I announced to my parents that I was pregnant and after the big hugs and excitement calmed down, my mother turned to me and in a stern voice said “Don’t eat too many sweets and start exercising now or the birth will split you in two”.
I wish I could say that I stuck to the first part, but to be honest I got an inverted version of morning sickness, rather than losing my appetite I had an insatiable hunger, right before the Christmas season, sweeties were inevitable. But I did listen to the second part and began to look around for the possibilities.
Having no affiliation to any sport, and having never exercised regularly, I was warned that now was not the time to discover my inner Katie Taylor. I could walk, swim or do pregnancy yoga pilates (for a long time I did not realise that these were two separate things). I love swimming, but between the driving to a pool, getting undressed before and dressed again afterwards, and sorting out long wet hair in freezing Irish winter, it was really more effort than I was willing to put in. Walking is fine, but I already walk about two hours with the dog every second day, and after a while it just gets boring, I couldn’t do anymore of it. So that left Yoga-lates (again didn’t realise that this was different again than either yoga or pilates).
I signed up for the yoga first, and I have to admit I was very sceptical. I am not one for searching for my inner serenity or spending too long sitting still, so the idea of being trapped in a room smelling vaguely of farts and tofu, listening to an earth mother with a fake American accent waffle on while searching in vain for my inner goddess was not appealing, but I had my Mum’s wise words “split you in two” ringing in my ears, so I borrowed a yoga mat and got down to the class.
Well, I could not have been more wrong. What greeted me was the fragrance of clean clothes from the laundrette downstairs, a class of very normal ladies and an instructor with a broad Dublin accent who was more concerned with breathing through labour than finding inner peace. I was already beginning to relax. I have to admit there was still some nonsense about picturing your child’s love and your love for your child, which at 30+ weeks might be very desirable thing to do when you can feel the baby kick and move, but, at my mere 18 weeks, when I was not really feeling any different to my pre-pregnancy self, it felt very cloud-dancer-ish. Plus while we are never still, always moving from one position to another, I still thought I could do with something a little more energetic. That is when I stumbled onto aqua-pilates.
I have to admit, I did picture snorkels, 80’s music and preggos in spandex, and what greeted me was not much different. There was no music or breathing apparatus, but there were preggos in swimsuits with floats – which were used to give your body the sort of stretch that is only otherwise achieved on a medieval rack. It felt awesome. So much so that I was twitching like a junkie to get back in the pool and do it again. But while various knots and kinks were being worked out of muscles, there was a different sort of talk here, less about birthing and more about the times around that – the before and after; who was going to mind the other kids (or in our case animals) while you were in the hospital? Who was allowed visit in the first weeks? Would your partner get parental leave and if so for how long? I must have looked at the poor instructor like a rabbit caught in the headlights – we hadn’t discussed any of this stuff out loud! I got home and did the infamous “we need to talk” to my husband. As it turns out we didn’t really need to talk, although we had not discussed it out loud, we were both on the same page on all topics.
So Pilates and Yoga, would I recommend them to a pregnant friend? Are they worth the investment at a time when you are trying to save for cribs and prams and bottles and clothes? As a first time mother I am going to say yes. I was expecting to choose one over the other after giving both a try, but actually they do two different, although complimentary, things. I haven’t gotten to the birth part, so I cannot say if they will help the passing any, but in terms of good advice and building up a network of women in a similar situation, I think they are worth the couple of quid a week. Plus as every week goes on and the pregnancy feels more real, I hope I will begin to feel my love for the child and the child’s love for me and my love for the world and the worlds ….
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