Fit Pregnancy Interview Series Part 1

Hello Readers!

I have a special interview series coming up all this week and much of next.

Since being pregnant myself, I've been getting oodles of email from women asking me if it's "OK" to exercise while pregnant.

And, if it is ok, how much is too much?

As many of you know, I exercised like a machine while I pregnant - I taught exercise bootcamp classes and worked my butt off all the way through. In fact, I deadlifted the day I went into labor!

But, since my word may not be enough, or all the research I've posted on this. So, what I've done, is gathered all my fit mamma friends and interviewed them about their fit pregnancy experiences.

Here, you'll see that I'm not the only crazy lady on the block, and that exercise while pregnant is AWESOME for both momma and child.

First up is my friend Sarah Craig (pictured above). Her and I met on Facebook while we were pregnant around the same time and both working out hard.

Sarah was also a machine while she was pregnant and had an amazing delivery and has an even more amazingly healthy child.

But, enough of what I have to say... On to the interview!!

PS - if you are also a fit mamma and would like to share your story with the world, shoot me an email.

ENJOY!

Fit Pregnancy Interview with Sarah Craig:

Sarah, 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?

- I couldn't disagree more on it being harmful. I had an intense labor, where once labor started I only had at max 3 minutes between contractions the whole time. The Dr.'s were very impressed at my babies heart rate through out the whole thing. Her heart was always steady and she didn't even seemed phased by the onslaught of labor. I kept laughing to my husband saying that "it's just another work out like any other for her". My working my heart out everyday gave her a strong heart and she was STRONG during birth. I could feel her squirming her way down my birth canal.

How hard were you exercising before you became pregnant? What were you doing?


-I worked out pretty hard everyday. I did work out videos (NONE were prenatal ones. Way to easy). I did lots of lifting, and lots of step aerobics. I also would do bootcamp intensity style work outs. Somedays I would run on the dreadmill too (I'm not much of a runner though). I thought I'd like things like yoga when pregnant, but I actually didn't because it was uncomfortable. I just tried really hard to listen to my body and do things that were comfortable. And by that, I mean they were painful in the normal work out kind of way. I started modifying any moves where you laid on your stomach by laying on a stability ball as I got larger. I also stopped being able to do pushups because of lack of core strength. I would simply do wall pushups or do dips instead as an example.

When you found out your were pregnant, did you modify your workout routine? How & Why?


- When I first found out I was pregnant I decided that my goal was to stay as fit and healthy as I could. Working out is always the number one thing recommended by doctors to stay healthy, so why should pregnancy be any different? I decided to just listen to my body, and start doing prenatal stuff when I got uncomfortable with my current work outs. I found though that I really didn't get uncomfortable or need to make them easier. It was so hard to stay committed during my first trimester. I was so tired. I had no morning sickness AT ALL (which I personally attribute to working out). But I would force my self in my tiredness to do it anyways, and I was always glad I did because it made me feel human again!

 

When you first found out you were pregnant what was your primary concern with respect to your exercise routine?


- I was concerned like every other women that "it would hurt the baby". But I researched and read up as much as I could on the topic, and found that it simply wasn't true. All the evidence pointed to the fact that it made you, your baby and your birth all better.

During your pregnancy, describe what you did for exercise

I would do Cathe Friedrich, Tracie Long, and Squeeze Stronger videos. For cardio I did step work. I never really liked step before being pregnant. I started trying it though on recommendation from another pregnant friend. I found I liked it a lot for pregnancy because I didn't have to modify anything since it was all on one plain of motion (right, left, front back. No twisting which was uncomfortable by second trimester). I did a lot of weight work as well. I would try and do a legs day, and an upper body day every week. Then I would do some barre work to strengthen and tone my legs and core. I never stopped working my core, which I think helped a lot in labor. I only pushed fifteen minutes and she was out. I would work out at least six times a week for a minimum of 45 minutes to a max of 90 minutes.



How did other people around you react to your fit pregnancy? Was it positive or negative?

- A lot of people were really negative actually. They told me that "This is your chance to take it easy" and "don't push your self". It was frustrating cause I was feeling great and really enjoying my self.

