Category Archives: Pregnancy

The Canadian Triathlon

You may have seen this picture on Facebook:


Yes, I was a spectator at my goal triathlon. No, it wasn’t because of injury. It was that damn FIRST TRIMESTER again…..YES my friends, I am PREGNANT!

Now, you all know how motivated I am. I think I miss an average of two workouts every six months (barring travelling). I was convinced when I saw that positive pregnancy test that I would be competing regardless. First, I was in peak form, I had gotten pregnant on the toughest week of my speed training program. Second, it was the summer and nothing could stop me from getting outside to run.

Well let me tell you, friends, that pregnancy has other plans.

I went through a mild depression where I could barely stand the idea of unbundling myself from my cocoon on the couch to pee. Food was…unappetizing to say the least. Cereal, tuna and white rice, and the odd Subway sandwich, if I had any at all, meant I was getting less than half my usual calories, and no fresh vegetables (couldn’t even look at em). Those calories had to feed me, a rapidly growing baby, and a nursling….which meant exercise wasn’t a smart idea, even if I could drag my ass out there. I was doubled over with nausea for five straight weeks. Standing up from sitting I nearly blacked out from the dizziness. I would get winded walking up the stairs.

I know all the physiological reasons for all of these changes and I won’t bore you with the science. I know exercise is supposed to help, but my friends, the decision was made for me. I could not do anything. My body wanted me to stay still, to lie down, try to put on a few pounds, and there was nothing I could do to make it change its mind.

I am now 13 weeks into this pregnancy and very happy to say goodbye to the storm that is the first. The depression has lifted. I started taking Diclectin for the nausea. I ran four 4 milers last week, and I can eat all the things again (with only the odd “ew hell no”). I stopped breastfeeding, and R seems pretty ok with it.

But…it meant I wasn’t going to be able to compete in the triathlon. As much as I would have liked to, it really was a non issue when I had to decide. I couldn’t train on the bike (had a little bleeding after a bike ride once that made me nervous). It was too hot to run during the day, which would have spiked my core temperature – a huge no when you’re pregnant. Swimming was the only thing I enjoyed but getting there meant enduring motion sickness in the car (not to mention I would have to get up off the couch) so I opted to watch elite athletes perform at their peak in the Olympics instead. On the couch of course. It was a nice distraction.

Huge props to my buddy Ian who completed his first Super Sprint Triathlon! He is the one who, years ago, mentioned a try-a-tri, which I didn’t know existed, and hence planted the seed. I now have the gear and the motivation to do one after this baby, and it is a great goal to have for 6 months post partum. Distance TBA….

This pregnancy, I do have my sights set on The Cookie Run 5K in November though! Hey, 22 weeks pregnant running for Girl Guide cookies….how does it get any better?!

10 Things I Want My Newborn Mama-Self to Know

Four months ago I underwent major abdominal surgery. I had hoped for a Birth Centre birth, empowering and life changing…but I ended up with an inpatient trial of induction and a cesarean birth – surprisingly still empowering and life changing. I’m not complaining, I had the best care you could hope for in that situation…and I pray for anyone who ends up in my shoes to have the same wonderful emotional experience that I had.

Rereading my birth story has brought me to tears. My baby girl is so special, so amazing, and so many things I can’t even begin to describe. But now I sound like every other blog about babies. Blah blah blah my baby is so awesome lol. What I want to go back and tell my pregnant self:

