This week’s blog post is written by Explorer Family Cassie Markham from @cassie.adventuring. Cassie has written a piece for us to share about staying active during pregnancy, which can be intimidating and overwhelming for some. Cassie explores with her 7-month old daughter Aspen around Fraser Valley, BC and we couldn’t be more delighted to share this topic with you today. Here is what Cassie has written for us today:
My fitness journey began in 2018; after struggling with depression and anxiety for a few years and a difficult loss that acted as a catalyst for change.
I had been passionate about the mountains from a young age, falling in love with snowboarding on an elementary school trip to Manning Park, but over time snowboarding had become increasingly challenging for me as my health declined, and eventually, I lacked motivation and the physical strength needed to enjoy long days in the mountains. It was at this point I knew I needed to reevaluate my priorities and make some pretty big lifestyle changes
I started by making small changes; I focused on hiking because it allowed me time in the mountains and I could incorporate photography which was another interest of mine that I rarely made time for.
Over time I got more into hiking, I rekindled my love for the mountains, and started developing a summit wish list that extended well beyond my capabilities at the time.
To continue hiking I took up spin, I went to group cycle classes 2-3 times per week. Group classes were an excellent motivational tool when I couldn’t find anyone to work out with and having to sign-up in advance was a bonus. It didn’t feel like much at the time, but fast-forward 18 months and I had lost 60 lbs.
Exercise and Pregnancy
It’s no secret the exercise has a ton of benefits, especially while pregnant, from positive endorphins to better sleep and mental and physical well-being. When I got pregnant at the end of 2020, I worried about losing all the progress I’d made, losing my physical strength and the positive habits I’d built.
I’m not saying it was easy, I struggled a lot, but eventually found what worked for me and was able to maintain activity through-out my pregnancy. I did this through a combination of focusing specifically on activities I enjoyed, having a great support team and not skipping on the self-care.
*The below recommendations are things that worked for me, keep in mind that every body is different and I am not a doctor. Be sure to speak to your doctor or midwife before starting any fitness program or new activities during pregnancy.
Focus on Activities You Love
Through-out pregnancy I focused on the activities I loved, I modified them as needed and didn’t waste my time on things I didn’t enjoy. For me, I know that I’m awful at sticking to online work-out plans, I hate bootcamps and endless days at the gym, so I didn’t waste my energy there. I do however, love snowboarding, hiking and yoga.
I snowboarded up until the fifth month of my pregnancy. I was concerned about spending time in a busy resort and the dangers that can bring so I focused my energy on low-risk trails in the backcountry. We even got in a day of heli-skiing and a back-country lodge trip.
When I was feeling too sore for long days in the mountains, I kept things up by going for shorter walks in my neighborhood, and when I didn’t have the motivation to get outside, I did spin classes or yoga.
Pregnancy isn’t a great time to take up new activities but you don’t have to stop doing the things you’re already doing (unless you’re facing complications or have other high risk factors). A lot of my day to day activities may be considered extreme to some but after thorough discussions with my doctor and physio I was cleared to keep up a lot of that activities I had been doing pre-pregnancy (with modifications).
Yoga was already something I loved doing but if you don’t do yoga already, I highly recommend taking a few shorter classes a week or at least taking some time to stretch, it will do wonders for all those random aches and pains that seem to show up throughout the nine months. There are a lot of great free resources online for prenatal yoga or if you prefer a class setting most studios have specific prenatal classes you can join.
Aside from focusing on things that I loved, another key aspect was my support team. Communicating your goals to your partner or friends ensures that you have cheerleaders to get you moving when motivation is low and you’re not feeling your best.
There were a lot of days that I didn’t feel like moving, where I wanted to lay in bed all day and some days you totally need that. Set goals knowing that they can and will change depending on your symptoms that day but be open to trying things out and sometimes you’ll find you feel better once you just get moving.
Aside from this cheer squad I also needed a lot of support with my body; I was 31 and this was my first pregnancy (read: my body felt like it was too old to be making room for a baby).
Through-out my pregnancy I made a point of regularly going in for chiro, physio and RMT. I sought out a team that specialized in treating pregnant women and had the set-up to do so and it was a game changer. A lot of these treatments were covered by my regular benefits so check with your employer and you may already have coverage.
I also saw a pelvic floor physio, if you’re not already familiar with pelvic floor physios I highly recommend looking into it during your pregnancy and not waiting till after. I started going around 5 months and my PFP was able to give me modified workouts through-out my pregnancy, support me with exercises to relieve my lower back pain and help prep me for labor.
For example, a lot of pregnancy literature still focuses on Kegels as the essential pregnancy exercise but that may not be the case for you, it certainly wasn’t for me. Through my PFP I discovered I had a hyper-tonic pelvic floor and needed to focus on relaxing my pelvic floor to improve birth outcomes, Kegels were the exact opposite of what I needed.
Set your goals small and don’t get discouraged when you can’t do everything you could do pre-pregnancy. Lean hard on your support team and focus on movement not the destination.
Aspen turned 7 months old yesterday and we’re still not back where we were pre-pregnancy. It is a journey and I’ve had to adjust my expectations quite a bit along the way, but I do feel like we’re making good progress and more importantly, taking the time to build back up slowly to avoid injury so that we can keep enjoying the activities together for years to come.
Thank-you for following along with this week’s blog post written by @cassie.adventuring. Don’t forget to tag us @KidsWhoExplore and use hashtags #KidsWhoExplore and #KWE to share your adventures with us! Happy Exploring