 

What was the most supportive thing someone told you about your fit pregnancy? The most unsupportive?

- The most supportive thing people told me were things like "You only look pregnant in your stomach! You don't look pregnant in your arms" (I thought that one was really funny). The most negative thing someone said was "You should just be resting. You are going to hurt your baby".

How was your first trimester, with respect to exercise?


-First was the HARDEST. I was just so tired. Finding the energy and comitment to stick with it was so hard. But I didn't give my self the slack. I tried not to ever let being pregnant be an excuse when it didn't have to be. I simply kept it up everyday no matter how tired I was. Other then the tiredness, I had no morning sickness at all and my baby was perfectly healthy.

Second trimester?
- Second trimester was awesome! I hit second trimester and felt amazing. I felt human again, and really started pushing my self. I loved it. I started lifting a lot more and just loved the feeling of being strong.
 


Third?

- Third I started actually looking pregnant (I looked freshmen 15 before that lol). Things were a little more awkward but I started feeling even better. I was able to run with ease 4 about four miles. I was proud of my self, and walked around with confidence. I could still wear my normal jeans in fact (my belly wasn't very low though, and I wore ultra low rise jeans).


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?
- I read tons and tons to try and make sure what i was doing was safe. I doubted my self all the time because it's such uncharted territory. I felt like I was a lab rat in my own experiment of health. But I kept coming back to the fact that I worked out before, and I would listen to my body. I was worried at times I was working out to hard because I didn't gain wait till my third trimester. My midwives sent me in to get an ultra sound cause they were sure my baby was only 3 or so pounds during my third trimester. They were wrong. My baby was just tucked deeply in my pelvis and was over 5lbs by the ultrasound technicians guess. They said everything looked great. But I kept doubting my self, and worrying that I was maybe hurting my self in someway.


During your pregnancy, did you have any complications such as hypertension or extreme water retention? Please describe why/why not?
If you could do things differently for your fit pregnancy, what would that be?


- I had zero problems at all with water retention, blood pressure, sugar levels. Everything was really good and kept surprising the midwives. The only battle ground was weight gain actually. My next pregnancy I plan on doing things almost the same but I think I focus more on weights and a little less on cardio.


How much total weight did you gain during your pregnancy?

-11 lbs. I weighed exactly what I did before after I gave birth. But my baby was exactly a month early. My midwives don't think that having her a month early was due to working out, but due to a chiropractor visit I had had that day that caused my water to break.

-A NOTE FROM SARAH ABOUT THIS WEIGHT GAIN:

{{Just to respond briefly about the weight gain, I TRIED to gain more weight actually. i wasn't working out 24 or anything trying to stave off the calories. I was counting calories to try and force my self to gain weight. I made my own nut butters with coconut oil in them and would chow down. I would step on the scale with dread because I was hoping it would say I was at least 1lb heavier. My thinking on the topic after talking to many moms and doctors is some babies put on the majority of their weight in the last month. Since we sadly by-passed that step, I think that is why we ended at only 11lbs. I'm honestly not proud of that fact nor do I tell people generally that. It's just what my body put on and what was I guess in the end healthy for us. She was a perfectly normal size baby at a month early, and had zero health problems at all. I'm not implying I did everything perfect in my pregnancy, or you should do exactly what I did. It's just the truth that it was only 11lbs.}}

 

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?

- I got zero stretch marks. I really focused on eating SUPER clean and ate a lot of healthful fats through out my pregnancy, but a high focus on them in my last trimester. I think this really helped soften my skin. i would also rub my skin with almond oil.


How was your labor and delivery? --  Natural or Assisted? – Long or short? Briefly describe your birth story.

- My birth was in someways a bummer. My water broke and so they had to get me in to labor for fear of infection. They used a prostaglandins and that did the trick. Almost immediately after being given it I started HARD labor and the contractions weren't farther then three minutes apart. I did it naturally and with no assistance. From start to end it was four hours.
 


What was the weight/height of baby?  APGAR scores?


-My baby weighed 6.4 at 21 inches long (for a month early I thought that was awesome!) and she scored an 8 then a 9 on the APGAR.

