Too many people approach training and performance during pregnancy with a mindset of proving its safety - science has already done this and culture must catch up. My message is not for trolling mom shamers; my message is for those who believe in themselves, for those who are provoked by these images and words and want to learn, for true athletes (not those vaguely committed to fitness), and in the hopes we can re-frame pregnancy as a uniquely physically powerful time for the athlete. It is time to celebrate.
In the spirit of celebrating nine and a half months of continued dedication to my mountain practices, I am sharing a list that has long danced in my head as a proverbial carrot motivating me even when the scale betrayed me or when my roundness would otherwise have me believe I'm regressing. This is a list of athletic benefits I anticipate I'll receive in the glorious runs, climbs, and skis in the days and weeks following the birth of my first child (any day now!).
These are the benefits I will receive as a postpartum athlete as a direct result of being pregnant:
- Increased VO2 max
- Increased pump volume of my heart
- Mitochondrial adaptations for improved endurance for both me and my baby
- Higher hemoglobin and hematocrit
- Higher anaerobic threshhold
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased power-endurance while climbing
- More resilient joints
- Normal TSH (I'd been hyperthyroid prior to pregnancy)
- Balanced qi
I'll report back after my training sessions in the days following birth.