After experiencing two optimally healthy pregnancies and one fast and one lightening fast birth, I am convinced that sticking to a paleo/primal diet and daily intense exercise are the key to a successful pregnancy training program.
I approached my pregnancies as if the 40 weeks of gestation were training time for a big event. Many people say labor and delivery is like a marathon. I say a marathon is a piece of cake. Heck, you can walk if you need to, you’re occasionally served water along the way and you are in control of your physical experience.
To me childbirth is an event that would start with a nice light jog that transitions into a little hill work, then bodyweight tabata intervals, next comes full body weighted compound exercises with no rest between reps or sets and finally, now that you are nice and exhausted, is the final Olympic power lifting to full muscle failure.
And, basically that’s how I trained throughout my pregnancies. Here’s the plan I stuck through thick or thin (keep in mind that I moved my family 1500 miles, lived in a hotel for two months bought a new house and renovated it all between August and when I gave birth on December 30 – no excuses).
- Eat according to a paleo/primal diet. I found that a high fat low carb diet kept my blood sugar so stable that I had no cravings whatsoever.
- Keep steady cardio light, but do lots of it. Take walks, play with kids, just don’t sit around all day. I used to be a cardio queen, but no more. Excessive cardio can be exhausting and lead to injuries. What you really need for game day is the ability to do very intense intervals and muscle strength – too much steady cardio saps these abilities.
- Do intense intervals. As your pregnancy progresses, intensity is going to change. Obviously you will not be jumping or performing at your non pregnant ability. Gauge intensity for yourself and repeat. I fell in love with Tabata intervals.
- Perform full body weight routines with moderate weigh at least three days a week.
- Do heavy weights one day a week.
I realize that every baby, every pregnancy and every woman is different. But, this regimen worked for me twice. What were the results?
My glucose tolerance test was a 70 and 72 both times. I gained 15 pounds my first pregnancy and 17 this time. I had optimally healthy babies with ideal weights for their gestational age (I gave birth at 38 weeks both times). My first labor went pretty fast. I felt great until active labor. Active labor lasted two hours and I pushed for 15 minutes. The second time around I was walking around at 6 cm dilated, so when I started labor at 5pm, active labor started at 6:15 or so and my second son was born a half hour later.
Also, I believe that my training helped prep me to give birth naturally with no pain meds or IV fluids. Finally, my breast milk is abundant. My husband jokes that I can go into business selling the stuff.
If you are pregnant or planning to be. Get in the best shape of your life before conceiving and adopt a primal diet right away. Keep training in the above mentioned way and do it every day if you can.