...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Okay, I’m doing it. I’m answering the ‘How do you stay fit while pregnant?‘ question. As an added *bonus* {i.e. comedic relief} I’m including real life photos…of me…7 months pregnant…working out…in our blah apartment…with my three-year-old assistant. I’m embarrassed already.

First up, my supplies. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t include a pricey gym membership, a hot personal trainer, fancy exercise machines or a nanny to watch the kids.

1 – Two supportive pillows to prop my head higher than my heart for certain exercises.

2 – A pair of Embark 5-lb weights I bought at Target.

3 – The Perfect Pregnancy Workout {TPPW} Volume 1: Sculpting video I bought on Amazon.

4 – A step stool borrowed from my kids’ bathroom.

5 – A chair – not shown.

In all, my supplies cost me less than $30 {free weights + video} about 4 months ago. That’s right. What I’m about to show you is what I’ve been doing three times per week since the end of my first trimester. Before then, I was working out at a local gym ~2 times per week, mostly strength training and a little cardio. But with baby #3 on the way unexpectedly, a renovation in the works, and, hopefully, a career change in my future, I figured now was as good a time as any to cut my gym membership from the budget and find a more affordable way to exercise.

I work out in our ~980 sq ft apartment. No home gym here.

I play the video on my laptop in the middle of the living room floor. I prefer to workout in the morning after I get Layne off to school and it’s just me and Everett. But sometimes, I will wake up early on a Saturday or Sunday to squeeze in a session. It just depends what’s going on that week.

{step ups on the stool}

Oh, and I workout barefoot. It’s my personal preference. I just feel more grounded, balanced without socks and shoes on.

I love TPPW. I read reviews on a bunch of prenatal exercise videos on Amazon and this one appealed to me most. I was looking for a workout to maintain muscle tone, stamina and strength during my pregnancy. I want to be strong for labor and delivery this time around.

{pulls and extensions using free weights and a chair for balance}

You see, my last labor {nearly 4 years ago with Everett} was insane. 48 minutes from first contraction to baby’s arrival. That might sound nice but let me tell you it wasn’t. It was 15 hours worth of labor and pain crammed into a very intense, very scary 48 minutes. We barely made it to a hospital and I was completely not in control of the pain, my body or the situation. Not to mention that serious complications – for mother or baby – can arise due to such a short labor. We were quite lucky. Everett and I made it through without any complications. My doctor says it’s likely I will experience precipitous labor and delivery again, so I want to be as strong as possible to endure another natural, non-medicated childbirth.

{extensions with free weights}

TPPW is about 45 minutes long including the warm up and cool down sessions. The pregnant instructor is a former Cirque du Soleil acrobat who comes across as kind and calm – not in your face. The workout is not easy but it’s not impossible either. Because my body is changing so much, so rapidly, each workout gets a little more difficult for me. But in a good way. There are different options {beginner, intermediate, advanced} for certain exercises depending on your level of athleticism. I’ve yet to master the advanced versions of shoulder dips and side crunches. Oh, the side crunches. I think they’re my least favorite thing on the entire video.

So, where is Everett during all of this? Here’s my lovely assistant now…

{reverse lunges using the chair for balance}

Notice Everett is still in his pj’s. I get about 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted workout time before Everett wants in on the action. I don’t mind though. I think it’s important for kids to see their parents being active. Plus, I end up laughing and smiling a lot more during my workout than I would otherwise. Yes, every once in a while I do have to pause the video to get Everett a snack or something but he’s usually pretty good at waiting until I’m done. Like I said, no nanny.

{propped up on pillows for small ab movements}

I love it when he gets right down with me and mimics my movements.

{warm up stretching}

He always lets me know when I don’t do a movement exactly like the woman on the video. By far, my favorite exercises are the shoulder dips. I swear I’m gonna conquer the advanced version of the shoulder dips before this baby is born. It’s a personal goal.

{shoulder dips}

One more thing I’d like to mention. Kegels. I think they’re important and this video makes you do ’em. And so, yes, there are moments when you are staring the instructor in the face as she practices her Kegels and you practice yours. At first, it’s slightly uncomfortable {assuming you’ve never stared a complete stranger in the face whilst knowingly doing Kegels simultaneously} then it’s comical for a while. Eventually, it becomes just another part of the workout but sometimes I do find myself thinking, ‘Doesn’t she find it odd that lots of people are watching her while she contracts and relaxes her vaginal muscles?’ But 6 seconds later I’m thinking, ‘Her lip gloss looks nice.’ That’s how my pregnancy brain works nowadays. I’m easily distracted.

