38 Weeks Pregnant Update

It’s Tuesday and it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted. And oh what a two weeks it’s been! I officially started maternity leave, leaving my post at the gym and literally the next day I started having contractions. From 15 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.. I called my doctor’s office and they suggested we have child care come over. So, I called my mom and got my hubby home from work. Yet, here we are, two weeks later and wait–no baby? That’s right. Not yet! So what happened?

It turns out, this mommy is having loads of fun experiencing this thing called prodromal labor. Prodromal labor is a super fun experience kind of like false labor (sense the sarcasm?). Except prodromal isn’t false labor because contractions feel real, last 60 to 90 seconds, and they consistently get closer and closer together. And then they just stop. In false labor, you get these shorter contractions maybe 15, 7, 5, 20, 2, etc. minutes apart. There’s no rhyme or reason to their pattern. I experienced that with Isla and while uncomfortable, I knew it wasn’t real. This is harder to distingush.

Not only can prodromal labor be phyisically exhausting (the uterus is a muscle and mine is sore after hours of contractions), but it’s emotionally exhausting. I get so excited that it might be time, and then when they just stop I feel pretty let down. It’s also hard because I don’t know if I’m going to know when I’m really in labor. At this point, I’m pretty used to just feeling contractions every day. If you’ve gone through this, feel free to reassure me I’ll know the difference!

I’ve read about what causes it, and basically they don’t know. They said if your baby is facing the wrong way in your pelvis, that can cause it. But they confirmed our baby is not. So, I’m not really looking for a reason any more. Instead, I’m just living life day to day and trying my best to be patient. Not my best virtue. Haha.

Continuing along the timeline, after the first day of labor pains, I then came down with a horrible sinus infection. And then the real icing on the cake (because I’ll handle whatever I’m feeling), Isla came down with a stomach bug that lasted four days! Happy maternity leave mommy!

No, but seriously. I felt so bad for our poor girl. She was such a trooper and thankfully I’m happy to report she’s feeling much better. But boy, was momma tired last week! I wasn’t feeling like nesting for once, but I was forced to do just that. I disinfected our house and washed endless amounts of laundry for five days straight. That was basically my exercise last week, though I did do a couple 20 minute workouts during naptime and before lunch. I just needed to make sure my muscles were feeling as balanced as possible. Funny thing, pregnancy can totally mess with your body’s alignment! So, exercise helps me keep the right muscles engaged and feeling strong.

By this past weekend, we were all feeling better (or had stayed healthy) and with some awesome weather–albeit hot–in New England, we headed out for an early morning hike on Saturday. This baby is super low, as they keep reminding me at my weekly check ups, and I was hoping we could just keep working it down with a short hike. We set out for 1.25 miles on a relatively flat trail, and after taking a wrong turn, ended up completing about 2.5 miles of elevation. A part of me can’t believe I’m so proud of those 2.5 miles, but I am. I celebrated being 38 weeks pregnant with a hike I know I couldn’t have done at the end of my last pregnancy and that is AWESOME! Bottom line–we are often so much stronger than we think! And that is just the reminder this mom needed before heading into labor.

38-weeks-pregnant-hike.jpeg

Other pregnancy related updates:

With just a couple weeks to go, I have still only gained about 26 pounds. I haven’t gained more than about a pound in the last 6+ weeks. And for the first time ever, they started telling me my belly is measuring small. This initially made me very nervous. However, I’m again having faith and trusting my doctors and midwives.

Two professionals have now assured me that since Isla was breech and this baby is not, that my belly was going to look and measure very differently this time. Last week they also said my belly will measure differently when the baby is as low as ours is. Finally, they reassured me they are not worried about my weight. No matter, I’ve been trying to pack in some extra food this week. I want to make sure I’m taking care of this baby to the best of my ability, but am also trying to listen to my body. Like last time, I eat when I’m hungry, and I’m certainly not eating 100 percent healthy. Last week I kept joking I was eating my feelings. I ate ice cream, donuts, a box of mac and cheese, and a bagel (or two). But honestly, after just devouring a salad for dinner tonight (with a burger on top!), that’s definitely more my speed this pregnancy. It’s so funny how pregnancy cravings can be different!

What have you been up to in the last couple weeks? How have you been staying active? Help me pass some time in the comments below. 

Peek-a-Boo Obliques (At 9 Months Pregnant)

Today’s post is about side planks, one of my favorite exercises. I love side planks. My clients generally grumble when I have them do side planks, which I’ve learned can only mean one thing. They’re great for you!

