Throwing it back to spring 2014, I was in the best shape of my life. I was a healthy weight, on top of my nutrition, working full time as a personal trainer, instructing fitness class and training for my sport in powerlifting. Then, I moved- and the transition made it difficult for me to notice the main reason why my performance was starting to decline… I was pregnant!
Since I had no clue of this for the first 6 weeks, I continued with my enduring schedule. And it wasn’t until the 5th week when I felt weak, slept an entire day away and didn’t want my favourite thing in the world, coffee. Something was up.
Since I had moved, I hadn’t begun work in the fitness industry as of yet, so it worked out that I was no longer in the gym 24/7 or instructing classes to make a living; I opted for a management job at Sportchek.
I would consider myself lucky during pregnancy, and being fit probably had a lot to do with it. I did not have any morning sickness, acid reflux, back pain or anything else that made it a bad experience. The only thing I struggled with was boredom! My fitness during pregnancy was like this: In the first trimester, I continued my lifting program, only lowering the intensity. In the 2nd, I was getting bigger and tired and only lifted 1-2 days/week. In the 3rd I regained my energy, and would squat and sumo deadlift once a week. On top of that, my job required me to be on my feet for 8 hours and to lift boxes, all which I never had any issues keeping up with.
Looking forward to my delivery, I figured that because I was fit and because my mother and sister had simple childbirths I would be good to go. Wrong.
And now for my birth story. My due date was December 26th, and my early labor started Christmas Day at 4:00am. Active labor begun around 9:00am and that’s when we packed up and headed to the hospital. After being looked at, I was sent home to labor as I was only 2-3cm dilated! I was offered some morphine to take the edge off, but no way, I was going to do this naturally… And so, after 2 hours at home it was time to go back.
A first time mother can expect her active labor phase, the part of labor that opens her cervix from 4 cm to 10 cm dilation, to last from 12 to 24 hours. If labor is shorter, great. It was not helpful to assume labor would be short because my mother’s labor was short or because I was ‘in shape’. So from 11:00am to 4:00pm I laboured all natty, but still after all this time I was discouraged to find that I was only 4cm. Oh and my water broke at 3:00pm.
I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Whatever it took to move along was all of a sudden fine by me. I tried the laughing gas (stupid), took a shot of morpheme (waste of time), and finally cried for an epidural! Life was good after that. This enabled me to relax what do you know, I was finally dialating. I started pushing at 10:30pm, we thought for sure he would be here on Christmas! At 11:30 my contractions stopped for 30 minutes and I didn’t push again until Boxing Day. And so, at 12:17am I gave birth to a beautiful 7 pound, 20 inch long baby boy. And guess what. Everything that could suck about pushing a baby out down there, did. I got myself some lovely hemroids, a second degree tear and a fractured tailbone.
Labor can be longer than expected for many reasons, I came to realize that mine was because my baby was large for my pelvis, and no matter how fit I was- there was nothing I could do to change my physiology! Becoming and keeping fit for pregnancy can make it more comfortable, and, will help in “bouncing back” after delivery. Child birth on the other hand, well, there arn’t enough pelvic floor exercises to help you there. I just suggest going in with an open mind. Know that if your birth plan didn’t work out, you are not a failure. I took the drugs and still 3 weeks later can’t sit down; but I’d do it again tomorrow because being a mom is pretty darn cool.