{Hello. These are our muscles and the faces we make when we flex them. Welcome to the gun show.}

Anyhow, doing this workout three times weekly does make me feel stronger and give me some confidence going into what I’m assuming will be another intense, non-medicated childbirth experience. I wish I would have found it 7 years ago when I was prego with our first child. I did prenatal water aerobics 2 times per week throughout my first pregnancy which I liked but, honestly, it was a little too easy for me. During my second pregnancy I skipped working out all together. During that pregnancy we were selling our house in Illinois by owner and moving {sound familiar??} across state lines. I thought things were too hectic to worry about exercising. Whew. Little did I know…

Now, I have two kids, a blog, a house under renovation + an apartment, am working more hours at my real job than I ever have since having kids {more on that later} and was told by my OB just today that I’m anemic {so that’s why I’ve been so freakishly exhausted the past few weeks!} BUT…I’m making prenatal exercise a priority. Because it’s important to me. I always feel better after I complete a workout. And, surprisingly, I end up getting more stuff done on the days I work out. It’s funny how putting aside one hour for working out can produce hours of productivity later. No joke.

So here’s my question for you. I think I’ve got the physical strength under my belt for labor and delivery but I’d like to add some visualization techniques to my coping-with-drug-free-childbirth bag. I practiced HypBirth during my other two pregnancies but wasn’t able to utilize any of the methods during my precipitous labor. Things just progressed waaaaay too quickly for me to even get in the HypBirth mindset. Any suggestions for childbirth visualization techniques that could be implemented during a precipitous labor? I’d love to hear ’em.

I guess if all else fails, Everett could always be my labor coach. Ha!

FYI – I was not compensated in any way to mention the products above. I’m just sharing what works for me! Please seek approval from your doctor before trying any form of prenatal exercise.

images: all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

68 Comments

20.January.2012

Amazingly, beautiful post, I loved the pictures of you and your boy. You are so rich…in love. My best advice for labor, insist on the epidural right away, don’t try to wait it out and see If you can do it naturally. Your post…still smiling…so much joy. BEAUTIFUL Family!!!

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20.January.2012

so refreshing and too cute with your boy in on it. do you have a workout video recommendation for some one who is not pregnant? I would love to get started on something without a gym pass as well.

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20.January.2012

While I have no knowledge about anything related to pregnancies, I think it’s great that you’re maintaining your health – it’s so important. Sorry to hear about your anemia, but if you happen to like black beans, then they’re a great source of iron. I use a Gwyneth
Paltrow recipe that’s simple and tasty: a few slices of onions, 1 smashed garlic clove, 4 sprigs of coriander, some EVOO, and a pinch of salt. I hope this pregnancy will be smoother.

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20.January.2012

You are amazing, strong and beautiful. A focal point is a useful tool during labor. It could be a photo or anything that is meaningful to you. I would like to suggest you use this video of you and your son working toward a strong body for delivery. As you focus (as best you can) visualize you and your son doing this for a safe delivery, a strong body for the baby, and your immense love for your family; that this is why you take good care of yourself. Focus on gratitude of your son for “working out” with you, and anything related and knowing that the delivery will be over quickly and a new precious life will be in your arms. Hope this helps. Just suggestions. I know you will do what is best for you.

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20.January.2012

Great shots with you and Everett! What a fun memory to have. :) I’ve not had children, but I was born in 50 mins start to finish. The doc told my mom she could shout out any cuss word she wanted to while she was delivering me and her mind completely blanked. She couldn’t think of. a. single. one! Apparently, that technique doesn’t work. Blessings!

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20.January.2012

I absolutely LOVE that last picture; it is precious!! I think it’s great that you are working out; I worked out while pregnant with my second one and I could always tell a difference in how I felt on days when I worked out. And it definitely helped me bounce back after delivery. Thanks for sharing; this motivates me to get my not pregnant butt off the couch! :-)

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20.January.2012

Woot! My energy and exercise went completely down the drain the first time around. My goal with fitness lately has been solely fixed on being in good shape for the second pregnancy (hopefully soon) and maintaining an fitness routine during pregnancy. Especially with kids, it’s so important to still have energy to be with them and have a clean(ish) house.