  1. Your painful skin will stop hurting, so stop worrying about it and enjoy wearing the granny panties for a while.
  2. You only really need three hours of sleep at a time to get a good night’s rest. If you need a glass of wine, have it AS SOON as the baby passes out and you should be good for the next feed. Make sure you have a bottle on standby in case the baby falls asleep on you.
  3. Get a good night light way before baby comes – anything red is awesome. (It’ll help with those late night pee trips too.)
  4. Start a bedtime routine right away – not for the baby, for YOU. Read a little bedtime story, have a boob, massage their feet, sing a lullaby. It is pretty cool when THEY start to notice that you’re doing the same thing and smile at you when you open that book.
  5. Buy a video baby monitor. I have a fantastic baby monitor, and I am loving it. I sit here, watching her sleep soundly while I type…(AS SHE WAKES UP WHILE I TYPE THIS) LOL….
  6. Feed feed feed. Feed again. And again. Do anything that makes her happy…why not? You can sleep when you’re dead. Sound familiar? Now you’re doing it for someone else – someone you love more than life on Earth.
  7. Move the TV somewhere convenient. Ellen might be on 4 times a day, but baby naps when she wants to and by golly I don’t want to miss what Owen Wilson does on Friday.
  8. That 2 month “period” does end. It really does, and it’s not unusual. You can start running before it ends, just listen to your body. You have been listening and trusting it for months now, so why would it be any different now?
  9. Those things in your baby’s diaper? – also not unusual. All those things. Forget about it and focus on the smiles. (I know you won’t so check with the doc but don’t get too wrapped up in it – a lot of babies have wacky poops.)
  10. Give your baby a soother, a swaddle, a hug, a cuddle, a cuddle-swaddle (hell, hold their arms away from pulling out the damn soother they are addicted to now lol)…whatever it takes. They will only be small (and immobile) for so long…they need to know they have someone watching out for them. Caress their foreheads and let them teach YOU how to love them better.

And now I have to go…the baby monitor shows a little girl stirring. She needs a cuddle-swaddle!

Week 42: When the Stars Line Up

I think Reagan decided to come because I drank decaf instant coffee. Seriously. I wanted something warm, and the only thing they gave me in the morning at the hospital was decaf Sanka, in an orange package that looked like it was from 1975. I had a few sips, and that’s when her heart decelerations started happening. Decaf?!? I’m outta here!

Our birth story is like every other woman’s. Not at all what you expected, no matter how prepared you think you are.

We went for our first of two ultrasounds on Tuesday, and everything was looking fine. On Thursday we scored 6/8, it looked like there wasn’t much fluid left. Our midwife said to meet us at the hospital following the ultrasound – we had enough time to grab a bite to eat at Rockin Johnny’s Diner. I’m glad we did – when we got to the Civic the roller coaster ride began.

We monitored baby’s heart rate, checked my bp, checked my cervix – still closed and about a cm to thin still. I was no longer a candidate for outpatient Cervadil, but it was recommended to start induction here, now. Up to the Birthing Unit we go…a sudden sense of indefinite time mixed with an impending birthday caught me off guard. This was it, this room would be where my baby came…but it didn’t feel real. Cervadil started, hubby went home to get some things for an unanticipated overnight stay. Here, I admit, I was emotional. I hadn’t thought at the ultrasound that I wouldn’t get another nap in with my cats. I was about to embark on the “hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” as so many women have said, and instead of the excitement I had felt over the past 9 months, I was feeling apprehension and sadness.

The midwife told me my baby wasn’t small. The head was normal but the belly was big. I still didn’t really want to know how big – but I guessed 8lbs and she said that she would be “surprised” if baby was less than that. (I found out later that the tech had said the baby was over 10lbs…baby was 7lbs 5 oz.) Hubby returned, we got set up with a birthing ball and contractions were coming quickly, irregularly, and sometimes feeling like one on top of another. This was the Cervadil and not my body doing this but I breathed through the medicine and practiced relaxing. Time went quickly. In-laws came (bearing dinner!) and laughed, relaxed, enjoyed some time together. MIL should be a Doula, she knew instinctively how to quiet the room and help me focus during a contraction, what a Godsend. It’s funny, you want to laugh and play between them but when you’re in one, you just want people to shut the hell up!

Overnight the contractions slowed to about one every 5-6 minutes and I started to feel like the drugs were “wearing off” and my body was taking over. It was less intense in the morning but I was finally excited. The fetal heart rate monitor had been on me once every 2 hours for half an hour, and once for an hour overnight – the nurse explained that there were small decelerations of the heart at the start of a contraction but it quickly recovered so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Our morning nurse had me hooked up to the fetal heartrate monitor (which I was starting to dislike strongly) and we chatted – she noticed my green mala and asked if it represented anything. My friend gave me the mala after I told her about how I was praying to Gabriel and Raphael for a safe, healthy pregnancy and birth. We had a quick google on the Archangel Raphael – he is the patron of healers and those in need of healing.

