Why My Sweat Sessions Ended When I Got Pregnant


Confession: I stopped my entire exercise routine the moment a second line appeared on my pregnancy test.

Trust me, I know fetuses benefit if their mothers exercise. Advantages include healthier hearts for women andtheir unborn babies, a smaller incidence of depression in pregnant mothers, and an easier delivery.

Turns out exercise is not only good for me, but it also may increase my chances of having "sportier" kids who also exercise, according to Feed the Belly: A Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide by Health magazine Senior Food and Nutrition Editor Frances Largeman-Roth, RD. Her chapter about exercise was particularly guilt-inducing for me — especially with her tips for safe sweat sessions.

But even with all the benefits, I'm not alone in my exercise boycott. Why don't all moms exercise? Time management is the main difference between pregnant women who exercise regularly and those who did not, according to a new study. The non-exercisers are specifically chided in the study as watching too much television rather than showering their fetus with the numerous proven benefits of exercise.

But I'm not addicted to TiVo — I'm just scared out of my mind.

Next Page: My irrational fear [ pagebreak ]I have an (irrational) belief that if I jostle my belly too much, the baby will come out too early. I have no faith in my body's ability to retain a developing embryo or fetus — even the mighty mucus plug doesn't impress me. After my two miscarriages, I became hyper-conscious of every movement I made during the subsequent pregnancies. I felt that if I shook or tilted my uterus, the baby would come falling out.

When I miscarried the first time, the bleeding really started when I walked up the stairs to our local train platform. Although the pregnancy was probably not viable in the first place, I questioned my actions. If I'd taken the elevator, would that pregnancy have continued? No. The bleeding was already under way, but I came to associate stair-climbing with miscarriage.

In some unusual cases, women shouldn't exercise while pregnant. If you're concerned, read this list of reasons to stay off the treadmill. It includes women like me who may have been leaking amniotic fluid. Even yoga and short hikes feel scary to me, even though I'm 35 weeks pregnant and know that even moderate exercise may very well benefit my unborn child.

To make matters worse, my morning sickness is back. This strikes me as remarkably unfair, as I did my time in the toilet trenches during my first and second trimesters last year. Although it's nowhere near as bad, I feel queasy every morning and at various points throughout the day. Unfortunately, exercise seems to exacerbate the nausea — even a fun tickle session with my daughters sends me straight to the toilet. The mere notion of taking a quick jog around the block is laughable.

But I do find this latest study, comparing the exercise habits of pregnant women, unfair. Television can be a lifesaver during pregnancy — tuning in to a dramatic series or a gripping movie means I can tune out my pregnancy worries, aches, and pains for a few hours. The pregnant women in the study who watched more television may not have been lazy or addicted to The Bachelor, but they may have been using television as a coping mechanism during a potentially angst-ridden pregnancy. I, for one, forgive them.