My labor was 23 loooong hours of unmedicated back labor. Ouch… and I would do it again. I took a birth class based off the book Birthing From Within. I don’t know that the same things could work for 45 minute intense labors though. What really helped me was that I had a few things I said over and over in my head. (And over and over and over.) Things like “we are a team–we will labor together, we will birth together”. Or “breathe!” Images like when you drop a pebble in a lake and the circles get bigger helped to imagine the cervix getting bigger. And thinking of mazes. You can run into a dead end and feel all is lost, but there’s always a way out. My husband was so calm outwardly that it really helped calm me sometimes. He was such a huge source of strength for me. (He later told me that he was totally freaking out inside because of how much pain I was going through that he couldn’t help me with.)

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20.January.2012

Isin’t it just crazy how working out can give you so much energy to do more? I used to be a come home from work and plop on the couch person, but since I started going to the gym a couple weeks ago every day I come home after working out and get things done! I actaully make a good dinner, I re-organized my kitchen cabinets, painted a door, lots of stuff!
Kudos to you for keeping fit while pregnant and taking care of the little!

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20.January.2012

This is so freakin’ adorable!!! Thanks for sharing (and you look amazing in these photographs). I’ll definitely be bookmarking this post for future reference when I’m pregnant. You’re such an inspiration for family/work balance and success.

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20.January.2012

He is adorable. Those are great photos.

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20.January.2012

Dana, I’m getting induced on Monday with my own #3, and I did zero working out this pregnancy. I am almost fearful because of it! The only thing I did do was my kegels and squats. I’ve had serious bladder issues this pregnancy, and the doc said sometimes kegels aren’t enough. He suggested squats or plie’s to help strengthen the pelvic floor. I worked out with both of the other two, and still gained 30 lbs. This pregnancy though I’m up 12 lbs, and that’s it! Good luck the rest of your pregnancy!

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20.January.2012

I only have one baby but had a pretty fast labor too..
Without any sort of specific plan for pain management, I found myself visualizing my daughter’s, rather than my, birth experience. I was more focused on her progress than my discomfort. Is that weird to share on the internet? The other thing I thought about were really difficult races I’ve run, I kept thinking about how good I’d feel at the end of those even if they were painful during the race – maybe try to think of labor as one of your workouts?

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20.January.2012

You look like me & my helper trying to work out, only I’m not 7 months pregnant, LOL!
I did prenatal Yoga during the later half of my pregnancy and walked every day (at work around downtown and at home about 1 to 2 miles). I could do the advanced version of the prenatal Yoga until the end and it really helped – a lot. My labor was fast too, but not as fast as yours ;). Our midwife advised us to stay home until my contractions were 3 minutes apart, but at that point everything went really quickly. After a 22 minute car ride, being in serious pain because I was trying NOT to push, and then another 20 minutes of labor/pushing my little boy was born. The only thing that helped during that last 20 minutes laying in a very quiet room was the midwives were trying to fill up the birthing tub because I wanted a water birth; HA, ha there was just no way! But the sound of running water really helped. My entire pregnancy I couldn’t stand the thought of music playing – it just annoyed me. So if you aren’t interested in music either maybe you could get some sounds of water running or the ocean if you think that would help.
The only other mental exercise that worked to help prepare me was one our birthing coach had us do during class. Take a small bowl filled up with ice cubes (HH can do this with you too), hold the ice cubes in your hand and try not to use any breathing techniques or anything for a minute. Then try it again and you can use coping techniques like breathing deeply or whatever, and this time have your boys or HH start to bother/pestering you and hold the ice for a little longer. Keep building the length of time (switching hands) holding the ice and the intensity of someone/something annoying you. This should help you mentally prepare to cope with the added stress of labor. Sorry this comment turned into a book!

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20.January.2012

You just motivated me to put my walking video in. Thanks. I am going to exercise right now!

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20.January.2012

I’ve had one unmedicated, natural childbirth and one with a spinal block (kind of like an epidural, but doesn’t last very long at all.) I’m not a big visualization person, but during my first long and natural labor, I had a mantra. First on the mantra was “this is work my body was meant to do.” Basically, we women are designed to birth babies. Second on the mantra was “focused relaxation.” This is the hard part, because it’s very mental and you have to keep you mind from getting away from you. I totally forgot about this for my second birth which is why I ended up with the spinal block. But, focussing your mind on relaxing into the pain, which is very hard to do, is the only thing that eases the pain. Congrats on making exercise a priority. Wish I had done that for both of mine. Good luck! You’ll do great!

