Pregnancy and exercise - does society judge?

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26/09/2012 at 11:29

I was wondering - does society (friends, family, strangers, etc.) make it difficult for a pregnant woman to exercise without feeling judged for doing so?

I never see pregnant women (at least those with a visible bump ) at the gym I go to. Occasionally in the pool, but not often. And the general consensus I've heard from pregnant women is that if they do engage in some sort of physical activity, they're warned off doing so because they're putting their pregnancy at risk. Which may be true for some forms of exercise, but not most. There still seems to be a popular belief that exercising whilst pregnant is in some way dangerous and selfish, and that women should be 'resting'.

Any thoughts/experiences?

26/09/2012 at 11:35
Who cares what society thinks ?
26/09/2012 at 11:35

When expecting my third child (22 years ago mind!), I was already going to the gym 2-3 times a week, and continued to do so until about 7 months (until it became uncomfortable). there were some raised eybrows but no complaints, and as it was a mainly mens free weights type gym, i guess they figured i knew best!
i think the general 'rule' is, if you are already doing an exercise then its ok to carry on, but dont start anything new if you are pregnant.
Princess Ann carried on riding horses until she was quite large i seem to remember!

26/09/2012 at 11:41

The only time I can remember "judging" a pregnant woman was when I saw someone smoking. 

I would simply assume that any exercise was being taken after seeking medical advice and therefore assume it's a good thing.  Maybe different if it's a potentially dangerous activity.  (Horse riding??  That's not very clever is it?)

26/09/2012 at 11:47

My gym runs a couple of pre-and post natal yoga and Pilates classes, so it's not surprising to see pregnant women exercising both in the studio and in the rest of the gym; but a couple of runner friends who have had babies in the last 1-2 years have told me about the dirty looks and critical comments from other people when they were out running while pregnant.

I think that society in general is critical of the mother doing something that society perceives as being dangerous to the baby, but conversely there is a lot of pressure to lose weight and get back in shape post-baby that can be more damaging to the mother's health. Rushing back to kettlebell classes within 6 weeks of giving birth? Imagine what that is doing to their back, hips and pelvis!

 

Also think that some places (like my gym!) have identified pre and post natal exercise as a massive money-making idea, and so you will start to see more and more of them springing up!

26/09/2012 at 11:49
PhilPub wrote (see)

The only time I can remember "judging" a pregnant woman was when I saw someone smoking. 

I would simply assume that any exercise was being taken after seeking medical advice and therefore assume it's a good thing.  Maybe different if it's a potentially dangerous activity.  (Horse riding??  That's not very clever is it?)

I read an article (possibly in RW a few months back?) about a pregnant runner being told off about endangering her baby's health .....  by another pregnant woman who was smoking!

26/09/2012 at 12:07

Yes - definitely and normally it's not just by 'society' but mostly by friends and family. I've already been told: "you wont be able to continue this running milarky if you ever get up the duff you know".

A friend of mine exercised (gentle gym classes, cardio) until 7 1/2 months and felt absolutely great. She only stopped because of the dirty looks she got by people at her local gym.

26/09/2012 at 12:09

There was a pregnant woman at the marathon I did, I was pretty impressed that she finished. She took it slowly so I don't think there would be any significant risk. Also, I don't think you can expect anyone to put their whole life on hold for 9 months.

There were a couple of posts on The Guardian Bike Blog a while ago about cycling while pregnant, might be of interest.

26/09/2012 at 12:52

My wife is pregnant at the moment. Funnily enough, she is due in a few days. Certain exercises are surely superb for pregnant ladies, walking, swimming, tai chi, light weight training, certain core exercises etc. Giving birth is no joke and anything that improves a mother's fitness with no detriment to the baby is surely a great thing.

I'm just not convinced that running is the best exercise for those with mid to late pregnancies due to all the bouncing and jiggling about from the impact of landing up to 180 times each minute! I'd say that walking even at pace would be much better and safer for mother and baby.   

26/09/2012 at 12:55

I always felt a bit embarrased running when pregnant. Dont know why but i think its just peoples views on exercising when pregnant. i.e you'll harm the baby etc!

I still went to the gym and swam in my first pregnancy and i did get a few looks but know one ever said anything to me. In my third pregnanacy i ran up until about 25 wks and cycled till the day my daughter was born! Where i live everyone was used to me exercising so didnt really bat an eyelid to see me cycling at 9 months pregnant! Although i did have to sit up tall on my MTB as it was rather uncomfortable by then and it was only a few miles along the road and back at most1

26/09/2012 at 13:07

Maybe women who don't want to get glared at for excercising while pregnant should get t-shirts which say "I'm not pregnant, I'm fat"

26/09/2012 at 13:21

There are a couple of issues with exercising whilst pregnant

1) Your ligaments are that much more stretchy in preparation for the birth so you can be more prone to injury

2) You tend to weigh more with all the extra issues that can bring

3) Exercising raises temperature which can be an issue in pregnancy

That sounds like I am anti exercise in pregnancy which I am not I just think it needs to be thought through. However like PhilPub that anyone pregnant exercising had done that.