Side planks help me feel super strong. You’re working the arm and shoulder and all of your stomach muscles. And I won’t lie (though maybe I should), from a vanity standpoint, I love that side planks help me keep a visual of my obliques throughout pregnancy. 9 months pregnant, 25 pounds up, and sporting some peek-a-boo abs? Oh yeah! I have worked so hard for that and I think it’s fair to be proud. You definitely can’t see a six pack (I have a short torso and my baby bellies grow!), but a little side ab on mama’s ever-expanding belly? I’ll take it, haha. No, but seriously. It’s nice to just see a bit of my old self in my rapidly transforming body. (Left my belly is relaxed. Right, my belly is flexed. Disclaimer: this is after breakfast, lunch, and a giant snack of way too many maple sweetened peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.)

And doubly seriously: side planks are really an excellent ab exercise. I don’t just have my clients do them to torture them. Like a regular plank, side planks require engagement of all layers of the abdominal muscles: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and the obliques. These muscles wrap together like a corset. They also work to pull your core in tight (bracing). And they keep your body elevated.

The biggest mistake I’ve encountered with this exercise is clients will shut down their abs and instead use their hips to hold themselves up. Let’s be clear. You should feel this exercise in the bottom side of your stomach–the side closest to the floor. If you are feeling this in your lower hip, make a change. Lift your hip a little higher and squeeze your abs a little harder. If you still feel it in your hip, modify the exercise by dropping down to your bottom knee.

Today I’m showing three different types of side planks. Yes, these are pregnancy approved. But these are for everybody! I promise, this blog isn’t just for the pregnant ladies. Boys–get off your butt and try these. Your belly will thank me!

  1. Side Plank Hip Taps
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Lift your body using the underside of your abs (the side closest to the floor).
    3. Place your hand on your top hip (or on the floor as a modification for added assistance).
    4. Drop your bottom hip to tap the floor.
    5. Lift the bottom hip again hip until your body is parallel with the floor. 
    6. Repeat.
    7. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

  1. Side Plank with Weighted Arm Extension
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Hold a dumbbell in your top hand.
    3. Drop dumbbell under lower obliques.
    4. Lift the dumbbell until your top arm is straight.
    5. Repeat.
    6. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

  1. “Thread the Needle” Side Plank
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Lift your hip until your body is parallel to the ground. Place your top hand on your top hip, or on the floor for added support.
    3. Drop your top hand to tap the ground OR literally “thread the needle,” wrapping your arm under your lower obliques. (If you’re pregnant, opt for the tap vs. the wrap. You don’t want to twist your obliques too much while pregnant.)
    4. Raise your top arm to the starting position.
    5. Repeat.
    6. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

To check out some videos and see these exercises in action, visit my Instagram account.

What’s your favorite ab exercise? Share in the comments below. 

Transformation Tuesday (32 Weeks Pregnant)

Being pregnant, I can’t help but reflect on my body and everything that’s transforming, inside and out! Some days I feel like a serious superwoman, toting my mini toddler and tackling every task the day throws at me–all while growing another person! Then other days (like today), I am literally waddling from place to place and relying on nap time for recovery. My pelvis aches and everything feels challenging.

On days like this, I’m grateful I have more good days than “bad” and that I’m even pregnant at all. Coming from years of infertility and multiple losses, I keep my chin up and try to smile as much as I can. Truthfully, most days are easier than not. This isn’t my permanent state. As I wind down through the last weeks of this pregnancy, I know my normal body should be back soon! Hallelujah! So in between moments of just wanting to be done, I’m also trying to enjoy feeling this little person grow. For the gift of being able to carry this baby in my body, and help it thrive–despite the wear and tear my body endures.

Thinking about being pregnant with Isla, and this time, I try not to compare the two. But that can be pretty hard. My pregnancy with Isla is still so fresh in my mind. And Isla and “new baby” are already both so different. How they move is different, how they lay in my belly is different, and I look different. This baby is much lower in my belly. I know–the wives tales say this must be a boy then! Who knows, though soon enough we’ll see.

Another way that I find myself comparing these two pregnancies is weight gain. While I don’t want to find myself perseverating on a number, loving or hating a scale, I try hard to keep my weight gain in a healthy range and so I stay aware of my number. This time around, I think I’m eating healthier overall, but I’m convinced my body is just going to do it’s thing–no matter what I shovel in my mouth. I gained about 35 pounds when I was pregnant with Isla, and I ate a lot of ice cream! At 32 weeks pregnant, I’ve gained about 25 so far. I’m on track to gain 35 again, even with a lot less ice cream trips (I love ice cream–I’m not giving it up).

Here I am, 6 months postpartum (and unknowingly 4 weeks pregnant–eek). And today, 32 weeks pregnant.

Looking back at myself 6 months postpartum my first thought is: I’m too hard on myself. My abs were coming back and even if they weren’t, I was working so hard! While I feel chunky as a 32 weeks pregnant woman, I also look at myself and feel strong.