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20.January.2012

Having gone through four deliveries I know what you mean about the pain. I had two long, induced, and medicated and two short one completely natural and the other I got my epidural, they rolled me over and told me to push! I know that the fast labor is very scary and painful, but having done it both ways, though not quite so quick, not having an epidural really speeds up your recovery time. The nurses and I kept up a dialog about getting my husband snipped, with no pain meds, at that stage it was a nice thought! :) Sorry for the overshare! But seriously, on my last delivery, I had severe back pain for a week from my epidural, and with my first, I had a 4″ square numb spot on my leg for almost a year. You can do this Dana! I pray that you get at least a few hour labor with this one :)

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I love your little workout buddy, I have two little girls who do the same with me. It always makes me smile when they try to do the movements with me, and then sometimes spontaniously throughout the day I’ll catch them ‘working out’ so cute, and reminds me of what a good example I am setting for them, as you are for your kids.
As far as labour is concerned, none of mine have been precipitous, but they have been natural and drug free. What worked for me was to only think about one contraction at a time, focus on breathing through it. I just kept telling myself that the only thing I had to think about was this one minute, just getting through this one minute…it became a mantra which I repeated to myself and helped me lots…oh and one of my labour and delivery nurses told me it was okay to swear…and swear I did…in fact my mom was heard to be apologizing to the staff for my language from the waiting room…helped though :o)
Happy Friday!

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replied on January 21st, 2012

Jo – I don’t normally swear but I was cussing like a sailor during my last birth experience! There was a family sitting in the labor & delivery waiting area when I was wheeled past just coming up from the ER. I was swearing my heart out. Everett was born less than 10 minutes later, so I was wheeled back past the waiting family again shortly after with a huge smile on my face…and no more cussing. They looked right at me and said, “Feel better?” I said yes. They just laughed.

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20.January.2012

I took a “Birthing from Within” class when I was pregnant. I know many people find it a bit too touchy feely (they had us make art about our feelings, e.g.) but I found it very valuable for my homebirth. They practice several different “perception” management techniques by having you hold an ice cube in your hand and visualize different ways of dealing with the discomfort. Of course the pain of holding an ice cube isn’t like a contraction, but what matters is learning how to think about what you are going through. It’s all very Matrix–is the spoon bending, or is your MIND bending? :) You don’t have to take a class–there is a great Birthing from Within book that I checked out of the library and read while I was taking the class.

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20.January.2012

The Bradley method emphasizes complete relaxation – curling into your natural sleeping position, closing your eyes, and focusing on relaxing every muscle in your body from your eyes to your toes. I think it is a great approach because pain definitely increases when we become tense. Also, one breathing tip that helped me was to breathe with your diaphragm as if you were inflating an inner tube that you were wearing around your waist.

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20.January.2012

No advice, I just wanted to say how FANTASTIC you look. You are absolutely radiant & completely TONED. There is no reason for you to be self-conscioius of these pictures! I’d blow them up and frame them if I looked that good working out, and I’m not even pregnant! Good luck with everything!

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20.January.2012

Have you read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth? I don’t remember taking specific breathing exercises from it, but the overall positive tone on unmedicated births, especially in the personal stories, greatly helped me through mine. The book made me feel very empowered, much more so than any hospital birthing class did.

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20.January.2012

It kind of blows my mind that in the time that you take to do this workout video, your body also went through almost (just 3 minutes shy) the ENTIRE labor and delivery.

My second came in 70 minutes from dead sleep to the doctor catching him. The doctor didn’t even take his coat or hat off. And I thought that was freakishly fast. I am praying that number three takes a little more time. It feels like too much for the body (and mind) to take on at once.

That being said, you will do great. Our bodies are incredible things!

This inspires me to work out more- thanks for the tips!

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20.January.2012

My labor was also extremely short and extremely intense. I couldn’t really do anything other than breathe through the contractions, and I went from having none to them being only 1.5 minutes apart, so I had no real downtime to focus on what was going on around me or try any other techniques. Because I’m likely to have that happen again this time (I’m due a couple of weeks after you), this time I’ll be sure that my husband knows exactly what I want to know and do at each point so that I don’t have to worry about anything other than getting through it. It threw me off when someone would try to ask me questions or whether I wanted to move at all. I guess my technique, if I even had one, was to go into my own little world, repeating to myself, “I can do this, I can do this” and just keep breathing. Sorry that’s not very helpful!

