Pregnancy story by Emily Laura
A little about me
I started pole dancing about six years ago, trained as an instructor two years after, and then as a yoga teacher. In my “day job” I am a solicitor. I married my husband in spring 2016, we decided to start trying for a family that October and I was pregnant by March.
My first pregnancy
The first trimester went really well, I had a lot of morning sickness but exercising helped ease the symptoms. When I was 12 weeks pregnant, we travelled to Germany as I had been invited to teach there. Our scan was booked for the day we returned.
Halfway through the week, during a pole dance photoshoot, I started to bleed. It was light to begin with but got heavier and very clotted.
I knew what was happening, even though I hoped I was wrong.
Then the wait. The wait for my period to return. The longest, hardest and darkest six weeks of my life. Even now it’s hard to write about without feeling emotional.
My second pregnancy
Fast forward to August, and I found myself with a positive pregnancy test! I was elated and terrified. At six weeks, I had a huge bleed whilst dancing and thought the worst.
Luckily, I was given an early scan which showed a tiny jelly bean of a baby, safely tucked away. It was an implantation bleed! I asked my doctor if I should stop dancing and her response was,
“Don’t you dare! Keeping fit is one of the best things you can do for your baby!”
Now I’m 29 weeks pregnant with a very active little boy. Throughout my first pregnancy, the time in between, and this pregnancy, I have continued to exercise – pole, yoga and swimming. Yes, I have moderated my dancing as some things are not safe or possible with a bump, but I still train several times a week and have loved keeping fit whilst pregnant.
What other people think about my fit pregnancy
Since announcing this pregnancy, I’ve had so many comments. Some are positive, some are negative. The negative comments include:
- “You are harming your baby.”
- “This isn’t safe. You are being selfish.”
- “Your labour will be so much more difficult because you are toned and muscular.”
- “Did your dancing cause your miscarriage?”
These really hurt.
I post a lot on social media, so I expect a certain amount of negativity there, but it’s the comments from friends and family that are the worst. Some made me cry and consider stopping exercise. They made me doubt myself.
Yet, a mother’s natural instinct is to protect her baby. I know that having lost one baby already, I have been even more careful and more protective this time around. I also know that keeping fit is helping my baby.
And I have had lots of really positive comments too, such as:
- “Women are frickin’ amazing!” (yes, we are!!)
- “Your baby is going to be so healthy.”
- “It’s great to see you keeping happy and healthy.”
These have been wonderful to hear, but the negative comments sadly outweigh the positives – something I hope will change with FittaMamma’s #PregnantNotPowerless campaign.
What I know about my fit pregnancy
Before I was pregnant, I knew that being fit and healthy would give me the best chance of conceiving, and give my baby the best start. I was also aware that exercise would ease pregnancy symptoms and lower my risk of pre-eclampsia, reduce swelling, and help me sleep better.
Most importantly, I wanted to continue being me.
I’ve been passionate about pole dancing for six years and to stop would be to change who I am.
I am optimistic that, whatever happens in labour, my fit pregnancy will help me recover quickly. I’ve been waiting to meet my little one for so long now; I want to be in the best possible shape to care for him when he arrives!
Other benefits of my fit pregnancy
The biggest benefit so far has been to my mental wellbeing. Dance and exercise has always been an outlet for me. Whenever I would have a bad day at work, exercise would always make me feel good.
I really struggled with my mental wellbeing after the miscarriage, I felt helpless and lost. There were many times when I just sat and cried alone in the dance studio. I was tired and rundown, mentally and physically. But I kept going. I kept trying to do a little exercise, and I did feel a little better every time. And then one day I started to feel normal.
That was when I felt ready, mentally and physically, to try again.
During this pregnancy, it’s continued to be a much needed therapy! I feel great, and I genuinely love my pregnant body! On the whole I’m still energetic, I sleep quite well, my appetite is healthy and my weight gain has been manageable.
I feel as prepared as I can be for labour, and not just because of my level of fitness. Exercise, particularly yoga, has helped me develop a strong mind-body connection, something I hope will help me.
I started hypnobirthing at 20 weeks pregnant, which has helped me apply my yogic and dance breath work to pregnancy and birth. If simple breathing techniques can help me contort my body into strange shapes, then it can help me through labour!
What I want everyone to know
Staying active during pregnancy has been such an amazing journey. I feel great, I feel prepared, and I am in constant awe of what the female body can achieve. If you are thinking about exercising during pregnancy, I say go for it! Listen to your body and your doctor, make modification where needed, but enjoy this special time! To those of you who have had negative comments, know that you are not alone. Be strong knowing that you are creating a happy, healthy environment (mentally and physically) for both you and your baby!