“I am pregnant,” I murmur to my husband as he returns from a wine errand ahead of our Saturday evening dinner. In slow motion, I see joy, nerves and confusion sweep across his face. Our lives are about to change. We’ll be swapping our merlot for milk, our dancing for dolls and the only spontaneous travel we will be doing would be a midnight diaper-run. A real-life human will be reliant upon us, how will we ever be ready?
The next morning, I went out to purchase every pregnancy book I could get my hands on, and plowed through the pages. I spent the first two weeks, night after night, soaking in all the baby knowledge I could take. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: the pregnancy exhaustion. All proposed plans for December (and Christmas) were indefinitely cancelled. Nothing could wake me up from my fifteen-hour slumber. And then the world’s most aggressive alarm clock decided to ring: nausea.
After a dramatic drop in weight and a visit to my doctor, I was told I have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a severe nausea condition. “Kate Middleton had it too!” My British self and the Duchess share the same experience. How…wonderful? I was advised to eat anything I could (which I absolutely did) and was told to stay active (which I absolutely did not.) One morning I woke up and realized it was time to regain control of my being… it was time to revitalize myself. My body needed some TLC, and surely working out alongside other nauseous mothers-to-be would be a comforting experience?
I have always enjoyed Pilates and when I found out it was beneficial for expectant mothers, I rejoiced. 899 sits between Yorkville and Rosedale and is a bright and wonderful studio offering a Wednesday evening prenatal Pilates session. The class is designed to strengthen muscles for delivery, specifically the pelvic floor, using movements suited to pregnant bodies. I follow the instructor’s directions and engage my deep abdominal muscles whilst lengthening my limbs. I focus on inhaling and exhaling rhythmically (and fight the temptation to snooze). My muscles and mind are engaged; I feel a sense of control. “I am the master of my body,” I think to myself, as the class comes to an end. Just then, my bump decides to remind me who’s boss, as I escape the room for a head-spinning episode of nausea. Baby – 1, Mummy – 0.
Equipped with ginger tea in hand, I walk into Toronto Yoga Mamas feeling optimistic. I’m about to enter a bubble of tranquility; committing to an hour of me time. I deserve it. A few minutes into the class and I feel tremendously calm and stress-free. The room is filled with serenity and the voice of the instructor is soothing and clear. What differentiates prenatal yoga from the regular type is a lack of focus on abdominal strength and the avoidance of twisting and turning. Instead, the postures are designed to strengthen the lower back and enhance flexibility. There is no pushing of boundaries. For the first time, I listen to my body and what it requires from me. I feel a sense of confidence return, maybe I am still as flexible as I remember? Aside from the physical impact of this class, I leave with a peaceful and positive energy, ready for my day ahead.
Before pregnancy, I was a regular face at Barre 3. I would attend a Wednesday and Saturday class every week and raved about the results. Eventually, I managed to convince a group of girlfriends to join me, and it became a way both to socialize and burn some calories before two hours of prosecco and truffle fries. With my ambition to restore some normality back into my pre-mummy life, I ventured back into the studio ready to do the class I had done at least one hundred times before. Barre 3 offers one type of workout; it is a 60 minutes full body exercise that focuses on small movements at high repetition with the use of resistance bands, a ballet bar and small weights. It is completely safe for expectant mothers, and the instructor provides modifications and alternative movements to suit all fitness levels. The combination of strength training and cardio releases a rush of endorphins in me; I feel invigorated. I feel a sweat coming on and my heart thanking me for making it race. Both with and without baby, this is my favourite workout.
Mummies-to-be, please share your favourite workouts with me?