 

How is health of your baby now?

My daughter is amazing and really has impressed the doctors. Did you see Time magazines article on babies metabolism being set from pregnancy? It was the cover story. It said that babies whose mom's worked out hard during their pregnancy had life long higher metabolism. So far this has proved very true with Eden who is very healthy, but not really chubby. She puts all her calories in to growing and developing.

 

How much of your weight gain have you lost since having your baby? How long did it take?

-I lost it all in the delivery room. I gained about 7 pounds. I think this is due to hormones connected to breastfeeding and maybe a little holiday cheer :-)

 

How do you feel about your body now?

-I feel good! I am still waiting for my uterus to finish contracting. Other then that, I feel like my normal self and have no physical limitations.



What advice would you give other women who want to have a fit pregnancy?

- Work out! Work out hard. Get your heart rate up and sweat everyday. None of this "I walked for ten minutes" crap. Really work out, and know it's very good for your baby. My babies metabolism has been effected by this and it's a gift to her. Eat clean too. Realize everything you put in your mouth is going to the baby so it better be nutrient dense food not just fluff.

Posted Dec 19, 2010 by Cassandra Forsythe.
This entry is filed under fit pregnancy interview.
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Comments for This Entry

GravatarMyndie09:12PM on December 19, 2010

Great interview! I plan on working out while pregnant. Love that last picture too! Thanks Cassandra.

GravatarKylie11:35PM on December 19, 2010

This is so comforting to know!
After years of neglecting myself, then flopping around with ineffective efforts to finally evolving into a lifestyle that I am happy with, I was dreading having to "take it easy" during pregnancy.

Humans have obviously coped with hard work during pregnancy for thousands of years (can't imagine a cave woman's life being all that "easy"...), even up to our grandmother's time.

This will be a great resource to show others what I, and we, can really do!

GravatarPaula Popp11:49PM on December 19, 2010

I was Sarah's doula and Sarah amazed me! She still amazes me! Great job, my dear, in growing and delivering like a PRO that sweet little Eden!

GravatarI. G.02:51AM on December 20, 2010

Cassandra, at first I would like to make very clear that I am a great advocate on exercise during pregnancy. I exercised during my pregnancy as well, usually 6 times a week, lifting, fitness classes, swimming and some endurance exercise and it was pretty intense - though I adjusted what I did to the fact I was pregnant. I totally agree with you that it is fine if pregnant women do a lot more than walking and pre-natal stuff. That said I am not sure if you have chosen the best example to transport that very important message and the many advantages exercising includes for mother and baby. Sarah is for sure a very fit person and was capable to do a lot more than the "average woman". As for nasty comments on a weight lifting pregnant woman - I know them as well! But when I learn about a woman of normal weight whose very intense, daily exercise is paired with a weight gain that is much, much lower than what could still be considered sufficient something rings with me. For many women, a weight gain lower than the 25-35 pounds might be fine (I also gained a little less) but I do not think it is right to make yourself " a lab rat in your own experiment with health" when a tiny human being, completely dependet on you, is concerned. I am happy for Sarah that her kid was healthy and at a healthy weight despite her nearly absent weight gain but that might not be a desirable goal for other women so I wish to stress the need for caution here. Also, giving birth a month earlier (for what ever reasons, I agree that this is probably NOT caused by her exercise routine) is not an example of optimal pregnancy outcome and is diametral to the message you want to deliver...
Also, I feel uneasy when a pregnant woman works out "like a macine" or "works her ass of". There is a wide and healthy range between "just walking" and exploring one`s limits...
I do not want to imply that either of you "did something wrong" I would only like to correct the message that exercising obsesively and keep the weight gain to only 11 pounds without pondering if some factors need corrections might be advisable...

GravatarCassandra05:30AM on December 20, 2010

IG;
Thank you for your comments. However, this brings up an interesting area of thought:
What really is an appropriate weight gain for a fit women? And, what should it be if that women is extremely petite like Sarah is?

Sarah did not restrict her weight gain to only 11lbs... that's what her body allowed her gain while staying active. As you can see, Sarah is very small to begin with and probably couldn't gain more than 25 lbs if she even ate everything in site.

