During pregnancy everyone asks about the baby. Your doctor wants to know how much it's grown. The nurse asks if you plan to breastfeed. Friends ask "what's the gender?", "what's the name?", "will you do baby-led weaning?" Family asks which school system they'll attend, and if you'll still be home for Christmas. Coworkers ask how many weeks left. Strangers ask how many are in there.
But what about the mom?
There is one message out there, and while it carries benefits (or at least I think is trying to), I'm going to unload my issues with it. That message? #fitpregnancy and everything surrounding it. The MAIN focus we see being directed towards moms during pregnancy, is fitness.
Sound weird that as a trainer I have issues with this? Hear me out.
First - YES there are absolutely multiple benefits to working out during pregnancy. Research supports this, I am not disputing this, nor saying that someone shouldn't workout during pregnancy. I absolutely support and think they should - in ways that feel good for their pregnancy body, and ALSO support their mind.
Buuuuut. (You knew there was a but coming).
But why is it "fit pregnancy"? Images of thin women with round bumps looking adorable as they squat, in adorable outfits, smiling. Or in the CrossFit world I follow, videos of women well into their second or third trimesters doing workouts at a 9/10 intensity with little to no scaling or modifications. We've hit another extreme. Swing, pendulum, swing!
The message this gives off: We care about you, too, moms-to-be. But we still have impossibly high expectations of you while you're pregnant. Be fit. Be strong. Be amazing. Be invincible. Be superwoman.
You know what a pregnant woman wants when she goes to the gym? To be spoken to like she's NOT just a vessel for another human to rent out for 40 weeks.
When's the last time you told someone at the gym how big or small they look?
When's the last time you reached out and touched someone at the gym's belly, without permission, and made a comment it as you touched it?
While you get asked about 500 times during pregnancy, "how are you feeling?" I would actually much prefer to hear this over and over. Because at least it asks how I'm doing, and gives me the opportunity to answer for myself, as a whole person, not just a body that happens to be growing an incredible little human being.
The focus goes from fit pregnancy, to bouncing back. Getting in your old jeans. Shedding the baby weight. Barf. I am so sick of these phrases.
What, instead, could be helpful for a new mom?
Do you have resources for BOTH breastfeeding and bottle feeding?
Who can help you have some time to yourself when baby is born, so you can sleep, nap, or take a bath?
How do you feel about your transition from career life to mom life?
Do you have someone who you feel comfortable talking to when things get tough (because they will)?
Do you have some numbers on hand to reach out to for depression, anxiety, PTSD, or couples therapy?
What do YOU need from me?
And moms-to-be, what do you need from yourself?
Grace, to know you're going to have bad days, but that doesn't make you a bad person, nor a bad mom.
Patience, to know that you are going to heal, and that you are going to make it through.
Confidence, to say no, and to ask for what YOU need.
Permission to ease off, of the gym, of work, of life's tasks. Permission to do LESS, and not be invincible.
Acceptance, that some things won't be the same. But also Faith, that some of those things will be even better than before.
Courage, to speak up about the hard things, and to take action even when fear is telling you not to.
Resiliency, to forge your own path - the one that has your best interest at heart. Not what society wants of you, not what medical staff want of you, friends, family, social media - the list goes on.
I am not immune to the body talk surrounding motherhood. I know it's not easy to shift your thinking. But, together we can interject in the conversations that revolve solely on aesthetics. We can speak up when someone fails to understand there is SO much more important things to talk about than how our physical body has changed.
I thought I wanted a fit pregnancy, but what I really needed, was a supported pregnancy. Someone to say, it’s okay to ease off. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel lost. You are not defined solely on what your body can or cannot do.
I'm curious - what did you think you wanted in pregnancy, and what did it turn out to be that you actually needed in retrospect? Comment with yours below:)