Shortly after that, baby’s heart rate decelerated from a healthy 140 to 80 for about 7 minutes. I flipped and flopped on the bed while she jiggled my belly and we got it going again back up to a nice steady beat. Unfortunately this event meant talking to the obstetricians on duty about our induction plans and what might happen next. We removed the Cervadil and checked me – still not dilated at all. During this we had another deceleration, I asked hubby to get the Doula here, and things started happening quickly. I was told the safest thing to do was to have a cesarean section because baby wasn’t coping well with the induction process, and since I wasn’t even close to the magic 10cm, it was clear baby wasn’t going to enjoy the ride. Will I get to watch or can my husband videotape the birth? Will my Doula be able to come in with me? Depends on the surgeon but most likely yes. The midwife arrived, but she was one I haven’t met yet but had seen at the collective – busy day for births! Leap of faith…I signed the form to have the section around 10:30am and I was being whisked down the hall to the operating room. Not dramatic at all.

Tears….but because all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, I will be meeting my baby – in less than half an hour.

The OR is cold, it’s surreal talking to the anesthetist through her mask. I’m getting a spinal so I’ll be awake. I don’t want the cover down anymore, I’m staying strong but this is overwhelming and moving at lightning speed. The spinal makes my legs warm, then tingly, then numb. She tells me it’s working because they tested me thoroughly and if it wasn’t working I would not have liked it! Good. I can do this. I close my eyes and wait. I feel movement but no pain. I hear hubby’s voice in the room finally, what a relief! He is there with my Doula, they come to my head and comfort me, stroking my forehead between my eyes…they will let us video the birth! Movement and I hear someone say that I will feel a lot of pressure when the baby is birthed, like someone sitting on my chest, are you ready?…like nothing you can imagine, just keep breathing, baby is coming….and it’s over. I refuse to open my eyes, but I can hear that my heart beat is still beeping on the monitor. Hubby watches to find out the gender – girl!!…Doula asks if I can hear my baby crying…Hubby go to her, be with her! Time seems to stand still now, how much longer until I am done? Ten minutes, I can do this…marathon focus…and hubby returns with a little swaddled bundle of pink skin and red hair, holds her cheek to mine, I can feel her breath through her nose, can see her little red eyebrows furrow…she’s beautiful and I love her. 

reagan 1

It’s a blur how I got out of that room and into the post operation area, but a naked pink baby was being put on my bare chest and suddenly I was a mother. The midwife helped me put her to my breast, she was very eager to feed. So much information all at once, so much that you cannot prepare for. My legs started coming back to life and we made our way to the post partum ward.reagan 2

The hospital stay wasn’t uneventful – we learned how to bathe the baby, and swaddle, and oh yeah I got the shakes so bad that the “Race Team” had to come. HA! About 5 hours post op, I didn’t know why I was shaking and it was hurting my incision, so it was scaring me. Their initial thought was pre-eclampsia, but I had normal bp during the whole induction process and pregnancy. It wasn’t a seziure or convulsions since I was conscious and communicating fine during the whole episode. I was picturing a junior mint being the culprit. They ended up putting me back in the Birthing Unit with an overnight nurse to watch me. The next morning I had another event. This time, the nurse on duty got hot towels and after a few minutes I was calm again. Hrm…again in the shower, the shakes, but towels and a hot blanket did the trick. Blood tests came back with nothing. Later, the midwife would tell me that lots of women will get the shakes about an hour after birth – hey, you just lost a litre of fluid and a child, it’s a shock to your system. I guess mine was delayed. I don’t do well with major abdominal surgery I guess. (Who does?!)

Back in the  post partum ward, getting breastfeeding going was a bit of a struggle. I had injured my left nipple on a bad latch and was beginning to feel like nursing was too hard…this baby needs food, has a phenomenal set of lungs, and loves to suckle, how do I know when she’s eating and when it’s for comfort? I gave her a soother instead of the breast, am I already a terrible mother? The Lactation Consultant who saw us earlier that day had us latched so easily, how the hell do we get that to happen again? Then something magic happened overnight – baby R figured out how to latch. Blew my mind – this little human has ideas and she will bring them to the table! She is teaching me already. With a good latch the pain wasn’t unbearable anymore, and the prescription had mostly cleared things up before we even left the hospital. My poor husband has seen more than he ever thought he would from me – emotionally and physically! He is my rock!

