The Dangers of Exercising While Pregnant

So far I’ve found only one: a slightly higher chance of doing dumb things in reaction to normal muscle aches.

Let me tell you yesterday’s story!

I have been having tightening sensations in my lower abdomen for days- since Thursday.  I’ve been resting as much as anyone could expect of a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, and drinking fluids, apart from teaching Zumba classes on Thursday and yesterday morning (even though I had some bleeding yesterday morning- the midwife and I agreed it was probably nothing, made some minor adjustments to how I should be going about my weekend, and then basically forgot about it).

Yesterday afternoon, the tightening got worse.  My husband, daughter, and I were doing our weekly grocery shopping run when I began to feel like my tummy was just… fatigued.  The muscles needed to rest, and to my knowledge, they weren’t doing anything.  This wasn’t ligament pain, this wasn’t labor contractions, this wasn’t gas… this was God-knows-what, and it alarmed me a bit because I just knew that squatting down (common reaction to labor) would provide some relief.  So I found myself randomly squatting down in the grocery store, pretending to be scanning the bottom shelves.  I knew this wasn’t me in labor, but something was going on, and it was getting worse.

We dropped our darling daughter off at her grandparents’ house and went back home for dinner, a ton of fluids, and some rest.  Then we decided to go to an arena football game Zack had won tickets to, and at the football game, things got worse again.

I called the midwife, and we decided to go to L&D to get checked out.  Commence endless eye rolls from my husband and I, because, while necessary, the trip was sure to produce nothing.  We knew what was going to happen: they would hook me up to monitors, I wouldn’t have a single contraction, they might check for dilation, and I’d be sent home.

That is what happened.  Not a single contraction (thank goodness!)

However, while there, I asked the nurse a bunch of questions, and one that occurred to me was about muscle fatigue: is it common for people to confuse pain from working out with contractions?  She said it was a definite possibility.

Face in palm.

The sensations began on Thursday, after teaching a class, and got worse Saturday, after teaching a class.  I had been sure I was not working any muscles in my lower abdomen, mostly since it feels impossible and a little because I consciously focus on upper abs when we work out those muscles in class.  I am a little ashamed to report that muscle soreness/the tightening of a muscle group after working it out fairly well during pregnancy feels exactly the same as that sensation outside of pregnancy.  It’s a little more uncomfortable because of the pressure on all of that fluid inside that baby balloon you’re carrying, but really, it’s the same thing.

Leave it to a Zumba instructor to not realize that she’s sore from working out.

Apart from the above story, working out during pregnancy has been an amazing experience.  Even when I was down with the first trimester sickness, I taught once a week and went for as many walks as possible, and these activities offered me some distractions and some endorphins- good stuff.  Now that I am teaching 3 times a week, it’s even better.  It’s slowing the pregnancy weight gain, I’m conserving muscle mass (which wasn’t the case with the first pregnancy- I had a slight case of chicken legs after that one), I’m less hungry on days I work out than on days I don’t.  Working out is keeping me in shape for all of the squats I know I’ll be doing during labor.  It helps me feel like a human being when I’m actually two.

I think the real dangers of exercise in pregnancy happen when you’re out of shape and you suddenly feel that nesting urge and clean the whole house, exhausting yourself.  This definitely happened to me the first time.  I also ended up tired from just about everything during the third trimester, and this wrought major havoc on my inner peace (“I can’t take another day of pregnancy!” Is not productive thinking when you have about 50 left).  This time, I barely notice a difference between 20 weeks and 28 weeks.

All I’m saying is… Zumba!


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