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20.January.2012

I had a 12 hour labor and took a plain old lamaze class. Worked wonderful for me. I suggest you take some time every day to meditate and control your breathing rhythmically. I use to do it just before I went to bed. I would only concentrate on my goal and getting through the pain.

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20.January.2012

You look great!

I so agree about letting your kids watch you work out. It’s just another good behavior to model. It’s also cute to see them try out the moves.

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20.January.2012

Hi Dana! Do you have any other blogs you are following besides those listed on your side panel?

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20.January.2012

Well, you look wonderful. It’s very inspiring. And I also love to do videos at home barefoot. Somehow, it makes it seem more relaxed to me.

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20.January.2012

You look amazing!

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20.January.2012

I have to say this is one of my favorite posts from you, with Everett in it doing your workout with you. It is the cutest thing!

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20.January.2012

Aw, ya’ll are so cute! My three kids like to work out with me when I do my P90X workouts.
I had two homebirths, but I can’t really help with the visualization, because for me focusing on the pain makes it more manageable. But my midwives suggested visualizing a flower opening. I can suggest that if you make noise during contractions (who doesn’t?) it’s best to make them a low pitch because it relaxes your muscles instead of the high pitched shrieks that make you tense.

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20.January.2012

Great to see you working out and glad to hear that your pregnancy is going well.

I have two kids and delivered both without any pain meds (one induced, one natural) – although they were not precipitous. I practiced yoga before getting pregnant and continued with prenatal yoga as much as I could. The focus on breathing and relaxation was helpful to me during my pregnancy (I suffered from hyperemesis). I learned from my first labor to remember this when I started to tense with contractions. I also found “Ina Mae’s Guide to Natural Childbirth” helpful. Some of it was a bit out there for me, but the best piece of advice and something I kept with me through both births was that labor was something that I was doing, not something that was happening to me. This reminded me of my active role in the labor and might help if you have a fast labor. Other than that, I always reminded myself that labor would end. For me, a couple of days (or hours) of severe pain in comparison to 9 months of nausea, vomiting and not being able to eat, work or take care of my kids was doable.

Good Luck! It is all worth it in the end.

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20.January.2012

The pictures are so cute in this post, Everett is a doll. Thanks for the heads up about this video… I never found one I really liked with my last pregnancy and would like to do better next round. I think it helps a TON with recovery if you are strong to begin with. Anyway, thanks again!

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20.January.2012

Those are the sweetest pictures! I wish I had more of my pregnant self with my firstborn!
Anyway, the visualization I used for pain management had nothing to do with really being in the moment. It was to mentally tour my grandparents house. I spent a couple of weeks there every summer as a child and it’s a place I knew well and felt loved and safe. During contractions I tried to visualize every detail I could— what the kitchen floor looked like, the smell of my grandma’s pork chops, what the coffee pot sounded like, how many pots of violets were on the window sill, how the space felt to be in— you get the idea. I thought I’d post this because you are obviously into places! and you too might have some favorite place you could tour in your head, too. Best wishes for a great delivery!

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20.January.2012

I know what you mean! Anytime I go on a run i am much more likely to come home and clean the whole house, and bake cookies, and mow the yard…and way more that I wouldn’t have done that day if I hadn’t had that endorphin release from working out!

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20.January.2012

You look so fit! Have you been working out your entire pregnancy? I am 21 weeks pregnant and need help with this.

Thanks for sharing!

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replied on January 21st, 2012

Tiffany – I did my regular 2x per week gym workout for the first trimester and have been doing TPPW since then. So, yes, I have been working out from the get-go. Pregnant or not, I always feel better when I work out regularly.

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20.January.2012

My second was really fast, too. Less than 90 minutes, and half of that, I was in denial about being in labour. So by the time I actually agreed with what was happening, we left for the hospital and my son was born a few minutes after arrival. So much for a waterbirth!
I actually think that 2 things helped me through that (because as you know, the speed can be a little scary). My son was born in Germany, and my OB recommended acupuncture for the 4 weeks before my guess date. I also did a lot of hypnobirthing stuff and visualization before the birth and that created a certain mindset, too. I didn’t have much time to use it during active labour, but I think things could have been much worse, much more tense and much more out of balance.
Best of birthing thoughts coming your way.