2014-08-17 18.08.15

Overnights were magical, spending time with my husband and our baby, watching him sit with R on his chest between feeds. It was a suspension of time, and being out of our home element added to the surreality. When I finished a good late night feed he would super swaddle her and take her for a walk down the hall, gently tapping her back as she fell asleep – and we both could get 3 solid hours of sleep ourselves! The first time it happened we both woke up slightly in shock and checked to make sure the baby was still alive…we did it! She survived! LOL!

By the last day I could walk easier, but I was going to miss those bars they have installed beside the toilets! The midwife came to discharge us and gave me hope with a quick discussion about VBAC. I don’t know if I trust my body but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. It was a challenge getting pregnant and a challenge getting the labor process started, but I did grow a perfect little bean that passed all her hospital tests with flying colors.

They let us leave with it! She slept soundly in the car, and, classy gal she is, waited until we put her car seat down on the floor at home to totally shit her pants while still strapped in. Welcome home!

Week 41: Priorities Defined

nobabyyet

I’m surrounded by the most supportive, amazing people and this baby is going to be the luckiest kid in the world to have so many happy, positive influences in its life. I don’t know how I scored…no one has judged me for the decisions I have made, the priorities I have, or the way we are carrying out the end of the pregnancy. If they have been judging, they’re doing it silently and that is appreciated too. 😛 I’m a very stubborn, emotional (redheaded) warrior woman so hopefully everyone isn’t tiptoeing around me…bah, what do I care, tip toe away! I’m doing my thang!! LOL!

It has been 28C and steamy everyday for the past two weeks, and I have bailed on all my activity. I did one yoga class after my due date, and one 2 mile walk last week sometime…a couple of brief shopping and grocery trips…but to be honest I’m heavy, lazy, and pendulous. I sit on my butt, nap with the cats, and eat delicious food made by everyone else but me, and then they do the dishes too. I watch football games on the couch and go to bed early. Unfortunately the longer this baby cooks, the more I could get used to this!

With my due date long gone, the question of induction has come up. How invasive do I want to get to start labor before the 42 week mark, in order to deliver at the Birth Centre? Acupuncture and a stretch and sweep are two somewhat non-invasive ways of stimulating labor – not necessarily comfortable but they will only work if you’re ready anyway. Is the Birth Centre experience important enough to go as far as to force labor to start medically on an outpatient basis with Cervadil? Well, honestly, no. There ya go, my priority during this unanticipated late term had been defined – allow for natural progression of labor so the baby gets the most out of its time in the womb room. If that means going over 42 weeks and delivering at my second choice location (the hospital), so be it. I will miss the jacuzzi though.

The pregnancy has gone very well, I’ve been low risk and I remain low risk, and at 41w3d with the recent “perfect” ultrasound (that’s what the tech said!!), I can confidently choose to keep this baby growing naturally and wait for labor. I’ve been checked, things are starting to progress, and it just appears that I am doing it later than the average woman. The only “science” that we base due dates on is a woman’s recollection of her last period and a dating ultrasound at 6-7 weeks…a lot happens in 9 (or 10!) months and I’m happy to let the divine mother finish her work.

Week 40: The Ultimate Milestone

So here it is, the milestone of all mile markers. 40 whole weeks, “we did it!!”…hard to remember that it’s just an ETA. After 41 weeks we go for an ultrasound to check on baby and placenta, and after 42 weeks we start daily surveillance – so this is the time to relax, go for dinner, get massages, and enjoy the serenity of the belly-babysitter.

2014-07-25 09.27.24I don’t feel a “coconut between my legs”, and running is still as comfortable as it can be. Ok, not entirely true – baby is big and low now. The bladder is taking a beating (kegels are engaged over the miles!). When baby moves during a run I can feel it through my abdominals, which is really weird! I have to shift my ribcage forward significantly to compensate for the sway in my back. I am so grateful for ChiRunning posture and focuses, without them I know I would not be running even the 2 miles every 3rd day that I can achieve now, despite the huge pendulous belly hanging lower everyday. Stacking your spine correctly makes all the difference.

