartum fitness guidance had significantly been overlooked. I learned that I could continue most of what I was doing but there were modifications that I would need to do as I approached my due date.
For myself, during my first pregnancy, I worked out 5 -6 days a week for an hour. I learned really fast after becoming a mom that this time was not a realistic amount of time nor was it necessary to be at the fitness level that I wanted. I’m pregnant again and this time around I get in 30 minutes of workout time 4 -5 days a week. Those workout sessions consist of weight training and cardiovascular training in addition to chasing my toddler around. I plan to continue these workouts up until the day I deliver or when my body starts to tell me to slow down.
I might have spent a lot more time in my garage gym the first time around, but I feel like I am preparing my body for labor in just the same way as I did the first time. In fact, I think I am being smarter about the exercises I focus on. I focus on my “foundation” that will help prepare my body for the months ahead and the delivery of my baby. I focus my workouts on exercises that kept my hips, core, and butt strong after all those would be the areas taking the largest beating as my tiny human grows inside me. Squats, hip bridges, step ups, rowing, kettlebell swings lunges, etc. are what most of my workouts included. These would give my muscles the endurance and strength they needed to help carry the added weight of the uterus.
For my son’s birth, I went in with my motto that I could do anything for one minute and I could handle the workout my body was made to go through in order to deliver my baby. I was able to achieve my goal of a birth that was unmedicated although I was induced due to some medical concerns. I can recall my husband timing each contraction letting me know when the minute was almost over and when I would have some relief. I can recall him, my doula, and my doctor counting while I was pushing. I put myself into a mental state that I was getting through one of my workouts. One like I had been doing the last 9 months and years before then too.
I never knew that all along I had been preparing myself for the longest and most important and rewarding workouts of my life for the delivery of my son.
Now I am preparing my body for labor and delivery of my second child. I will enter the unknown of how this labor and delivery will go of course but I know that the foundation I have laid for my body will be the key for my success meeting my goal again of an unmedicated/natural birth. I plan to dig into my “pain cave” and get through each contraction one by one and again doing one of the longest and most important workouts of my life for the delivery of my child.