I look forward to my postpartum journey this time. For once I seriously don’t care about the scale. A pound of fat is much larger than a pound of muscle and I love when I look lean and strong. I can be lean and weigh more than I did when I started this pregnancy. I honestly hope that’s what happens too. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the scale says. My weight is much less significant than how I feel. I can’t wait to see how my composition has changed throughout pregnancy and how my progress can continue postpartum. That’s the journey I look forward to. How much muscle am I building in these 40 weeks? With Isla I gained about 5 pounds of muscle. How much can I maintain? Postpartum last year, I struggled with that. I needed to eat more than I thought (working out and breastfeeding require a lot more calories than we sometimes think).

These side by side photos and the thoughts they evoke help me realize this baby hasn’t been the only thing growing in the last 8 months. My mind and body have been too, and in the best ways. I am healthy, strong, more confident, and open to embracing everything the next several months has in store. Bring it on!

How have you transformed this year? Share in the comments below! 

Cardio Upgrade: Don’t Just Walk, Strength Train Too!

Today’s post is all about a quick workout I put together to do on a family walk, run or hike, turning a bonafide cardio workout into an opportunity to strength train. My favorite! We completed this workout on our local bike path, but you can do this workout anywhere and with or without the walk.

Staying active as a family is important to me. I think it’s important we’re healthy parents for our kids. I want to do everything I can to stick around for as long as I can. I tell Chris that when we are grandparents, I hope we can be out hiking with our grandkids. And that vision starts now; with lots of training while we’re parents!

I also love that we are setting an example for our children every time they see us working out–and that Isla is already creating this habit of being active. Isla is one of those babies who rarely sits still (just like her mama). She is always busy and into something. She wanted to skip crawling and hop to walking, and though that didn’t happen, she is now walking and trying to run away from us (and into trouble) as fast as she can. This new growing baby is getting a head start too. When mom’s active, baby is active! No wonder this kid is trying to bust open my belly with some serious ninja kicks and jabs.

As an added bonus, I love being an active woman. I love that I’m showing my daughter that she can be active, through every stage of her life, including pregnancy if she chooses to have a family. I feel strongly that Isla is as healthy as she is because I made the choice to stay active and healthy during my pregnancy. I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to make this choice too, but the human body (and in particular here, female body) is pretty amazing. Clearly Isla’s not taking all of these intricacies in right now, but these are the lessons I look forward to teaching her in the years ahead as she’ll be able to look back on photos and videos.

So, the workout. I’ll preface this by saying: clearly, I’m pregnant. Like really pregnant. 31 weeks pregnant actually. I have been exercising before and throughout this entire pregnancy. That being said, if you’re pregnant and just starting exercise, I wouldn’t recommend you start with all of these exercises. Particularly those where you’d find yourself in a plank position. Like the push ups and plank arm pulls. If you include them, here are some tips.

If you are pregnant and doing the plank-based exercises, consider starting from your knees and always make sure you’re wrapping your abs together! Our abdominal wall naturally separates when we’re pregnant and this prone position puts extra pressure on our abs. Do your part to hold them together by squeezing your abs together, like you’re wearing a corset. If you see your belly “pointing” out, stop the exercise. That’s literally your belly muscles split apart. If you take a peek at your belly, it should still be rounded. This is something I actually couldn’t do when I was pregnant with Isla and I’m proud to say I’ve built even better function of my abdominal muscles between these two pregnancies and can keep my belly round this time–even after a c-section. Just do what is right for you and your baby and do what you can. If these two exercises aren’t possible, lots of others are–I promise!

For the general population, all of these exercises are a fun way to mix up your workout routine or intensify a walk or hike. I used a jogging stroller for a couple exercises, but you could easily just use hand and foot reach/taps instead.

As far as putting all of the exercises together, here are a couple ways to structure this workout:

Option 1:

  1. Walk for 2 minutes
  2. Complete 15 reps of one exercise
  3. Walk for another 2 minutes
  4. Complete 15 reps of another exercise
  5. Repeat

Option 2:

  1. Walk for 5-10 minutes
  2. Complete 15 reps of all exercises in a circuit
  3. Repeat

I would do 2-4 sets of each exercise depending on how much time I have. If you can’t do 2-4 sets, just do what you can. Something is better than nothing!

Walk/Hike Full Body Strength Circuit

  1. Squat (15 reps)squat.jpg2. Lunges (15 reps each side)lunge3. Side lunges (15 reps each side) – without a stroller, just reach and tap your foot to the sideside lunge4. Push ups (15 reps)push up5. Single arm plank pulls (15 reps each side) – without a stroller, just reach and tap your hand to the frontarm pull stroller

What is one of your favorite ways to mix up your walk or workout? Share in the comments!