Children. What a gift. A blessing. Those darling little cherubs that look up to us with those big, deep, blue eyes. They’re adorable, the light of our lives, the apple of our eyes. BUT DO THEY KNOW WHAT WE WENT THROUGH TO GET THEM HERE?! Maybe you’ve got a couple of kids, maybe you’re pregnant, or maybe you’re just interested to learn more – regardless, this month in The Awkward Truth blog and podcast, we are getting in touch with all things pregnancy and postpartum symptoms, and how they might relate back to exercise.

While by all means, I am in no way qualified to give advice on exercising during pregnancy (or pregnancy, for that matter), it was recommended to me by my doctor that exercising during pregnancy is deemed to be safe and healthy for both you and bub. It is, however, loosely suggested that you shouldn’t be taking up a new sport in early pregnancy – stick to the exercise you know and love. For me, this meant that pole and aerials were completely fine to participate in, I just had to work around my growing belly as the months progressed. I was also heading to the gym several times a week and continued to do so up until I was 5 months pregnant. I was still participating (although very minimally) in pole and aerials right up until the day before my girl entered the world. It’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is different, it’s up to you to do what feels comfortable and right with your body.

Pregnancy is a joyous time. Growing life inside of you is an exciting journey and bringing new life into this world is such a magical experience. The human body goes through so many changes during pregnancy and then again postpartum – some of which are definitely big positives! A surge in oestrogen can cause your hair to grow faster and fall out less, your nails can grow quicker and become stronger, your boobs grow and you may even be lucky enough to get that surge in your libido! But, before we finally get to experience these definite advantages of pregnancy, there’s likely to be a few symptoms you may not enjoy so much. Today, we’re delving more into the nitty gritty of all the not so nice things you might experience over the next 9+ months.

Maybe you can relate – you’ve taken a pregnancy test and you’ve received that Big Fat Positive. Congratulations, you’re pregnant!! But although you know that you’re pregnant, you just don’t quite feel pregnant yet. In fact, you feel completely normal. Bub is way too small – about the size of a sesame seed – for you to be able to sense movement just yet (I mean, right now she’s just a cluster of cells), your boobs look the same size, your tummy is normal, all you’ve got to show for this baby is a positive test and a missed period. So, you start to wish you had some symptoms, something that makes this experience feel authentic. Perhaps a bit of nausea or sore boobs would really help the reality sink in. My advice? BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!

Often the first indication that you’re expecting is pain or tenderness in the breasts. Or, maybe you’ve just hit your boob on your fonji down, we know that pesky trick can leave your breasts with all kinds of pain and bruising. However, breast tenderness in pregnancy can occur very early after conception. It takes place as a result of your changing body being invaded with a flood of hormones, the outcome of which has your boobs growing, developing and changing shape (and sometimes even nipple size), in order to prepare your body to nurture your unborn child. How crazy is it to think that your body is already working hard to ensure you can feed your baby?

Nausea and morning sickness. What. A. Bitch. I hope you’re lucky enough to skip right over this symptom, it can be absolutely brutal. If you do happen to get it, oh my goodness, I hope it ends with the first trimester for you. ‘Morning sickness’ is a very loose term for this symptom – take it from experience, it can happen any time of the day or night. It typically occurs around week 6 of pregnancy and usually subsides after the first trimester, however – and again, from experience – it can come back with a vengeance at any point in your pregnancy. Symptoms of morning sickness include vomiting and nausea and it’s said that 50-70% of women will experience it in the first trimester. It’s important to keep your fluids up, eat smaller, more regular meals and talk to your doctor if you expect you have a severe case. While morning sickness shouldn’t have an impact on your training, it’s completely okay if you’re not feeling up to it right now.

Perhaps one of the most understated pregnancy symptoms, something I was absolutely not prepared for, was fatigue. Don’t get me wrong, I expected to be tired – I was growing a tiny human after all – but I did not expect to be so totally caught off guard and completely thrown around by just being tired! Fatigue is what kicked me around the most in the first trimester, and to be honest, it had the greatest impact on my pole and aerials training. I was just so tired, all the time, and couldn’t bring myself to do more than teach each night. Add fatigue to the weeks of morning sickness, and I honestly spent days doing literally nothing but cuddle my puppy dog and watch episode upon episode of Glee.

Even if you don’t experience any of these symptoms, one thing you’re sure to notice is your growing belly! As your pregnancy progresses and your baby grows, you’ll start to ‘pop’ around weeks 12-16. You’re likely to show earlier if you have been pregnant before or are carrying multiples. It may be around this time that you start to slow down on some of the higher level tricks in your class, or find there are positions that are not comfortable to be holding. It’s important to move at your own pace and not push yourself.

There are so many more symptoms associated with pregnancy – spotting, dizziness, stretch marks, gestational diabetes, soreness in your hips, back and pelvis, the constant need to pee, the lack of sleep, the list goes on – some of which may hinder your pole or aerials training, some that you may be able to train through. To think that we survive all of these things before we even get to labour is crazy! Delivery, of course, is a whole other story. Whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section, you are a damn warrior.

I’m going to skip right over delivery and chat briefly about some of the things you’ll experience after your little one enters the world. Although, if you’ve made it this far, some things you may be interested in Googling (do so at your own risk) are:

  • What is a mucus plug?
  • What does 10cm dilated look like?
  • The transitional stage of labour.
  • The ring of fire.
  • How long does labour last?
  • Abdominal separation post pregnancy.
  • Afterbirth pains.

While you may have been experiencing colostrum leaking from your nipples for a few weeks or months prior to your babe’s birth, it will take a few days after your little one enters the world for your milk to come in. This may remind you a lot of those first few weeks of pregnancy, when your breasts were tender and sore. You may experience breast engorgement and can help alleviate the feeling by massaging your breasts in the shower. But did you know that milk comes from many tiny little holes in your nipple? Think of a let down like tipping over a watering can! When you are finally ready to exercise again, definitely pop in some breast pads. In my first exercise class postpartum, I was so paranoid about leaking through my shirt that I doubled up on breast pads.

It is typically advised that after having an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you wait until your 6 week checkup and an okay from your doctor, to get back into your usual exercise routine. Light exercise, however, is recommended once you are feeling up to it. For delivery via c-section, the wait time is longer – you have just had major abdominal surgery after all. It’s recommended that you start light exercise 6 to 8 weeks post birth, but wait until 3 to 4 months after your caesarian to get back to a high impact exercise regime. Always consult your doctor before returning to pole or aerials and make sure to fill your instructor in on their recommendations.

It’s so crazy to think that our bodies can do so much in such a short amount of time. From producing an egg, to developing and growing a tiny little human, housing them, nourishing them and then knowing when the right time is for that little human to enter the world, guiding them out and then proceeding to nourish them from the outside – our bodies are incredible. We celebrate our bodies for what they can do in our pole and aerials classes, it’s time to celebrate them for being able to bring life into this world! This Mother’s Day, and everyday, hug your Mum a little bit tighter and thank her for what she went through to get you here.

Talanna Buckley