So, is baby on its way?? No Braxton Hicks that I can complain about. In fact, as the midwife was feeling the baby this week I apparently had a contraction. She called it a “Painless Braxton-Hicks”. Well I’ll be, things really are happening. I’m in no rush though. At this point the stretch marks are what they are, and I’m finally convinced it’s not going to punch through my over-stretched belly button, alien-style. Come out when you’re ready little baby. Almost stupidly active at times, especially around 9-10pm when I’m heading to bed, you can watch it like a thunderstorm, knees and feet just flailing around. As long as that head stays engaged, go crazy baby! Of course as soon as you take out the camera the show’s over…

I wonder if this little tot is going to make this pregnancy a true marathon of 42.2 weeks…I think I’d take that fun comparison over 42.2 hours of labour.

 

Weeks 36-39: The Taper (and midnight thoughts on labor)

I had a rather serendipitous encounter with a running coach who came to my work as client during my last week. We got to talking, of course, about running and how I was maintaining a few miles every other day. He said that the best recoveries he has seen are the women who were able to take a couple of weeks off before the birth – in the vein of a taper for a marathon. Hey, labor got its name from somewhere, and as with a marathon, you need to be in peak physical condition but also refreshed and rested. It’s not worth it to tire yourself out before you cross the start line.

I have remained quite active over this past month, even if my Garmin didn’t track a lot of it. We have had big shopping days, spent time in the garden, and some of my nesting has required me to walk up and down our two flights of stairs a heck of a lot. I have kept up 2 miles here and there as well, although I admit I have taken a week off running at a time because of my extracurriculars.

Walking is harder than running at this stage. While running I can engage my core and essentially float forward with gravity. Walking doesn’t have the forward lean that I’m accustomed to and I bounce and heelstrike (and waddle) a little more. Alignment needs to be constantly considered either way, since I can see my tailbone swinging out behind me now. I engage my core, but what has really helped is keeping my ribcage over my lower back, shifted forward a little. I’m noticing throughout the day that I really do want to arch my upper back to compensate for the belly in front.

don't give up

No matter how big you thought you were a month ago, how uncomfortable you think you felt a week ago…each week you manage to get bigger and more awkward. I’m told it’s a preparation for labor too, you think you can’t handle another contraction, and then you do – until you are finally holding a baby. In my mind it’s comparable to that first marathon. Your body and mind are beat up and fragile…and then you pass the 18 mile marker….SO many more miles to go. You don’t know what lies ahead, if you’ll hit the wall, if you’ve trained and fuelled properly, if you will even make it or how you will feel crossing that finish line. At least with a marathon you GET mile markers!

leap of faithI imagine it’s a leap of faith to keep going during labor. The gruelling 40 day meditations I have inflicted upon myself in the past required a leap of faith of sorts.  Many of them include arm movements or held positions and mantras that test your perseverance mentally and physically. Ideally you lose your “self” in the movement and the mantra, surrender your pain/pleasure/intense feeling to God or the universe. It wrings out your emotions and brings the junk to the surface so you can scrub your mind clean. You never know what will come up through those 31 minutes across the days but it’s always worth it in the end.

If marathons and meditations have taught me anything, it’s that if you persevere you will be rewarded, and in ways you could not have imagined possible. Nine months is a long journey, especially when you can only guess how it ends. You are changing the world around you by bringing a piece of God, a part of the universe, out of your body and into existence…to grow and live and experience the world for itself with you as its first guide. Indescribable, unpredictable magic.

 

Weeks 33-35: A House With Running Shoes

The third trimester is by far my favorite. There are so many fantastic movements going on in my belly! I play with the little feet and knees that poke out every so often, and stroke the little hard area that I think is the back. I don’t even mind the three point flip in the night, which usually coincides with a pee break – it helps when you have a great mattress and a sweet stack of pillows. I still have morning sickness (!!) but most days it’s manageable. Eating helps a lot. So do ice cream sandwiches and nibs.