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20.January.2012

Totally off topic, but I see you have a cow skin rug. Is that the one from IKEA? How do you like it and how does it hold up in a household with kids? I don’t have kids, but I have a dog. I am just wondering how easily it is to care for. Thanks!
And you look terrific!!! :-)

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replied on January 21st, 2012

Jillian – We love our IKEA cowhide. The kids might like it more than me even. I don’t use a rug pad underneath so a few of the edges curl up sometimes but I don’t mind. I just vacuum the rug on a low setting once weekly or every other week. I caught a lot of flack in blogland last year when I purchased this cowhide, so please don’t think that I’m pushing my readers to buy/consume products that promote animal cruelty. The rug was exactly what I was looking for and the price was great, so I bought it.

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20.January.2012

Thank you for sharing this…you’ve inspired me to add strength training into my pregnancy workouts too (instead of just walking).

With my first pregnancy I had a quick labor and delivery too (not as quick as you though!) and chose to have a natural birth. I had gone to Bradley Method classes, but I found that those mostly just made me feel super informed about the birthing process and what to expect and I went into labor feeling super confident and saying ‘bring it on!’. I found that once I was in my hard labor (most of which was done in the car during heavy rush hour traffic) that my technique of choice was very deep, heavy breathing. During a difficult contraction I would just close my eyes, curl into fetal position, and begin very rythmic breathing like 4 counts in, 4 counts out with a loud breath out through my mouth. It was all very zen-like and controlled. Like another reader said, I almost saw the labor as a sort of workout and approached the pain like I would during a hard set of shoulder presses or the hardest part of a run….knowing that the intense pain would soon let up in less than a minute. Anyways, I hope that helped somewhat. That is what worked for me last time round and I hope it will work again with my next pregnancy (due in July). Thanks again for sharing this fitness post with us and being a source of inspiration. You look fantastic!!!!

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20.January.2012

Hi Dana – I had three super quick natural childbirths. I know just what you mean about the intensity. I went to a Hypnobirthing class, but the visualizations never worked for me either…what did work was reframing “contraction” as “surge” and relaxing, through breath, so as not to focus on the pain. At one point during the birth of my middle child, I had this weird out of body experience where I could see myself laboring from a vantage point on the ceiling, tensing during contractions and feeling a lot of pain. And my ceiling self told my laboring self, “Hey, relax. You’ve got this.” And I did. You will too.

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20.January.2012

You SO look better than I EVER did with either of my pregnancies. I was wandering around herding puppies…about 30 of them each time I was preggo. It was slightly comical…really…no…really. You had to see me waddling with about 8 or 9 pups hanging from my vet scrubs…while the others tried their darndest to join their siblings. Did I mention they were military working dogs? No?…Well…they were. So on I waddled and they just hung.
Anyways…you look great!

I will admit, I was a total weiner when it came to my first pregnacy. I went into labor at 1 am and whined the whole time until I could get a epi around 5 am. The second time, I felt so much more in control, even though hubby was over an hour away and my contractions were coming every 3 min…fun…NOT. But I found that if I leaned over the couch and just let my belly hang,…and I mean HANG…and then rocked my hips back and forth as I breathed in and out slowly…I felt little to no pain. It was actually fantastic. I was amazed. So that’s my suggestion…:)

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20.January.2012

I have 5 children. I had an epidural with my first baby and it scared me to death so I vowed to never to do it again. My second was born completely naturally. (I should point out here that I have extremely tense muscles. I think it’s genetic. My lack of flexibility is mind boggling and I have a hard time relaxing my muscles so I was seriously wondering how I was still conscious through the intense pain. In spite of all that, I still preferred the natural birth by a long shot.) My 3rd was breach so I underwent an external cephalic version in which they successfully flipped him so he could born vaginally BUT the procedure required me to be prepped for a c-section, epidural and all. So with my 4th baby I wanted to go natural again and really tried to do a hypnobirth. I didn’t attend the class (notice that I already had 3 kids; also, my husband was deployed at the time) but I did read the book completely hounded a couple friends who had taken the class. Baby #4 was born naturally but the hypnobirthing part was a complete disaster. My brain really doesn’t work that way.

Ok, so now that you know my whole life story (which has hopefully established my credibility!), with my 5th baby, I discovered Active Birth by Janet Balaskas. It was AMAZING! I loved it!!! I really cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it felt to just use my body and MOVE and make noise and do whatever felt right at that moment. I wasn’t trying to imagine colors or go to any happy peaceful place. I was completely in the moment and in total control. Don’t get me wrong, it was still painful, but completely manageable. (And speaking of speedy labors, when my water broke, I was not contracting at all. I didn’t start contracting for a good 45 minutes to an hour later-post water breakage contractions are the worst!-and he was born about 2 hours after my water broke. Not as fast as your labor but pretty close.)

