Jenny had been my trainer for two years prior to my pregnancy. I had consistently trained with her one to two times per week through rigorous strength and endurance training programs. These programs progressed in levels of difficulty over time and included calisthenics, barbell and free weights activities. My training focused primarily on core stability, explosive power and full range of movements. Jenny committed to providing me fun and challenging training programs that suited my physical and mental needs. Jenny was well aware that I had chronic heart and kidney issues and always modified my programs as per my health needs.
Once I found out that I was pregnant, I quickly informed Jenny since my training was important to me and my pregnancy was considered “high risk.” This meant that I needed close monitoring with multiple medical specialists, and a balanced lifestyle with exercise and healthy diet. Thus, my goals for training with Jenny changed abruptly to include light physical activity with minimal weight lifting so as to decrease the workload on the major organs and allow room for weight gain. At every workout session, Jenny carefully monitored my heart rate and blood pressure at the beginning, during and after every exercise and consistently monitored my perceived stress level. I learned to listen to my body - whenever I felt that my heart was racing or I was fatigued, we postponed any physical activity or decreased the level of my effort. Jenny and I were both flexible and trained only to the level that was tolerable for me. There were a lot of options for light exercise in Toronto including walking, swimming or yoga, but I preferred training at the gym with Jenny since I needed close support and guidance. With enthusiasm, I continued to train once a week with Jenny during my first trimester but only according to recommendations from my medical team. After three months, my pregnancy stressed my heart and I was medically required to completely stop exercising.
I did not train for the next six months. However, my training with Jenny was extremely helpful during labour and delivery. If I had not been mentally and physically active at the beginning of the pregnancy, I would have not been able to deliver my daughter safely and quickly. With a high risk pregnancy, C-sections are common but this method of delivery is not ideal due to blood loss and additional stress on major organs. I was warned that I may need to deliver via C-section but because of how great of a “pusher” I was with a strong core and leg power, I was able to avoid any surgical delivery methods. My husband and I were extremely pleased with how smooth the delivery process went and I am certain that this was due to my training with Jenny prior to and during my pregnancy.
Although my pregnancy was considered high risk and I went through preeclampsia, my medical team allowed me to return to training with Jenny after 5 weeks postpartum mainly due to the ease of delivering my daughter. My heart and kidneys slowly recovered and I experienced little postpartum pain. However, my joints were very lax; and thus Jenny and I focused mainly on core stability and avoided heavy lifting or flexibility training.
For myself, training has always been specific and met my personal needs. This was especially true during my pregnancy and postpartum period. I find that exercising with a trainer who understands your needs is important to ensure safety during such a special time. I imagine that most pregnant women want to provide the best health for their unborn child, and to me, sufficient exercise at a suitable level is vital. I wanted to and still focus on stress relief and uplifting my mood through exercise and Jenny’s support.