I am nothing but a home, a house, a shelter, a supply stream of nutrients, an internal bath, a sack for survival. It takes my breath away (not in the awe-inspiring sense of the word, but literally, I am very short of breath!), I puff and sigh with most moves, I get kicked and punched from the inside (this is supposed to be reassuring) and I am too uncomfortable, too tired and too “invaded” to properly enjoy some private time! I am not alone. Quite literally. This temporary occupation is due to come to an end quite soon and in the same way that I can’t wait to hold the little bundle of love, I am looking forward to inhabit my body all by myself again. Really, I am nothing but a home; the baby count down has begun.
It is a count down that sometimes moves in seconds, sometimes in hours and sometimes in lightyears. Many little warning signs are nothing but a string of false alarms, little teasers that make you sit up and sharpen your senses to then only relax again as it was nothing (much). Whereas during the 2nd trimester I used to feel shocked and occasionally taken aback by some of the changes my body seemed to be capable of, towards the end of the 3rd trimester it seems hardly worth mentioning it. Surrender is the order of the day, not because of choice but because of an intricate mixture of tiredness and the imminent loss of all available dignity. Nevertheless it is reassuring talking to other mothers who remember the internal worry of being “whale-like” and the self declared status of unattractiveness that comes with it, the realisation that it might never be the same again after birth and the insistent practise-runs of the body in preparation for birth. But after nine months you are all too aware that complaining about it is hardly going to erase those feelings. “It is all part of it”, people say happily, and they are right, but that doesn’t make it easier to cope with the bits that look so alien, the bits that are a different colour, leak or that you simply can’t see any longer.
I am nothing but a home, a house, a shelter, a supply stream of nutrients, an internal bath, a sack for survival. Right now that is my job and I need to get on with it. Or better: it needs to get on with it and I need to shut up. Any moment now or in the next 2 weeks of the baby count down, my perspective will get shifted and I will find myself on the other side of the bridge, caring about nothing else but the new baby life, whilst the house I have represented and a few leaking body parts will pale into insignificance. Daily anticipation is the order of the day: when, how and in what way will it all happen? The final unanswered questions that remain outside my control. It is not for me to know, but -like anything to do with the miracle of life- it runs all very smoothly entirely without my input. I am better off just listening for the hints.
When you mention swimming as regular exercise to people, then most think about the nuisance of having wet hair (that’s us girls), the hazards of chlorine and the time consuming occupation of getting changed, getting wet and getting changed again. I certainly don’t believe that one type of exercise is superior over another (frankly, physical exercise is so low on most people’s agendas, that when you are doing any kind of exercise you’re onto a winner!) but swimming has a got a number of great advantages. Swim yourself fit.
There are quite a few studies that indicate that land based exercises are more effective for fat burning, but when exercising on a regular basis it is important to do something that you enjoy and something that beats the boredom many suffer from. Make swimming one of your weekly workouts (and jump in the sauna/steam after!) or break your routine from time to time to substitute it with a few weeks of swimming training. You will get a good training effect because you don’t swim on a very regular basis and no doubt you will get back to classes, gym, yoga etc with renewed energy.
Of course there is a reason why I am writing a piece on swimming. With my ever growing bump and declining energy levels, I have recently re-discovered it myself. I’m still visiting the gym, but I just feel so much lighter and able bodied in the water. The veins in my leg that are under strain now -at 31 weeks pregnant- ease immediately when I enter the water. You need to be aware to alter the strokes you do, as swimming continually on your front can put pressure on the spine or on the abdomen. Take regular breaks and swim on your front and back. Taking your kids swimming is another great way of playing energetically with them but safely.
So for the next 8 weeks I shall be using the pool on a weekly basis, before launching myself back into the gym (whenever that may be after giving birth!).
If you are little stuck in a rut then do some pool training for a while (a change is as good as a rest!), or if you haven’t exercised in recent weeks/months, then dive into the deep end and get a few swims in to get you started!