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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fitness and pregnancy
Fit for Life

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fitness and pregnancy

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Sean McCawley

Sean McCawley 

Brining another human into this world is a monumental event. We have the ability to grant the gift of life to a baby allowing them to flourish, thrive, and partake in the wonders offered by the world. Once we see a newborn baby enter the world, their eyes open for the very first time, their first breaths can be heard, and their first movements are witnessed.

Carrying a growing human within the womb is one of the most intimate relationships among two humans. There is no other time in a person’s life when two human beings are so intricately linked than a mother carrying a child in her womb.

A physical and emotional bond develops as a baby prepares to join the elaborate world. However, before, during, and after pregnancy, this phenomenological genesis of new life dawns a substantial task the mother endures on a physical, mental, and emotional scale.

Additional weight gain during pregnancy can span anywhere from 15 to 35 pounds. Sometimes more depending on the circumstance. Stress hormone concentration can increase throughout the body due to the new physical and physiological demands put on the body.

The saying, “you’re eating for two now,” is a valid statement that indicates a developing baby is taking in the nutrients present in the mother’s body. This statement is similar to that of having to move in with a new roommate or family member on short notice.

Imagine having to share your room with someone you don’t know or aren't prepared for. This environment might stress you out. Additionally, the immediate increase in hormones along with the change of chemistry in the blood can cause side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches.

Lastly, a belly the size of a watermelon introduced over a short period of time can pose a physical obstacle that puts a roadblock in normal everyday activities such as sleeping or putting on a seatbelt.

Normally, when people gain additional undesired weight that causes this many disruptions, it takes more than eight to nine months for such issues to materialize. Pregnant mothers deal with these rapid changes immediately.

Along with lifestyle changes, the body has additional tasks imposed in a noticeably short amount of time. Weight gain can occur as soon as three months.

Joints aren’t ready for this mass appearing on the body this soon. This applies additional compressive forces on the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles. These compressive forces push downward on bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles causing swelling, achy muscles, and nagging pain.

Non-acclimated joints afflicted by rapid weight gain enter the threat of developing arthritis and joint disease in the future. Additionally, physical complications include increased abdominal mass and girth leading to anterior pulling on the lumbar spine and suboptimal tilting of the pelvis.

The chest area of pregnant women can increase, causing disruption in the cervical and thoracic spine along with shoulder blade pain. Combining these physical challenges with a traffic jam of stress hormones similar to that of a Los Angles highway traffic jam, we have the perfect storm for a body enduring quite the challenge throughout pregnancy.

Fortunately, the human body is equipped to survive such struggles through the beauty of lifetime fitness. We consult with personal training clients who are planning to become pregnant, are currently pregnant, or are looking to recover their bodies after childbirth.

Similar to the adaptations a standard, non-pregnant person gains from an effective exercise regimen, a pregnant woman’s muscles aren’t much different. An exercise prescription emphasizing on injury prevention, mobility, gaining strength, rehabbing previous injuries, and training for a particular event, benefit the general population to improve their overall quality of life.

Performing resistance training, taking yoga classes or engaging in a game of pickleball utilizes stress hormones naturally to improve physical performance throughout these activities.

The result leads to exercise participants being more relaxed and having less psychological and emotional stress following these bouts of physical activity. It’s no surprise that executing a resistance training routine will strengthen muscles and lead to decreased pain in common problem areas such as the neck, shoulder, upper and lower back, hips, knees, and ankles.

It’s noteworthy to know that people sleep better when participating in a routinized exercise program. Decreased pain, lower stress, and better sleep sounds like something a pregnant woman, dealing with the newfound challenges she is presented, can certainly use. Possessing a solid foundation to return to after childbirth makes catching back up to the path of your previous fitness goals not so distant.

The challenges of pregnancy present themselves in various ways. However, understanding that the body can still harness the benefits of a structured fitness routine throughout pregnancy helps the body ride through the mental, physical, and emotional undertow. Remember to adhere to a simple and effective exercise program to prepare your body for pregnancy and for the road to recovery afterward as well.

Many people still have concerns about the safety of the coronavirus vaccine, especially if they are pregnant. Source by: Stringr

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Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, CA, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, or visit the website

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