Intro to ‘My Pregnancy & Pole Dance Diary’
Firstly I would like to point out that I am not a Doctor, or of the medical profession. This is not a medical journal and in this diary I am in no way recommending that other women (whether they do or do not pole) continue their activities in the way that I have.
I simply want to share my pregnancy experiences in an honest blog/diary as reference for other possible pregnant women – who pole dance.
I found a lot of the advice from books and various people very confusing, and very little information about my particular situation, which as the popularity of pole dancing grows will become a greater concern over time I have no doubt.
A little bit about me and my fitness background….
I have been pole dancing for about 4 years now, in the beginning it was barely even once a week, then I started regular lessons, and once I started teaching it went up to three times a week, every week, for about two or three years. So by the time I found out I was pregnant, my body was already quite conditioned to pole dance fitness, the ONLY reason I decided it would be even remotely sane to continue throughout pregnancy.
I never planned for a baby; I’m not the most maternal type. Whenever people have handed me a child I’d hold it at arms length and stare at it, not really knowing what to do! I love puppies, hand me a puppy and I’ll go all mushy and try to squish it into my face and play with it but babies….I just don’t get them. So this has been a very emotional journey for me, and a huge learning curve.
I had been off the pill for a year an a half for medical reasons, so my fiancée and I had tried to be extra careful…..but one slipped through the net! So you can imagine how ‘surprised’ I was to find out I was pregnant!
This is my first time, and I have probably done all sorts wrong, but it’s the truth none the less and I hope it provides some use to someone.
I have divided it into 3 sections (The Three Trimesters) and then three sections again – 4 weeks at a time. I have also included some information about what happens to your body each week, taken from www.babycentre.co.uk which I found to be a VERY useful site, particularly the foetal development section.
** 2017 UPDATE ** The lovely people at Ultrasound Dimensions got in touch with me after reading this blog, and offered me a link to this amazing video they created to show exactly what happens on the inside of your body throughout the course of ’40 Weeks in the Womb’, using the latest scanning techniques … and I must say – it’s bloody fascinating! So here it is …
Weeks 1-4 – How Can you tell?
It took over 4 weeks before I knew really so I don’t have much to report for this section, but I’ll tell you how it all started.
I had really STINGY boobs straight away, now they get sensitive normally every month anyway so I just passed this off for weeks….until they got bigger too. I was very pleased with myself! I also needed to wee – A LOT. So I thought maybe I should do a test, just in case.
I want to clear up for the record, pregnancy tests kits are not as straight forward to read as you might think! I did one, it showed a strong vertical line and a very faint horizontal line….now a strong HORIZONTAL line means ‘not pregnant’ and a clear cross means ‘pregnant’….well what the hell was I? The horizontal line was so faint it looked like it could just be a seeping stain, not an obvious mark. I did another test, sure that it would show a negative result…….SAME THING!
So I did the only thing I could think of…..phoned a friend. My best friend couldn’t tell, my sister came round; my Mum….we all stood around it scratching our heads – no idea what it meant. We collectively decided that I should get a digital one that actually says in writing ‘Pregnant’ AND how many weeks gone.
Hmmmm….. Well it was definitely a positive result, and 3+ weeks gone indicator – which means it could be anything between 3 and 5 weeks already!
I instantly crapped myself and tried to come to terms with the idea. ‘I’m – not – ready’ was my first thought. Quickly followed by ‘Oh-My-God-what-about-pole?!’. Pole to me, is not just my fitness regime, but it is also my hobby and my job too! So in case you were thinking I am being a bit dramatic, this is why!
So I sat down and had a cry. And a cigarette…then I cried that I had had a cigarette whilst pregnant! I started thinking about all the things I had done in the last few weeks, smoked, ate junk, ate shellfish and peanuts, flung myself upside down for hours, trained until I felt like collapsing, smoked some more!
But then I thought about it…..I’m nearly 30, that’s a good age to have a child, I was in a stable 5 year relationship, we lived together in a stable home, had bedrooms to spare, the business was just starting to take off, I work from home and manage my own time during the day, have lots of family and friends support……..Actually, everything was perfect. But I worried about pole.