Years ago my grandmother told me that they used to never let women gain more than 15-20 lbs... and her babies (4 of them) all turned out very healthy... not obese like today's kids and no disease.

Not saying that I know what is actually appropriate, but perhaps it's not the same for every woman.

So, before we judge, let's take all factors in account. And, you'll see that not every women gained only 11. But, most are under 25lbs.

Cass

GravatarI. G.06:11AM on December 20, 2010

Cassandra, I didn`t want to express that Sarah did anything wrong. I also gained less than 25 pounds and lost every pound just from giving birth, so there was no fat gain. I also think that the recommendations are too high. My only problem is that women could be easily tempted into using high level exercise as an instrument to gain as little as possible - and that is dangerous. Gaining 11 pounds is just so little that is is to be emphasized that this is not healthy for everybody and that it is risky to experiment with how much you can exercise and how little you can gain (what Sarah didn`t do as you clarified).

GravatarCassandra08:03AM on December 20, 2010

Hi IG

Thank you for your clarification, and I do understand where you're coming from - this is not meant to be a interview series condoning "Pregorexia" or undereating/overexercising. Sarah was unique in that she did gain very little, and is a very small woman to begin with. Her parents and her husband are also the same. Also, she is very healthy with her eating (eats organic, does not eat junk food, stays away from chemicals, eats whole foods) and her mindfullness (a loving, caring person that does not hate on others). She is a great example of a healthy pregnancy, even despite the lower weight gain. But again, remember how small she is and how tiny her genetics are.

GravatarCara08:41AM on December 20, 2010

Hi Cassandra, I came across links to your blog today through Tony (I am currently training with him) but I've known of you for a while since beginning NROLFW a few years ago. I am not pregnant and still not planning it for a few more years, I just wanted to say that you and these women are a great source of inspiration and information. I have shared some of your links in the past with friends wondering about exercising during pregnancy, and I'll be passing these along as well. When the time is right for me I hope to be counted among all the fabulously fit mommas!

GravatarSarah10:37AM on December 20, 2010

So just to respond briefly about the weight gain, I TRIED to gain more weight actually. i wasn't working out 24 or anything trying to stave off the calories. I was counting calories to try and force my self to gain weight. I made my own nut butters with coconut oil in them and would chow down. I would step on the scale with dread because I was hoping it would say I was at least 1lb heavier. My thinking on the topic after talking to many moms and doctors is some babies put on the majority of their weight in the last month. Since we sadly by-passed that step, I think that is why we ended at only 11lbs. I'm honestly not proud of that fact nor do I tell people generally that. It's just what my body put on and what was I guess in the end healthy for us. She was a perfectly normal size baby at a month early, and had zero health problems at all. I'm not implying I did everything perfect in my pregnancy, or you should do exactly what I did. It's just the truth that it was only 11lbs.

GravatarI. G.10:46AM on December 21, 2010

Sarah, I did not want tobe rude. I would like to attributemy insensitivity to the fact that English is not my native tongue, but I guess it is more due to that I sometimes speak first and think afterwards...I did not want to imply that you behaved in a harmful way. I was just very conderned that people might get a wrong message from your words, but I think this is clarified now. So please accept my apologize for the not-so-well-chosen way I expressed my thoughts! And I love coconut butter, too :-)

GravatarMiranda11:19AM on December 21, 2010

Just finished reading all 3 of the fit pregnancy series, very inspiring! I love hearing these great outcomes from moms who have been hitting the gym as often as me and still lifting weights as well. I have to say I am totally jealous of the 11 lb, even 26 lb weight gain stories! I am 25 weeks and already up 20 lbs - despite being in the gym or doing something active an hour a day every day, plus being vigilant about my diet and watching calories. I also eat basically only whole foods, cook all 3 of my meals at home, and eat greek yogurt with fruit instead of sweets when I am craving them (which is REALLY hard around Christmas!) I talk to other active pregnant women who are at a similar place with weight gain too. I don't feel that under 25 lbs represents the majority of women, but I realize everyone is different in that regard.