The best part is, I’m still running! The past three weeks I’ve been able to get a 2-3 mile run in almost every other day. Interestingly enough, I feel even more inspired to run because of the physical challenges this house-like belly has created – thank the Lord for my ChiRunning focuses! The bigger I get the more motivated I am to get out there on the good days. Running actually helps keep the swelling to a minimum, and bonus – I don’t feel nauseated when I’m on the road. I am getting slower and slower, but on good days I can still run the whole way. On not-as-good days I’ll do intervals of walking and running. I have found people in the neighborhood have been supportive if they do say anything, which is good news for what I hope is the new accepted norm!

Today is not that day

I definitely respect the “growth spurt” days, however. When I feel like an overfilled water balloon, the exhaustion hits, and my hormones get out of control I take the day off – usually end up napping on the couch right after dinner to ease the swelling, or waddling around complaining about how far away I have to stand from the sink to do the dishes. For the  most part my hips have held up. I do find now that my left side is finicky and on the verge of a jam, but as long as I’m very aware of my posture while I run, I get away with it. I am pretty sure the stiffness in my hips that I feel now is going to stick with me through to the end, whether I run or walk or sit on my butt all day. May as well get out there!

Now I hear things get even more interesting when the baby drops…someone said it’s like a coconut between your legs. My motto: cross that bridge when you come to it!

Weeks 31-32: Third Trimester in full swing!

 

32 weeksMy belly is quite large, and it’s begun attracting attention from strangers! I had to ask the midwife if she was sure I wasn’t carrying twins, after comparing myself to other women in the same week. In all honesty, the third trimester has been incredibly good to me thus far. I’m less nauseated in the mornings, many thanks to my daily lemon ginger tea in the car. I am only peeing once during the night, and I’m sleeping well despite the acid trip dreams. I had one bad night and subsequent day of heartburn but for the most part I can’t complain. I have internalized that no single day is the same and no symptom is forever. I am living in the moment, loving how my baby feels when it moves, and….I’m running again!!!!!!!! I’m even entering my workouts as a “Run” on my runkeeper! I don’t do more than 3 miles at a time, but my pelvis is awesome. Things can change, and I take each day as it comes, but for now I’m going to rock a few runs a week.

It’s always been harder for me to get up to run in the morning, but I know that’s when I feel the best/least bloated. Well wishing parents of young’uns who tell me to “get my sleep while I can” make me want to lay in bed for that extra hour! (NB: none of said well wishers want to actually HEAR how well you have slept…! lol!) If I had my way I would do runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday – but I am acutely aware of how things can change each day so I’m flexible. Every other day has been working really well for me. I’m doing walk/run intervals, and now that I have my Garmin set for 5 running intervals of about a quarter mile I feel like I’m “in training” for the big day. (Is there such thing as a fetish for your Garmin beeping?)

I like to think I built a nice strong placenta during the second trimester. I MUST know the size of my placenta when it’s out! (There’s something to fulfill my competitive side – I want to have a bigger than average placenta!!!) If you have a more efficient placenta working overtime when you’re NOT active – and I was down for the count for about 6 weeks – you could have a fatter baby. My “fear” now is that I’ll have a big baby. I’m not very big to start out with, but I truly believe I can birth whatever I grow…this is also why I have asked my support team to avoid discussion with me about the size of the baby. Need to know basis only please!

how far along

5 Key Pregnancy Alignment Reminders

So what the heck are we supposed to do when everything we are used to dealing with in our bodies changes? When our bodies loosen up with relaxin, the pelvis directly supports 30%-50% more weight as it tilts back and separates, and you’re accumulating mass at lightning speed? Experiment, I guess…!

At first I let it all go, thinking that my body would know what to do – how wrong I was. An old back injury resurfaced, and a new sharp pain in my groin would literally incapacitate me if I sat too long or walked too far. Both these issues led to 5 Active Release Technique sessions (highly recommended) and 6 weeks of experimenting with how to line myself back up so that I could stay active and healthy. I’m at 31 weeks now I have no pelvic pain. I am even back to running (albeit short slow intervals). I’m not going to say it’s easy to run with a sandbag strapped to your belly, but it’s possible to do it without pain!

