A Brief History of Pregnancy

An article idea was given to me by a Facebook friend -The Changing Face of Pregnancy and Exercise.

Great idea, I thought what might make this even more interesting is a look back over history at what shaped the way we looked at pregnancy.

Ancient Times sounds like a very idyllic time to have a baby.

People were spiritual believing birth and death were like the sun and moon. Cycles of life.

Faith was put in women to carry and deliver children without male interference and almost entirely delivered in an upright position. Women continued with their day to day tasks until the baby was born. (The only exception to this rule is Greek and Romans, who had a distrust for women)

Labour pains were considered as a reaction to the baby fighting his way out of the womb. Death rate in delivery was very low.

Medieval Times to 17th Century is where things start to get a bit ugly.

Attitudes were starting to change as conflict erupted between the church and ancient traditions.

Labour pains became punishment for Eve’s sins.

There was little to no sanitation. Rooms were made dark and warm with straw scattered on the floor to absorb any fluids.

C Sections were performed during this time but on dead mothers.

Women were encouraged to spend the last few weeks of pregnancy in bed resting.

During these times it seems that a little more intervention started to take place and delivery became far less serene.   Death rate were still relatively low but certainly creeping up.

The next era to make there mark was the 18th century and the beginning of science.

The forceps were introduced in 1740! No antiseptic though!

Intervention was far more aggressive and common place and is when delivery started to make it’s way into hospitals (though upper classes thought this was very common and continued to have home births)

Living conditions were poor at this time, hygiene was still a long way off.

The nutrition of expectant mothers was dreadful which all led to increasing rates of death in labour. It didn’t seem to occur to the doctors how external factors impacted the death rate and chalked it up to the ‘danger of child birth’ this only seemed to make matters worse as intervention at this time was not as sophisticated as it is now.

Times started to change in Georgian to Regency Times.

Moving back to nature was starting to produce more normal births and a trend begun. Just as progress was picking up speed, the death of Princess Charlotte after 50 hour of labour, plunge England into mourning probably only ever seen again on that scale when Princess Diana died.

Shops closed for 2 weeks. People from every class wore black arm bands. People looked for a scapegoat. Dr Croft who attended to Princess Charlotte fitted the bill and after weeks of fingers pointed at him, he committed suicide.

Child birth from here on took a much more aggressive tone. Birth was seen as hard and very difficult process. Hygiene and better living did help but death rates were still very high. Activity during pregnancy was frowned upon, many women disappearing from society until after birth.

Victorian Era – A time when women were to be seen and not heard. Where women were seen as fragile frail creatures who were entirely to blame for miscarriage. Citing over exertion as the probable cause. You can imagine what this did for activity levels during pregnancy.

Yuck!! Pregnancy and a Corset!!
Yuck!! Pregnancy and a Corset!!

Pain relief became common place. Even Queen Victoria used chloroform. And the first successful cesarean was carried out in 1882.

Great strides were being made in the medical field during this time but a women’s natural ability to deliver, something she had been doing for thousands of years was wildly underestimated.

It is not until present day that we are now moving back to the idea that a women can deliver without medical intervention or drugs. Birthing centres were first introduced in America during the 1970’s.

Delivery reverting back to standing and squatting positions. Death rate over the last 50 years have plummeted

This marked the beginning of a new wave of women who wanted to give birth the way nature intended. Intervention is only used in emergencies and drugs offered in birthing centres are limited to be gas and air. Birthing pools and hypnotherapy becoming far more popular.

The advise to stay active during pregnancy is now picking up pace, with special classes being programmed and courses to educate fitness professionals increasing in popularity.

Slowly and I mean slowly people are starting to view pregnancy in a new light. Women is seen as a powerful force who is not only looking out for her own health by staying active but also giving her unborn child a great start too.

Still there are a lot of negative views of exercise, particularly something like Crossfit.

I love the photo’s of my friend Rachel Steadman during her pregnancy. The irony between the two different shots.

Accaptable – Holding her daughter overhead.

Unacceptable – A kettelbell Swing

Both of equal weight, it’s probably less awkward in fact to swing the bell.

Why such a view??

Because we have lost sight and forgotten that pregnancy is as old as time.

Looking at the history things only got worse the more we interfered, the less active women were and as cities and villages became crowed and unclean.

I am not suggesting we revert back to ancient times and bang clubs but we could learn a lot from how our ancestors view life, birth and death.

If a women has always done an activity,  carry water buckets on her head or swing a kettlebell why does she have to stop?

Please lets be sensible about how we look at a training pregnant women. I bet she is more in tune with her own body and more clued up about her limitations then you think.

(If you are pregnant and want to continue training I would always advise to seek out some professional guidance first and consult your doctor)

 

Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer with Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

 

Deload Week for my Life

As a fitness professional and enthusiast I am very use to adding a deload week to my training schedule. This post shows my path to enlightenment! and Deloading my life.

I have been pretty quiet these last few days as Sebastian started to get a little cough late Thursday night.

