Fit Pregnancy Interview with Jill Mills
Jill Mills 2 weeks before her due date with Baby #1
Today am am beyond excited to post my next Fit Pregnancy Interview with the amazingly beautiful, strong, and talented mother of two (yes 2), Ms Jill Mills.
For those of you who are not familiar with Jill, get ready to be inspired and impressed:
Jill has spent the past 19 years as a physique and strength competitive athlete - she had her first child right when she started competing (a daughter which you will see in the video below), but didn't let that stop her. During her competitive years, she won the title of “2001 and 2002 World’s Strongest Woman” and was state, national and world powerlifting champion between 1996-2003. She won over 50 titles between the sports of strongwoman and powerlifting. (AWESOME!!)
Just recenlty (3 years ago), she had her second child, a boy and has been busy with him. She now enjoys training others in the sport and promoting competitions and seminars. Her goal is to bring children and more women into the sport and to make it accessible to our wounded warriors. She plans to return to the powerlifting platform in competition in January 2012 after a 6 year hiatus (YES!).
Check out this outstanding video to see why Jill rocks and why she is an inspiration to every pregnant woman and mother out there:
(here's the link in case you don't see the video here)
Now that you've been officially impressed after watching this video, read on to learn more about Jill's experience with her fit pregnancies and why you should never give up on your own love for being fit even while being pregnant:
Jill, this interview is for you to share your fit pregnancy experience with other women and inspire them to stay active.
Unfortunately, many women are scared to exercise while pregnant for fear it is harmful for their unborn child. How do you feel about this now that you’ve had your own fit pregnancy?
I know this isn’t going to make me popular for saying, but I think many women, (Americans in particular) are lazy by nature and use pregnancy as an excuse to eat what they want and be sedentary during pregnancy. Others are misinformed or ignorant and listen to people who tell them they may hurt the baby if they are active. I believe we should look at our ancestors, or women in 3rd world countries who literally physically work up until the day they give birth. We should also consider that the newborn is much more durable than we give it credit to be. Consider the traumatic process of childbirth and how they tolerate this difficult process.
How hard were you exercising before you became pregnant? What were you doing?
I was training heavy in the gym and also doing a lot of conditioning work for an adventure race. I was actually 10 weeks pregnant when I made the discovery. I took a pregnancy test because I crashed my mountain bike and tore my tricep and required surgery.
Jill squatting and looking beautiful while doing it!
When you found out your were pregnant, did you modify your workout routine? How & Why?
I modified my workouts because I was recovering from my tricep resection. I continued to squat but had to use a different bar that didn’t require me to hold on with 2 arms, I focused on what I could do and worked around the arm. By the time my arm was well enough to use again my belly was becoming big and then I had to work around that. It was a very challenging time for me mentally and physically.
When you first found out you were pregnant what was your primary concern with respect to your exercise routine?
I wanted to do it on my terms. I didn’t want to feel like a prisoner in my body and live under a bunch of silly restrictions like most pregnant women submit to. I wanted to maintain as normal of a routine and as much strength as I possibly could.
Overall, during your pregnancy, describe what did you do for exercise?
I continued to squat up until the day I gave birth. I modified to accommodate my hyper flexible joints (from relaxin hormone) and shifting pelvic bones as my body began to change by squatting onto a box slightly above parallel. I was still squatting 275x5 until about week 30. After that point I noticed more fatigue and so I allowed myself to slowly diminish the weight until I was just using 135 for sets of 8 the day before delivery. I didn’t deadlift from the floor but pulled from the rack mostly because it was just too uncomfortable to get that low with a big belly. I also didn’t do lunges but did do step ups because of the belly. As far as upper body exercises I did everything as usual. I did avoid cleans and snatches because I was afraid I would whack my ever extending belly. Plus my joints felt so unstable from the relaxin.
I did promise my doctor I would wear a heart monitor and keep it under 140 bpm. She explained that at that point the blood and oxygen Is shunted from the womb so it is not healthy for the baby. We had an agreement that she would not give me a hard time about my weights as long as I maintained that restriction. I let my size and fatigue be my guide.
How did other people around you react to your fit pregnancy? Was it positive or negative?
So many people are ignorant and still believe a pregnant woman is frail and should not be active so yes, I did receive some dirty looks in the gym. I believe I know my body better than anyone though so I did what I thought was best for me and my baby.
What was the most supportive thing someone told you about your fit pregnancy? The most unsupportive?