Exercise guidelines for previously athletic people – taken from www.babycentre.co.uk
It may seem an odd time but in fact it’s a great idea to start an exercise routine now. Exercise helps you develop good muscle tone, strength and endurance. It helps you manage the extra weight you’ll put on (or prevent you putting to much more on if you’re already overweight), gets you fit for labour – and makes getting your figure back after birth easier too. Choose a safe, moderately vigorous activity you enjoy: walking and swimming are fine when you’re pregnant.
You might also want to do some easy yoga stretches – there are special classes adapted for pregnancy. Make sure the exercise instructors who teach you are qualified to instruct pregnant women and, if it isn’t a class specifically for pregnancy, let the instructor know that you are pregnant. Know your limits and make sure you don’t overdo it if you are new to exercise. If you are a bit of an athlete normally, we also have some tips for you…..
The fact that you were so fit before becoming pregnant may mean you can carry on exercising in a similar way. But before you start lifting weights or signing up for aerobics classes, talk through your routine with your doctor, midwife or a physiotherapist.
Try to lower the intensity of your routine. Now that you’re pregnant, your body will use up more oxygen. Although you’ll breathe more deeply, there’ll be less oxygen available to your body for aerobic exercise. As long as you can talk during your workout and do not feel out of breath, it’s probably about right for you.
Weight training is thought to be safe during pregnancy if you take care not to lift heavy weights. Aim to maintain muscle tone rather than building muscle bulk. As a rule, go for lighter weights and more repetitions (reps) rather than a few reps of heavy weights.
Towards the end of your pregnancy it’s best to stop weight lifting and try a different form of exercise. The type of muscle activity used in weight lifting may raise your blood pressure, because it forces your heart to pump harder to circulate blood through your system (Van hook 1993).
No matter how fit or active you were before becoming pregnant, it’s best to stick to low-impact aerobics during pregnancy. High-impact exercise, which involves a lot of jumping, hopping and running, may put too much of a strain on your body.
There are a few basic guidelines which you and other pregnant women can follow:
Carry on with exercise but stick to mild to moderate exercise routines. It’s best to exercise about three times a week.
However sporty you are, you still need to look after your pelvic floor. Running or any type of vigorous sport where you’re on your feet, such as tennis or badminton, can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to you leaking a little urine, or stress incontinence. Keep doing your pelvic floor exercises regularly. Do them before, during and after exercise.
Stop exercising when you’re tired. You may find that you’re able to carry on doing weight-bearing exercises, such as walking and low-impact aerobics throughout your pregnancy. However, some women find that non-weight-bearing exercise, such as swimming, easier.
You need about 200 extra calories a day during the third trimester, so if you’re exercising, remember to eat well. Pregnant women use up more carbohydrates during exercise than women who aren’t pregnant. So you’ll need to eat plenty of carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, pasta and potatoes, if you’re exercising often.
Make sure that you don’t lie flat on your back for a long time when exercising, particularly after the first trimester. Lying on your back may reduce the supply of blood to your uterus (womb) and make you feel dizzy or faint.
Stay cool when exercising. Drink enough water, wear light exercise clothes, and don’t work out in hot, humid conditions.
Don’t do exercise that risks you getting a blow to the stomach. This could include tennis and squash.
Don’t do exercises in which you could lose your balance, especially in the third trimester.
After your baby is born, get back to your pre-pregnancy exercise routine gradually. Talk to an exercise teacher or physiotherapist. You may even want to use a personal trainer who is an expert in exercise for pregnant women and new mums.
Weeks 5-8 – What about pole?!
So – I asked my GP (who was my first point of contact), she told me that as I am an exercise professional and do pole dance on a regular basis, there’s no reason why I should stop unless my body tells me to. In fact, it is generally encouraged that women who exercise continue to exercise as it promotes an easier birth, but it is not recommended to START a new exercise regime if you don’t already, or increase the intensity/difficulty of what you currently do.
My midwife pretty much said the same thing, although they BOTH advised me to take it easy if possible in the first 12 weeks so the baby can become well embedded in the womb.
As I talked to more people about it I started to learn just how thickly shrouded in superstition being pregnant was. People told me…
* DON’T exercise AT ALL, take it easy.
* Exercise away – just be normal.
* Never go upside down.
* Go upside down – it doesn’t make a difference – just don’t fall!
* If you fall, it will die!
* If you get kicked, it will die!
* If you fall – it will be fine as it is so protected, but go get checked out anyway.
* Won’t you be too big anyway?
* Won’t you be too heavy?
* DON’T do high impact.
* Carry on as you are.