Typically Seb was fine all day until bedtime, which meant a last minute class cancellation. Feeling sorry for my poor little bubba I decided to spend the day chill-axing and playing. We stepped out for a quick trip to the shops and that was it.

I didn’t check my emails, I didn’t once glance at Facebook. I didn’t pour over any class programming and as for my weekly article, not even a thought entered my head.

Putting Seb down for a lunch time nap I thought about cleaning the bathroom, moping the floors but as I lay him down to sleep, a huge wave of tiredness washed over me and before I knew it I was sliding into bed and within a matter a seconds I was in the land of nod just like Seb. We both slept for two hours solid.

Almost as if my toes had been set on fire I leapt out of bed in a panic, realising there was no fire, I gently woke up Seb. I decided I quite enjoyed this ‘no work and all play’ day. So it continued.

For the first time in ages I was ignoring the housework and pushed work to one side. It was glorious all the extra time I had. I could feel myself slowing down to an easy pace and that flustered red glow in my cheeks paled in comparison.

Being a busy working Mum, rushing to and fro it is easy to get blind sided to the cost of all this rushing and business. I am so used to adding a deload week to my training, what I really needed was to deload my life for a few days too.

One day of domestic abandonment wasn’t quite enough so for the next few days I looked at life like training. I did what was essential around the house, simple chores and of-course the odd load of washing.

Having children means endless pots of patients, it is part of the job description. It is also one of the first things to shorten when you are over tired. By making myself over-tired and stressed out I was not giving Sebastian the best I could.

Having this rest and prioritising playtime and rest with Sebastian was the best stress relief I could have reached for.

What else suffers?

Pretty much everything takes a dive when your tired. I get snappy and up-tight with Adrian. Cooking becomes dull, not to mention the increasing collection of bags under my eyes.

So what have I learnt from this, Life is like training. You need to give yourself enough rest to continue running at optimal levels.

After periods of stress or business you need to allow time to recover and ‘deload’ your life, re-charge the batteries.

We usually wait for a holiday to do this but I am suggesting that you periodically lessen the load for a week. I am not suggesting you stay in bed, under the duvet for days on end but sit down and work out where you can make your week that little less hectic for seven days.

Try it you will be amazed at the difference it makes!

 

Sally Dixey is a personal trainer @ Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

Stability in Pregnancy – A Must Have!

Symphysis pubis diastasis (SPD) is the separation of the pubic symphysis, a cartaligious joint approximately 6 inches below your belly button. It connects the two sides of the pelvis.

Symphsis pubis diastasis is common during pregnancy. This is because of the hormone relaxin, which is released to loosen ligaments. The pubic symphysis expands up to 2-3cm.

You can imagine the instability this creates and becomes a key point you need to consider when training.

Careful thought is needed to ensure that movements and workouts don’t exhaust an athlete’s ability to stabilise. Walking lunges are a good example, since although they can be done with no problem pre-pregnancy, it is advisable to scale to stationary lunges to allow better focus on stability.

It is not only Symphsis pubis diastasis that makes her more unstable, the baby bump will shift her centre of gravity too.

SPD is normal in pregnancy and if properly managed shouldn’t become an issue, but in some cases it can become quite painful causing pain sometimes in both the front and back of the pelvis. If pain is experienced you must stop any activities and discuss with your doctor.

This then is given the name Symphsis Pubis Dysfunction, it causes pain and discomfort, both in workouts and everyday tasks such as walking and climbing stairs. The best medicine is rest and time spent developing the surrounding pelvic stabilising muscles. Stability balls, TVA exercises and pelvic tilts are all common tools to alleviate Symphsis Pubis Dysfunction.

But as they say, prevention is better than cure. So I’d rather try and avoid it in the first place by scaling movements, addressing stability and stopping when something doesn’t feel right.

(If you feel you are experiencing more then just the normal symphsis separation –pain is a good sign. You must seek advise from your doctor or midwife.)

Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green

 

 

Pregnancy in the Developing World

When I think about developing world pregnancy I am amazed to see images of women still continuing to do the same manual work they did before pregnancy.

It really drives home the message, that what you did before pregnancy is still achievable during pregnancy.

Do you think it even entered her mind to stop what comes so naturally??

Of-course not!

Here are some of my favourite images.

It doesn't look like pregnancy stopped them!
It doesn’t look like pregnancy stopped them!
8 Months in and she is still lifting weights!
8 Months in and she is still lifting weights!

Manual labour and Pregnant?????? Didn't stop them

Manual labour and Pregnant?????? Didn’t stop them
Post-Natal and very active
Post-Natal and very active
Pregnant & Working hard still!
Pregnant & Working hard still!
Pregnancy and Squat? Hell yeah!
Pregnancy and Squat? Hell yeah!
One tough looking pregnant lady!
One tough looking pregnant lady!

 

(I am not suggesting you squat or take up manual labour if this was not already part of your pre-pregnancy life. Form and technique is very important so you need advice and a bit of guidance before you start squatting for England and baby. Please ensure your doctor has OK-ed exercise during pregnancy)

 

Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green