Around six months ago I learnt the delightful news that Zoe, a friend from the Glossopdale Harriers running club, was expecting her first baby. As we chatted I could tell she was 100% committed to keeping herself active and healthy throughout her pregnancy. She made the decision to be proactive in her approach to pregnancy fitness, and to be honest, I wouldn’t expect anything less from her. I was delighted to have her on board for Pregnancy Fitness.
Zoe is a regular runner both socially and competitively, and was up for trying anything that would make pregnancy more comfortable and the birth as easy as it could be. The main aim of our training was initially to introduce some weights for lifting – building strength in a controlled manner, and importantly, in a way that would mimic the daily activities a pregnant woman would need during pregnancy and for the upcoming demands of motherhood.
Training involved plenty of squatting, lunges and deadlifts – all movements that mimic motherhood movement patterns. We worked on ensuring pelvic floor exercises were carried out in a functional way – fully integrated into movements – and progressive rather than just doing outdated kegels. This really solidified Zoe’s connection with her core as the weeks progressed. Other exercises were mixed in to improve upper body strength along with releases to ensure good mobility was maintained. One of the releases we do has forever been renamed (thanks Zoe) to ‘Putting the buns in the oven’, as pictured above.
“What I enjoyed during my pregnancy training was keeping moving and working hard in new ways but within my limits. Most of all I made sure to keep on enjoying being outdoors, whatever that meant.” Zoe
As pregnancy progresses extra body weight is inevitably gained. We therefore hardly increased the weights lifted, and kept the repetitions and movements always within Zoe’s comfortable range of movement. Training during pregnancy is always lead by the client – what is sensible for one might be too much for another, so there’s no prescriptive session plan I follow.
Throughout the training we’d been building strength and stamina in preparation for the birth, then in the later stages of pregnancy our time focused on preparing the pelvic region and solidifying mental strength for birth. Zoe is no stranger to endurance events (she ran the 65mile Lake District Bob Graham challenge in August 2015 in around 23hrs30mins) and although it would be lovely to think that labour could be easy and short, it is way better to be as prepared as possible for a long labour. Heck, the strength built would never go to waste once the baby arrives anyway! Since giving birth I have heard Zoe say several times that she is absolutely thankful for all the squatting and deadlifting she did.
Here’s Zoe about 2 weeks before Fox was born working her way through a deadlift session, complete with integrated core and pelvic floor training:
Focus now, in the postnatal period shifts to plenty of rest and selfcare as motherhood works itself into a routine and the body heals from the birth process. As with all postnatal clients, once we’ve the go ahead for exercise, we’ll be back in the gym restoring and healing. In the meantime, Zoe has benefited from a postnatal massage – perfect for combating the aches from breastfeeding.