Pfft….so much conflicting stuff, my head was spinning! Also, I had planned and paid for a pole photo shoot to be done in week 8 which COULD NOT be cancelled, apart from the sickness I looked and felt totally normal to do it, but I was so scared that it might be so dangerous…things were looking really ropey! So I took the reigns and decided to speak to another professional in the field of a different kind.
(The above picture is from the photo shoot, you can still see my abs at 8 weeks pregnent!).
Katie Coates was the only woman in pole at the time who had had a very ‘public’ pole-baby (so to speak). She ‘broke’ all the ‘rules’ and did as she saw fit….and gave birth to a VERY healthy little girl after teaching pole, becoming a body builder AND doing various performances.
Katie was very honest with me and she also told me that she had had several women with the same concerns as me call her in the last few months…….that’s what helped me decide to do this diary.
As a pole dancer and fitness professional, it’s VERY hard to accept that your body will be going through so much drastic changes, the thought of putting weight on was upsetting, the thought of getting too heavy to pole, loosing my flexibility, my training going backwards, loosing my strength and ability, not being able to take all the polling opportunities that I really wanted to……it was soul destroying.
But Katie put me at ease and gave me her opinion and told me of her experience, after which I decided on a plan!
I decided that during the first 12 weeks, apart from the photo shoot, I would take it easy as suggested by health professionals – luckily that first 12 weeks fell on the Christmas close down period anyway so I had the whole of the next 8 weeks to do nothing and stuff myself with food anyway!
When classes start back again in the new year I would be only just entering the second Trimester and be ‘medically allowed’ to exercise as I normally would – so I decided to go back to teaching 3 times a week, doing all levels of difficulty as normal – until I started to get bigger and feel off balance or unsafe.
As soon as that happens, I would continue to only teach beginner level myself and employ experienced help for the more difficult lessons.
Around the time of birth, I would slow lessons to a stop, take a short amount of time off for recovery, and then ease back into things as I felt safe to. That was my plan.
This trimester I also got about a million colds – colds when you’re pregnant are the WORST, if someone close to you has a sniffle, you catch it immediately – only it morphs into a mega cold, and what’s even more sad is, you can’t even take anything to speed up your recovery!
Body & Baby Info:
Weeks 9-12 – Pole Withdrawal Misery
What I didn’t budget for was the sickness……OH MY GOOOOOD! The sickness!
I’m lucky that I’m not much of a puker, but oh my word the ‘Morning sickness’ feeling I had lasted ALL DAY, and ALL NIGHT! I felt constantly sea sick and couldn’t eat a thing without my tummy turning. It feels like that stage of a hangover where it’s 4pm in the afternoon and you think to yourself…’I should eat something but I have no idea what I can hold down’…..I felt like this until week 10, then it was reduced to every OTHER day.
I was so tired too – I felt utterly wiped out all of the time and slept for on average 14 hours a day, and it still didn’t feel like enough.
So I spent most of the first 4 weeks indoors, too sick and tired to do anything, go anywhere, or eat well…. I CERTAINLY didn’t want to exercise and I was MISERABLE!
About that time Deb Riley opened up her studio with a huge show – including trollyfulls of performances and masterclasses from famous pole dancers like Jenyne Butterfly, Elena Gibson , Sally Ann Giles , Alesia Vazmitzel, Miss Glory Pearl , Tracey Simmonds, Chantelle Pritchard , Jannine Wilkering , Sasha Kavaleva, Bridgette Sachil and Sabrina Pankow.
I cried that I couldn’t go.
I wanted to work on my stretching so badly but it’s dangerous to stretch without first warming up the joints with some cardio – and the thought of moving that much made me green.
FINALLY, by the end of the first trimester, I started to feel a bit better – and began to eat more. I felt so happy that I could do things again and eat normally that I went overboard! And got BIG within a week!
So in the last week – I went for my first scan to find out EXACTLY how far gone I was and see if the baby was alive and kicking still – that’s all I was arsed about. Read on to the ‘Second Trimester’ to see the result…
Body & Baby Info:
* Orange Juice – At this stage, orange juice was the only thing I could face and to be honest it tasted like the most beautiful thing in the world. I drank buckets of it, and when I was feeling a bit like I had drank it too much, I switched to Del Monte pure orange ice lollies!
* Travel Sickness Bands – Being as you can’t take the tablets, most people swear by these.