Please, please, please read Active Birth by Janet Balaskas. I really think it will be a good fit for you just like it was for me. Also, I didn’t learn about it until I was over 8 months pregnant. I think I had about 3 weeks to read it and practice it and it still worked fabulously.

Good luck!!!

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replied on January 21st, 2012

Tara – I’m looking into Active Birth!

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20.January.2012

I, too, had an extremely fast second birth and if we were to have another child I hope it wouldn’t be as fast because I did feel a bit “disconnected” after delivery. I couldn’t believe I had a daughter in my hands as my 17 month old watched in possibly complete confusion :)

For visualizing, I used my midwife’s advice, she said take each contraction one at a time. As you are contracting invision your pelvis opening and relaxing so that the baby moves down. She also said don’t scream, channel your energy into heavy long gutteral breaths/moans (didn’t understand that until I was transitioning and I literally sounded like a moaning cow but it was very relaxing), when the contraction is over, just relax to point of near sleep, even if a 60 second power nap. When I went into labor with #2, I knew something was different because it came natural to moan and that’s when I realized I was progressing much faster. One contraction at a time, then rest in between.

Oh! And pushing while relaxing your vaginal muscles is a little hard (took a bit to master with the first) but nailed with the 2nd, is using your transverse abdominals. Kind of like sucking in your gut but still breathing at the same time. It keeps you from “clenching” and damaging down there. You can practice now by contracting your transverse abdominals and allowing your muscles to contract all the way down to your pelvis. Start from the top and work you abs down.

Blessings, you are doing more than fine :)

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replied on January 21st, 2012

Amber – Thanks so much for the advice! I literally had no rest time in between intense contractions with Everett. They came one right on top of the other. I had no time to regroup and compose from one contraction to the next. And as for ‘pushing’ I was literally holding the baby in, waiting for a doctor to rush into my room at which point I just relaxed and the baby came out. I never did push. Since my first labor was 14+ hours, I was totally unprepared for a such a quick labor the second time around. I’m hoping just to be more prepared this time – whether its 45 minutes or 40 hours. I appreciate your advice!

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20.January.2012

Hey Dana-Wish I had stayed more in shape with my pregnancies. I have had 4 natural deliveries, with contractions that I would have all day and then the intense-can’t talk through these things-contractions for (varied w each kid)2-6 hours. I read a hypno birthing book before my first was born, but I don’t know, I think it was my stubbornness more than anything that got me through. The main takeaway from it though I still have remembered through all 4 is not so much visualization, but rather telling myself repeating through my head through the contraction “This contraction is moving the baby down, this contraction is bringing the baby”, etc. It sounds crazy until you are in labor but I just tryed to tell myself that the contractions were doing something productive, there is a reason for this intense pain! That and a hot shower..in there pretty much until I had to push…
and I had to be induced with my 3rd one…a girl(my only girl)..stubborn..didn’t want to come out…
oh and I am a wimp..so for sure you can do it!
sorry for the long comment

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21.January.2012

Hi Dana, I’m a long time reader and fan but have never commented until now. I absolutely loved this post!! :) You are adorable and a true inspiration. Its off subject but I just wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired me to downsize in order to pursue a life-long dream of mine. I can relate to you as a working mom, your design style/taste and healthy lifestyle. Thanks for your wonderful blog!!

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21.January.2012

That last story is very funny ! I don’t have kids, so I don’t have any delivery advices BUT, as far as anemia is concerned … red meat (and liver, I know, we french people eat weird things…), black beans, lentils, spinach, beetroot (even more beetroot juice), almonds, raisins, honey, yoghurts, apples … those are great sources of iron !
Take care, and one day after another !

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21.January.2012

I’ve never been pregnant but I highly recommend yoga for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Any of the standing side poses or triangle poses and warrior poses, but I think the most effective is the wide-legged forward bend and the seated lotus position. The forward bend might be dangerous if you’re pregnant– there might be a variation for it though–definitely give it a try after you have the baby. This is definitely TMI but doing yoga also improves the ol’ sex life. I think something about the poses and how they strengthen all the muscles in that area, it’s much more effective than just kegels. I don’t know, they also wrote the Kama Sutra, there must be something to it.