With my first child I exercised (not running) until too uncomfortable about 7 months. Sadly though it didn't help as they said that my strong stomach muscles actually caused issues with the birth!

With my second I didn't exercise as much due to problems with SPD (was on crutches for last 3 months of pregnancy) however I still did Aquanatal (was bliss with my SPD!) until my waters broke!

C

26/09/2012 at 13:22

just lie around and eat cake.

seren nos yn canu    pirate
26/09/2012 at 13:28
Jamie Newton 2 wrote (see)

My wife is pregnant at the moment. Funnily enough, she is due in a few days. Certain exercises are surely superb for pregnant ladies, walking, swimming, tai chi, light weight training, certain core exercises etc. Giving birth is no joke and anything that improves a mother's fitness with no detriment to the baby is surely a great thing.

I'm just not convinced that running is the best exercise for those with mid to late pregnancies due to all the bouncing and jiggling about from the impact of landing up to 180 times each minute! I'd say that walking even at pace would be much better and safer for mother and baby.   

So have you adjusted your sex life to a slower pace so that there is no jigging around or impact.....

I think the advice that if you have a healthy normal pregnancy then its safe to carry on doing the exercise that you were previously doing .......but don't start trying out new exercises........

 

26/09/2012 at 13:36

+1 for what SN said.  My IVF consultant said exactly that, he positively encouraged to continue to exercise throughout, so I did   Can't say anyone really said much as I waddled along.   My Dr said don't take up anything new.

26/09/2012 at 14:22
seren nos wrote (see)
Jamie Newton 2 wrote (see)

I'm just not convinced that running is the best exercise for those with mid to late pregnancies due to all the bouncing and jiggling about from the impact of landing up to 180 times each minute! I'd say that walking even at pace would be much better and safer for mother and baby.   

So have you adjusted your sex life to a slower pace so that there is no jigging around or impact.....

 

I think 180 'impacts' a minute is pretty hard to achieve - even for a very fit male runner

Which reminds me of the joke question: "Do you smoke after sex?"

Answer: "I try not to go that fast"

Thank you very much.  Back to what the OP raised, I can't speak for society but for myself, I think pregnant Mum's can benefit a lot from exercise, physically and mentally, but it has to be in keeping with the capabilities they already have. For example, gentle running could help reduce swelling in joints...

26/09/2012 at 14:48

Interesting replies!

The reason I ask is that I'm currently working in research in the area of maternal obesity, and the issue of exercising in pregnancy is of particular interest to me.

On the whole, exercising whilst pregnant is safe. Yes, there are extra considerations to make, and as the pregnancy progresses it certainly may become more difficult/uncomfortable to exercise, but there are so many benefits from doing so that it's well worth the effort.

But a lot of women find that people chastise them for being active. They should put their feet up and eat for two - both real issues where gestational weight gain and pregnancy outcomes are concerned, but that seems to be how the majority see it.

I think it must be quite difficult to make the decision to be active, and stick with it, when people are telling you otherwise.

Wilkie wrote (see)

Maybe women who don't want to get glared at for excercising while pregnant should get t-shirts which say "I'm not pregnant, I'm fat"

26/09/2012 at 14:51
Tricky Dicky¹ wrote (see)
 I think pregnant Mum's can benefit a lot from exercise,

what about those who are pregnant for the first time?

26/09/2012 at 15:52

Would people say it is okay to run half a marathon whilst being in the early stages of pregnancy? I have been running for 3 years now and running my first marathon next week.

I want to apply for a half marathon with my dad next year but will be trying for my second baby at the end of this year.

26/09/2012 at 16:03
Ruth Thomas 10 wrote (see)

Would people say it is okay to run half a marathon whilst being in the early stages of pregnancy? I have been running for 3 years now and running my first marathon next week.

I want to apply for a half marathon with my dad next year but will be trying for my second baby at the end of this year.

I would cross that bridge when you came to it. There is no point putting something on hold in case you get pregnant. It may take sometime it may be instant you don't know.

Although when there was a  possibility I was pregnant with my 3rd a couple of weeks back my GP said there shouldn't be a problem running my first HM when I would have been about 8 weeks pregnant.

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