Fit Pregnancy Interview Series Part 7
Sandy showing off her strong mama arms :)
This next interview is with my very good friend, here in CT, Sandra (Sandy) Blafkin Caldwell.
Sandy and I actually worked out together for most of our pregnancies. We were those two bellies in the gym that were deadlifting, bench pressing and squatting... sometimes more than the guys were lifting. :)
We were two weeks apart in our due date and first became friends when we found out we were pregnant at the same time. And, it turned into a beautiful friendship (we're both in love with lifting weights and being strong, and we're a bit nutty too).
Before that we only knew each other from seeing one another lifting heavy in the gym. I even recall one day us commenting to each other about how more women should lift like we did (heavy and hard). Sandy even competed in figure competitions and did very well.
Sandy and I did spin class together, lifted together, walked together and did bootcamp together while watching our bellies grow. We had the pleasure of complaining to each other about our aches and pains, but then also shared our joy of exercise and taking care of our bodies while building strong babies.
Sandy's son Stephen is now 9 months old and is a healthy, happy, strong little man. Sandy and I joke that April (my daughter) and her son are going to be prom dates... I guess we'll see what the next 17 years will bring. :)
On to the interview!
Sandy, this interview is for you to share your fit pregnancy experience with other women. Unfortunately so many women are scared to exercise while pregnant for fear it is harmful for their unborn babies. How do you feel about this now that you’ve had your own fit pregnancy?
Now that I have had my own fit pregnancy, I feel that exercise during pregnancy can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your unborn baby. That is assuming you are active prior to being pregnant and that you have an uneventful pregnancy.
How hard were you exercising before you became pregnant? What were you doing?
I was exercising with moderate to heavy intensity. I was lifting weights at least 4 times per week. I trained specific body parts with supersets, giant sets, and circuit training. In addition, I usually performed cardio at least 4-5 times per week. This usually consisted of the elliptical machine, spinning, walk/sprint intervals, jogging, and/or walking at a 5-10 % incline on the treadmill.
When you found out your were pregnant, did you modify your workout routine? How & Why?
When I found out I was pregnant I did not modify my workout routine right away. I did quickly find out that my stamina was severely affected by the onset of pregnancy thus I was not able to jog for any significant distance and a lot of my plyometric exercises suffered. On many mornings I did not have the energy to do a complete cardio workout so I would settle for a walk on the treadmill at a 3-5% incline.
When you first found out you were pregnant what was your primary concern with respect to your exercise routine?
I just wanted to check with the doc tor to confirm that as long as I was doing it before being pregnant that it was ok to continue to exercise with significant exercise. My OB was very supportive with regards to continued exercise.
Overall, during your pregnancy, describe what did you do for exercise?
Overall during my pregnancy I continued a weight training routine very similar to what I did prior to being pregnant. I did cut back on the intense cardio and stuck to walking and the elliptical. That being said, I did continue to spin up until about 6 months at which time I could no longer make it through 10 minutes without feeling the need to urinate. In addition to my pre-pregnancy exercises, I added in Boot Camp classes with Cassandra and a lot more core strength exercises.
How did other people around you react to your fit pregnancy? Was it positive or negative?
Most people reacted extremely positive!! People were quick to come up and tell me how great it was that I was continuing to exercise as my Belly grew and grew. I can’t remember any truly negative reactions. Perhaps every now and then… a “be careful” and “is your doctor ok with you working out so hard?”, but that was about it. I think more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
What was the most supportive thing someone told you about your fit pregnancy? The most unsupportive?
The most supportive thing someone told me was that having such a fit pregnancy would allow me to have an easier labor, have a healthier baby, and to get back into pre-pregnancy shape with minimal effort.
How was your first trimester, with respect to exercise?
The first trimester was a little difficult because I was extremely tired and weak in the mornings and I had NO stamina.
The second trimester I was no longer as tired and weak in the mornings but I still had limited stamina and my back did act up every now and again. Thus I had GREAT lifts and tried more and more exercises to strengthen my core.
My third trimester was similar my second trimester. Cassandra and I were doing plank holds on the Swiss ball and bench pressing with no problem!! I felt really good and I found that when I did a good heavy leg workout the swelling of the muscle bellies for some reason actually minimized the discomfort I was experiencing in my back. ;))
How did you know what you were doing for exercise during your pregnancy was ok/safe? Did you ever doubt your decisions? Were you worried during your pregnancy that you were exercising too hard?