The breathing technique in yoga (kundalini and ujjayi) definitely helps dealing with pain and stress. It’s come in handy for me when I’ve had really bad menstrual cramps… or get really pissed off by something, like getting cut off in traffic.

I’m not an expert at all, just been practicing for a few years. This site seems to have some good info: http://www.yogajournal.com/

Hope you have a safe, healthy delivery! And I *love* your blog!

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21.January.2012

I had two unmedicated births and they were amazing. I was never on the “get the epidural, even if you don’t need it” boat. To each their own :)

I just wanted to second the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It was my birthing bible and I still look back on it once in awhile just because some of the stories are so beautiful. One visualization that I took from that book that helped me was to envision a cave filling with water during a contraction; at the peak of the contraction, the cave is full, and then the water moves out as the contraction fades.

I have no idea why, but it helped me stay calm and manage the pain. Good luck! You look wonderful!

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Good for you! And I just want to mention something that really worked for my sister. She just had her 4th baby and her #3 was the same, fast and furious. This time around she used HYPNOBIRTH, a class that teaches you to focus and get through labour in a calm manner. It worked amazingly, she had a 2 hour labour this time and didn’t feel crazy pain until the head crowned, but then there isn’t really anything that can help that. I am a labour and delivery nurse (8yrs) and I have seen this work REALLY well. You should give it a try!

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21.January.2012

Dana-
You look great! You should be proud of yourself! Just a few thoughts, (I’m a Labor and Delivery nurse) about birth after a crazy precipitous one. Usually, the first one is average 12-24 hours. Sounds like your first one was just that. Then, number 2 comes…That one will get you every time. See, people had the long labor with #1, so they assume #2 will be just as long, wrong! If you ever hear of someone delivering in their car, or in the ambulance, it’s usually #2. Most of the babies I have to catch, (cause the doc didn’t come in time) were #2. What I do with patients who are going like gang busters is get down close to the side of their head. Usually the room is going nuts, so I’m very quiet and calm with them. Most of the time, patients say afterwards that it’s easier to focus on someone speaking low and calm when there is chaos around you. I tell them to just “go limp”, let the contractions take you and try to not fight them. Then, control is the name of the game. It’s important to try and not have the baby come flying out, but sometimes the baby is determined! Also, don’t be surprised if your 3rd is not as crazy as you’re fearing. See, after people have insane delivery #2, they are expecting crazy insane #3. But, 3rd babies seem to have a funny way of doing their own thing. So, don’t be surprised if you have a chance to be a little more in control with #3. But, you might be one of those women who have fast deliveries. Sometimes, the OB’s will induce those patients just to have a little more control of the situation. But, I would tell your hubby to try and stay calm, speak low, calm and stay close where you can focus on his voice, and tune out the insanity around you. Just some thoughts. Sorry it’s long! :) You’ll do great and I can’t wait to see pictures. Also, I am loving watching your house reno and living vicariously. I love your floors and I used your advice to get some flooring through Build Direct. Had a great experience. Did you know that Build Direct goes through ebates as well? I found that out just after I purchased the floors, and then figured out I could have gotten a 5% rebate from ebates. I was a little nauseous. But, I’ll know better next time. Good luck!
Lauren B.

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replied on January 22nd, 2012

Lauren B – Such good advice! I’m hoping #3 takes a little longer than #2 ;)

And who knew about those ebates???!!! Not me! Thanks for sharing.

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21.January.2012

Kudos to you for being so deliberate with exercise during pregnancy! My first pregnancy started out great (lots of exercise and healthy eating), but the exhaustion quickly took over it required a huge amount of effort just to get out of the bed. I definitely had plans to incorporate visualization into my labour, but like yours, mine came on fast and strong (3 hours total). I was thinking two thoughts:

1) I’m going to die. Ok, I’m probably not going to die, I’m just going to endure a maximum of two days of this pain (ahem, discomfort, as my midwifes call it). Two days. Then I get to hold a beautiful baby in my arms and love her forever.

2) Don’t swear at loving husband. Say please and thank you throughout labour.
*** I really wanted my husband to feel like a part of the team, and focusing on being kind helped to keep me calm. However, I don’t think I’d have been as amiable had my labour actually lasted two days.

One other thing — my daughter was born at a birthing centre, which was a quaint old building attached to a church. The lighting was dim, the room was warm — it felt safe and homey. I definitely think the atmosphere can have an dramatic effect on your comfort and therefore the delivery.

Good luck!

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