Today is my due date but the bun seems quite content in the oven. No labor signs yet so I’m enjoying maternity leave and getting my preparations done, including working out. Since the baby could come at anytime within the next 2 weeks I’m in a bit of a holding pattern: I want to maintain my strength but without overexerting myself to avoid exhausting my resources before labor.
In order to better target my workouts for this special event I’ve shifted the focus to match the demands of the birthing experience. Let me explain.
After taking a comprehensive birthing class a month ago, in which the teacher explained the characteristics of each stage of labor, I got a much better sense of how the body gets stressed. Labor is a long event that can last hours (and hours, and hours) and the ability to endure discomfort (physically and mentally) seems to be a key component.
Initially contractions can be short and mild with several minutes of calm in between but will progress to longer and more intense with less recovery time. So, from a training standpoint, I look at the time spent in discomfort (i.e. 30-60 seconds) and practice holding postures for that duration while focusing on breathing in a regulated pattern.
I’m still lifting weights at the gym (where I can’t take photos, sadly) to maintain much of my strength. However, I’ve made some specific adjustments:
- Reduce the overall amount of weight that I’ve been lifting and lower the volume of sets
- Spend more time holding positions (isometrics)
- Incorporate deep squat postures and other gravity-friendly birthing positions to open up the pelvis
- Emphasize regulated breathing patterns, which helps to create an external focus of attention so that I can better endure the discomfort of long holds.
It’s also important to mention that a primary goal of exercise is usually to produce force to lift and move things, with the main focus on creating tension. However, labor requires some parts of the body to be in tension (especially during active pushing) while other parts need to relax. Being soft and relaxed are important so as not to burn the body’s resources too quickly and so that the baby can come out more easily. I’ve been trying to work on this balance as well.
Finally, tapering before a big event is crucial and I’m trying to stay “fresh” for labor day. However, the challenge in this case is that I don’t know definitively when that will be.
With this lingering uncertainty I am feeling physically and mentally confident because of my preparation. But I’m also very much aware that there is no way to plan for and know exactly how this will unfold. All I can do is try to remain calm and flexible, reduce tension when possible, and enjoy the ride of this new and exciting journey.
Thanks for your support and I’ll be back with news as soon as I get the hang of the whole mom thing.
Keep on Movin’