I love the comment that the exercise helps to keep baby fit as well, this is going to be my new line when someone makes a snide comment!

GravatarSarah11:34AM on December 21, 2010

Miranda. Don't feel bad about the 20lb gain.my midwives told me that it isn't uncommon to gain all your weight in the first trimester, or in the last or gain it slowly through out. It's your own journey and pregnancy.

I did cut out ALL sugar besides fruit in my pregnancy I will add. It really was hard at first, but I think that was part of the low weight gain. I didn't have a chubby baby, I had a lean-mean baby. I listened to my body and ate when hungry, and really just focused on protein and then in third trimester put an emphasis on healthful fats. You will be great if you keep up with where you are

GravatarMiranda11:49AM on December 21, 2010

Sarah, that's awesome about cutting out the sugar totally. I still have a cookie here and there, but my view is that there are sweet things I can eat to satisfy my sweet craving that also have a nutritional benefit for my little girl - what can a baby do nutritionally with a cookie? Not much that I know of, so I watch it with the sweets.

As for the weight gain, I was at a pretty low body fat prior to pregnancy, so it was like my body wanted to get some stores in place right away. I am not worried, I get comments like someone else here mentioned 'you don't look pregnant anywhere but your belly'. So I must be doing something right.

How much protein did you get in per day if I may ask? And as for the healthy fats, you mentioned coconut oil which is great - did you do any eliminations in the 3rd tri? I have read women sometimes remove nuts and seeds during the 3rd tri to prevent nut allergies as that is when the digestive system development takes place. But I have a hard time with that idea since nuts are a major staple in my diet.

GravatarSarah02:10PM on December 21, 2010

Lol oh no I didn't cut them out. My midwives started breathing down my neck to gain weight so I would look up nutrition in different nuts, and combine them to make nut butters. I would stand at the fridge and just eat it with a spoon. I would mix in a little flax oil and coconut oil to it when I made it. It made me loose weight I think in the end lol. But I love nuts and it was to hard for me to give up. I had read about women giving them up for fear of allergies. My family has no history of any type of nut allergy and they are my favorite food (far above chocolate or any of the normal favorites) so I kept 'em in.

I decided that cookies and sweets just weren't worth it. I tried only to put notoriously dense foods in my mouth. I ate lots of bee pollen and raw milk.

In terms of protein my goal was to get over 80 grams a day but I normally landed on 100 grams. It was a lot of work but so worth it. Eden is just so healthy now and really alert and bright and I really attribute it to all my work on my diet during pregnancy and now.

GravatarSarah02:10PM on December 21, 2010

Lol oh no I didn't cut them out. My midwives started breathing down my neck to gain weight so I would look up nutrition in different nuts, and combine them to make nut butters. I would stand at the fridge and just eat it with a spoon. I would mix in a little flax oil and coconut oil to it when I made it. It made me loose weight I think in the end lol. But I love nuts and it was to hard for me to give up. I had read about women giving them up for fear of allergies. My family has no history of any type of nut allergy and they are my favorite food (far above chocolate or any of the normal favorites) so I kept 'em in.

I decided that cookies and sweets just weren't worth it. I tried only to put notoriously dense foods in my mouth. I ate lots of bee pollen and raw milk.

In terms of protein my goal was to get over 80 grams a day but I normally landed on 100 grams. It was a lot of work but so worth it. Eden is just so healthy now and really alert and bright and I really attribute it to all my work on my diet during pregnancy and now.

GravatarRachel02:35PM on December 21, 2010

When I got pregnant, I had been lifting heavy weights (following TNROLFW program) for a few months. My doctor was nervous about my lifting heavy weights while pregnant, not because of any potential harm to the baby (he didn't buy into that 140 bpm nonsense, either), but because it could strain my pelvic muscles and lead to future incontinence. I'm not trying to pit you against my doctor at all, but I'm curious whether you have any insight into this issue.

GravatarTania06:21AM on December 22, 2010

To Sarah: Could you give an example of what you ate during a typical day when you were pregnant (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks)? That would be helpful!