For the most part I felt that my body would tell me if I was exercising too hard. If I was pushing myself too hard, I would feel lethargic and unable to perform properly. Thus, I would stop, call it day, and go home to eat and rest. The only time I questioned my decision was when I chose to walk a half marathon for the first time while being 4 months pregnant. I was counting the days until my next appointment after that one. Thankfully everything was more than fine. ;))
During your pregnancy, did you have any complications such as hypertension or extreme water retention? Please describe why/why not?
I did not experience hypertension or extreme water retention. I would imagine that eating healthy and exercising throughout helped keep it that way. At times I did experience moderate swelling in my feet and ankles. I attribute this to the amount of time I spent in my car for work driving back and forth to NY, NJ, etc from CT. My feet and ankles always seemed more swollen if I had been driving a lot and had not had the time to get in my exercise.
If you could do things differently for your fit pregnancy, what would that be?
I would do nothing different, except maybe looking into colon cleansing during my next pregnancy, because I was really constipated much of my pregnancy.
How much total weight did you gain during your pregnancy?
In total I gained about 20-25 lbs.
Did you get any stretch marks? If you didn’t, why do you think this happened? If you did, do you think they could have been prevented? Do you think creams or oils prevent them?
THANKFULLY, I did not get any stretch marks. I hear that this is strongly linked to genetics. My mother did not get stretch marks with either of her two pregnancies. Despite this, I did take some extra measures and used Mama Mio’s Tummy Rub oil morning and night from about 5 months on.
How was your labor and delivery? -- Natural or Assisted? – Long or short?
Unfortunately, my labor and delivery story is not as uplifting as the rest of my pregnancy. My water broke expectedly on my due date but I did not go into labor. The next morning I went to the hospital, I still had not dilated and was barely thinned. They started me on Pitocin. After 5 hours, I was still at zero ….UGGHHHH !!!!!!!! After 5 more hours and maybe 2 -3 cm, I finally got an epidural. With the epidural I got 5 cm but then stalled and the baby’s heart rate was starting to drop. Since my water had been broken for over 24 hours and he was starting to get distressed with no obvious signs that I was ever going to start dilating again we opted for a C-section. I was a little disappointed because I had envisioned things so very different, but in the end he was born healthy and we were all so HAPPY!!
What was the weight/height of baby? APGAR scores?
Our baby boy Stephen was born 7lbs 12.4 oz. I don’t know his exact APGAR scores because he was spot on! He pinked up right away and reflex’s, etc. were superb.
How is the health of your baby now?
From day one Stephen has been a great baby. He is has a truly sweet, laid back demeanor, yet he still has a side that is truly all boy.
He sleeps well and he almost always an extremely happy baby. In the past 8+ months he has remained pretty healthy. He had one head cold and is currently getting over a stomach bug.
We have been so blessed by our little miracle that I hope maintaining a fit pregnancy for any future pregnancies will yield yet another wonderful baby versus the little devil that everyone swears we are in for on the next go round.
How much of your weight gain have you lost since having your baby? How long did it take?
I have lost all of the weight since having my baby. I think I’m actually down 4 lbs from my start weight. It barely took 2 months to loose the majority of the weight but the last 10 lbs probably came off by the 6 or 7th month.
How do you feel about your body now?
I feel pretty good. Ultimately things are not quite back to where they were pre-pregnancy and I have lost some muscle due the lack of time I have had in the gym since going back to work. We are always our own worst critics and I would be happy to tighten up some more but I am on the right track.
What advice would you give other women who want to have a fit pregnancy?
As long as you are having a normal, non-complicated pregnancy, work out like you did prior to your pregnancy paying close attention to your body’s cues. You will be surprised how much this will help you during and after your pregnancy.
I truly believe that my level of continued fitness helped me to rapidly recover from my C-section. Less than 13 hours after the surgery, I was up walking around and socializing with my friends and family. I experienced some incision pain but other than that I was relatively un-phased. Once my 6 weeks were up and the doctor gave me the OK, I was back doing abs and Boot Camp Classes with Cassandra.
Thank you for your time!