As a trained professional dancer, and dance teacher for 10 years I thought I knew what I was doing with my posture. Here’s what pregnancy has (re)taught me. It has helped me immensely, I hope it can help you too. Make sure to try this standing sideways in a mirror so you can see the adjustments you are making. Each adjustment builds on the previous, so don’t lose your focus – but if you find there is too much take one at a time.

1. Keep your tailbone underneath you.

This does NOT mean tucking your pelvis in by squeezing your butt muscles. Think more along the lines of kegels. Stand sideways in a mirror and engage your pelvic floor while you think about moving the tailbone underneath you. You should see a subtle change and your butt should still be relaxed. Oh yeah, and breathe!!

2. Lift your lower abdominal muscles.

Yes, these still exist, and chances are when you moved your tailbone with your pelvic floor you also already engaged your lower core. Still standing sideways in the mirror, actively engage and release your lower abdominals to see how it affects your belly and your pelvis.

3. Lengthen your spine.

There are a few ways to approach this. Dance teachers will tell you to pretend you have a string coming out the top of your head. I like to imagine being lifted up by the “palatine uvula” or the dangly bit at the back of your throat (betcha didn’t know that’s what it was called!). Either way you should gain a couple inches. This will also relax your chin into a more natural position.

4. Careful not to over-arch your upper spine or hunch your shoulders.

There is a delicate balance between arching and hunching, the key is to find the middle. Your ribcage should be on top of the curve in your spine, not in front or behind it. Relax your shoulders. Try engaging your upper abs too, see how it feels to add support for that growing baby belly.

5. When walking and running, lean from the ankles, despite the weight in front.

If you are keeping the core aligned (and you’re breathing) try walking by leaning from your ankles and letting gravity take you forward. There are a few ideas you can use here, my favorite is it feels like you are being pulled forward with a bungee cord tied between your legs at your tailbone. Another is like being pushed from the lower sacrum (the triangular area above your tailbone). You don’t want to bend at the waist though, so work hard to maintain the alignment you have created with the first four steps.

If you can sit on a ball during the day at work or watching TV at home, you can practice these posture tips with ease throughout the day too. I heart my exercise ball!! Good luck!

Please comment below if any of this worked or didn’t work for you! I’m always looking for feedback, ways to clarify or improve things that have been working for me!

Week 29-30: Cheering at the Ottawa Marathon

At 30 weeks pregnant, I accepted a DNS in the half marathon. Funny, I also sorted out my form and essentially fixed my groin pain. Serendipitous timing? Or the universe saying “finally, you made the right choice not to walk 13 miles!”? If I engage my lower abdominals (I still HAVE those??), and keep my tailbone under me using my pelvic floor, I can subtly align my pelvis. IF there was any pain, within about 30 seconds of “walking it off”, the pain goes away. Huzzah!

I had an interesting discussion with a mother of four who suggested creating a bowl with your pelvis and not letting the baby “spill out” over the front. I haven’t been using my lower (or any!) abdominals for fear of being too tight, winding up with the dreaded diastasis recti (when your abdominal muscles split apart down the middle like a zipper). However, you do need abdominal tone to support the weight of the baby. Sure, you’re not supposed to do crunches but you also don’t want to just let it all hang out! Where is the balance? How can you possibly know? The unknowns in pregnancy are so numerous you really have to just learn to cross each bridge when you come to it, and do the best you can with the information you have.

2014-05-25 09.26.57Despite all this, I decided early during week 29 that I have been inactive enough, even walking the half is not smart. I made plans with a bud to cheer at the race instead, and ended up finding some of the old ‘lemons! My bud was registered for the half as well and didn’t participate due to injury – but we still got to have our post-race celebration burger together. That was well deserved, it was pretty exhausting cheering for 3 hours…!

The really exciting news is, now that I have figured out how to walk pain-free, I have started doing short intervals running as well, being very careful to maintain my form – and I’ve been successful! I haven’t felt pain during or after my wogs. Who knows, maybe I can sign up for a 5k in June or July sometime! (Yes I’m addicted to races, get over it!) Either way, my plan to stay active until delivery is happily back in action after a not-so-brief hiatus. Hopefully what I have learned can be carried over to the next pregnancy. I’ll get that half marathon pregnant goal checked off eventually!

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