A man pulled me aside and told me I needed to stop lifting “ all that weight”.
1st off, what he considered a lot of weight may have been for most women but for me it was literally half of what I would usually use so I wasn’t straining in any way. I told him thanks for the concern but mind his own business.
Jill 2 weeks before her due date
How was your first trimester, with respect to exercise?
Normal except I noticed more shortness of breath, limitation was from a torn tricep repair, not from pregnancy
Limitations was rehab of tricep repair, fatigue, and belly beginning to expand and joints more pliable. Otherwise I pressed on as close to normal as possible
Big drop in energy, didn’t take nearly as much to get my heart rate up to the limit. Also found my belly a limitation and noticed my balance wasn’t as good
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 just used good old common sense. Nothing on my belly, nothing potentially traumatic to the abdomen, if something felt wrong (like running) I didn’t do it. I have read it is safe to run but for me it was extremely uncomfortable due to the position of my son so I would walk bleachers or hills instead.
The only time I became concerned was after one workout I didn’t feel any activity from my son for a few hours. After that (about week 30) I cut back on the intensity by slowing down and shortening them.
During your pregnancy, did you have any complications such as hypertension or extreme water retention? Please describe why/why not?
Not the 2nd but the 1st I was being monitored for PIH. I didn’t have edema though
If you could do things differently for your fit pregnancy, what would that be?
Nothing during per se, but after, I would have backed off a bit longer. After I had my son I was so anxious to get my strength and body back; I pushed way to hard and fast and was back to 365x5 on squat and deadlifts 3 months postpartum.
Not wise!! I think my stress fractures in my hip and spine may be from that. At the time I didn't care... I just wanted to feel like my old self but I would advise anyone to give their body a chance to level out and everything to go back to normal first.
How much total weight did you gain during your pregnancy?
I was 171 the day I found out I was pregnant, 197 when I gave birth, and 171 10 days after my c section.
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?
No stretch marks at all.
See? No stretch marks! 9 months after baby
How was your labor and delivery? -- Natural or Assisted? – Long or short? Briefly describe your birth stories.
Both were horrible! The 1st I was 2 weeks late so I was admitted for an induction. I was hooked up to a Pitocin drip for 1 ½ days with contractions regulated every 2 minutes through mid day 2 and NO pain meds. It was an army hospital so things were done a bit different. Finally towards the evening of day 2 they gave me some pain medicine. At that point I relaxed enough I guess my body was finally able to stop fighting and I dilated from 2-10 cm and I finally gave birth that night.
Baby 2 started similar with the induction and minimal dilation. I let them talk me into an epidural because I was prepared for a nightmare experience like baby 1. Now I feel that was a big mistake. I was numb so I wasn’t able to reposition, move, or assist my son in turning so he was stuck face up and after 3 ½ hours of pushing the doctor finally called it and wheeled me in for a c-section. I was devastated because I felt that was the end of my strength competitions. The positive note here is during all of the pushing and the long process my baby remained strong and never showed any dip in heart rate. Maybe all of the training helped him too(?)
What was the weight/height of your babies? APGAR scores?
He was 21” and 7lb 14oz with BIG head and shoulders! I don’t remember their scores
My 1st was 7lb 1 oz and 22 “
How is the health of your babies now? How old are your children?
Baby 1 is now 19 and pregnant with her own. Baby 2 is 3 and VERY healthy and active. Most kids in daycare seem to get sick all the time but neither of mine ever get sick. The last time my son was ill was almost a year ago and it was a 24 hour virus. My daughter was the same
Jill with her daughter
How much of your weight gain have you lost since having your baby? How long did it take?
I bounced back within 3 months with both…much harder at 37 than at 20 though.. especially with a c section.
How do you feel about your body now?
It has taken me almost 3 years to feel like I can really get back in the strength game due to problems related with the c section and stress fractures in my spine and hip from old injuries. I don’t feel as solid as I used to but I’m sure being almost 40 has something to do with that
Jill 12 months after having baby #2 at 38 years old!! (MY HERO!!)
What advice would you give other women who want to have a fit pregnancy?
I believe if a woman uses common sense, stays hydrated, doesn’t over heat or do anything traumatic or potentially hazardous like maybe racquetball or soccer where they may get hit or fall then they should try to remain as active and exercise as much as their energy level allows.
You can learn more about Jill and her awesomeness at her website here: http://www.jillmills.com/
Thank you, Jill!