GravatarEmma B08:43AM on December 22, 2010

The reason women used to be told to restrict their weight gain (and were encouraged to smoke, and given amphetamines for weight control) was in the belief that it would produce smaller babies, and therefore prevent difficult deliveries in a time where c-sections were not as available or as safe. It did result in smaller babies overall, but also meant that there were more low-birthweight babies, who are prone to all sorts of neonatal problems.

Because of the way that pregnancy weight gain is distributed, a small weight gain is actually indicative that the mother is losing fat and in negative caloric balance. Yes, the baby only weighs 7 or 8 lbs, but when you add in a 2-lb placenta, 2 lbs of amniotic fluid, 2 lbs of uterine muscle tissue, and 4 lbs of extra blood, you're looking at a minimum gain of 17-18 lbs even if you don't gain an ounce of fat or have any fluid retention at all. (This is why I find it incredibly annoying that obese women are told to gain NO weight -- in essence, they are being ordered to lose 20 lbs or more of fat.)

Even a very fit and small woman has to gain that essential pregnancy weight, and most of the organ/fluid weight gain happens prior to 36 weeks and would not be affected by preterm delivery. If Sarah had a 6-lb baby and only gained 11 lbs on the scale, then she was actually in negative caloric balance and was losing fat over the course of the pregnancy. I'd be wary of holding her eating or exercise habits up as a model for the rest of us.

GravatarCassandra10:35AM on December 22, 2010

Hey Emma - Check out what Sarah ate during her pregnancy (read her comments here) and you'll see she was adding a LOT of caloricly dense foods to her diet plus nutrition foods that some of us have never even attempted eating but that are so good for us.

Again, Sarah tried (and tried) to gain weight and received a lot of flack for her lack of increase (much like what you're giving her right now). But, she wasn't restricting or over-exercising - this is just what her body did with the weight and still produced an extremely healthy, happy, calm baby girl. Who's to judge and say that it's wrong?

If you are not content with Sarah's account of a fit pregnancy, turn away and direct your attention to the others I've posted and will be posting (I've posted 3 more since and have at least 5 more to go) - which are also successful and healthy, but please, just consider differences among women, especially very small women like her compared to bigger women.

GravatarCassandra11:45AM on December 22, 2010

Also remember that she delivered 4 weeks early... so, there could have been more weight gain in the next 4 weeks, but unfortunately that last stage was bypassed. She didn't force herself into early labor or anything either....

GravatarGina11:43AM on January 04, 2011

What workout game was Sarah using in the first picture? Looks like it's on the Wii. I need to get it! :)

GravatarBeate11:27AM on January 05, 2011

Sarah, how did you manage to eat 100 g of protein/day? Did you have only animal protein or did you eat plant protein as well? Did you supplement?

GravatarJen02:44PM on January 07, 2011

Cassandra,
I loved reading all of the interviews on fit pregnancies. Thank you so much for taking the time to post them. This is my 3rd pregnancy and with both past pregnancies, I worked out, but reduced my intensity and really only walked/elliptical/stairmaster. Before becoming pregnant with this baby, I had stepped up my routine in the last year or two, including interval training, bootcamps & more of a weight lifting routine, so I am thankful for these types of blogs that let me know it is "ok" to continue with what I am doing and what feels right. Like the other poster asked, I was curious what video she was doing in the picture above? Sometimes I just want to do a video, but one that is not "boring" for pregnancy. Any suggestions? Someone wrote about Chalean extreme? Any recs? Thank you!

GravatarBeatrix08:45PM on May 23, 2011

Hi Cassandra,
i'm so happy to have stumbled upon your website, and in particular this series of interviews. I myself am 20 weeks pregnant with my second child. With my first pregnancy i was too concerned about my baby's health that i was one of the ones who gave up weights and wore a heart rate monitor to keep my temperature down whilst only doing mild cardio. All that despite being a previous bodybuilder wannabe!! This pregnancy is so much different. I now work in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and have kept up my own fitness level by continuing my lifting - yes, squats, bench presses, deadlifts - and maintaining the heavy weights I had been lifting. I googled and stumbled upon your website in the hopes of finding other women like me, who feel that it is only beneficial to keep training.
Thank you very much...now I must go and do my cardio for the day.
:)

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