Saturday, June 21, 2014

9 Months Pregnant and Still Dancing!!!!

They say, men are stronger than women in so many ways.
But as far as carrying a baby for 9 months is concerned
and then giving birth to a child, rearing and nurturing it as it grows,
physical strength in favor of the male species
may have found its greatest challenge. 

I am now on my last trimester of pregnancy and due to my growing belly, some of my activities had been limited. But to be able to be bestowed of a gift to rear a child into coming forth in this world leaves me grateful. To some, this may be a hindrance, an obstacle and a huge responsibility that they choose not to put themselves into such commitment. Since this natural phenomenon is beyond anybody's concept of pain threshold and this is the ultimate leap anybody could ever do, many opt not to have a child. But Mary Helen Bowers, a renowned ballet dancer, proves that having a baby doesn't mean you have to neglect yourself nor having a baby puts limits to your life as she gracefully continues to do what she does best....



Mary Helen Bowers stretching out with her bump
as documented in Instagram
Baby Center, the site that I get monthly newsletter from for what to expect every week with my own pregnancy emphasizes on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy as follows:

1. It boosts your energy.

It's not an easy task to nurture a growing baby. But exercising helps you in keeping up with the physical demand pregnancy induces from your usual self. Exercise helps you maximize your body's potential as it adjusts to hormonal changes, waddling gait and indifference to bodily posture.

2. It helps you to sleep better.

You have to listen to your body when it heeds for rest. But when you're pregnant, your thoughts run wild over silly things. What the baby will be needing when it comes, if you're going to be successful in breastfeeding or how the expenses will go about as a new member of the family is about to arrive. Those could be little distractions that can make you insomniac, true story! But there's a way to battle insomnia and that is thru exercise. Your body gets to utilize the food it takes in during the day and therefore gets to utilize the energy that you've gained from the food. Your body then automatically succumbs to a period of rest to attain balance and homeostasis.

3. It reduces discomforts of pregnancy.

This is most applicable to first-time moms like me because you are still gaging on what changes may occur and are occuring on your body. Take note that every pregnancy is different. What you may perceive as something new may be treated a little way different by another expecting mom. For me, everything seemed new. One of the discomforts that exercise have helped me get relieved from was edema. Yes, those raddish cankles (called as such because no indent separates the calf from the ankles, almost looking like raddishes - that's just how straight and fat they are as shared by my friend) could be major turn-offs! They attacked me on my 8th month but good thing, elevation and regular exercise facilitated bloodflow. Both helped in combatting the effect of blood pooling, most especially in the lower extremities when you engage in prolonged sitting and standing. Good bloodflow also helps in preventing water retention. And exercise helps a lot in making your heart pumping. As you exercise, your body excretes water and leaves your body asking for replenishment. When replenished well and satisfactorily, your body won't perceive the need to hold on to excess fluids. Extreme weight gain may also be prevented as food gets utilized effectively. Just watch out for signs that you maybe doing extreme exercise. Usually, when you have to catch your breath so much that you can't talk right after is a sign you are taking it too far.

4. It helps your body to prepare for childbirth.

As your body engages into childbirth, it will increase your blood pressure, heart rate and expect that you may totally rely on instinct. But a useful form of exercise that may benefit you thru childbirth would be your breathing exercises and the Kegel's exercise. Kegel's prepares your perineal muscles and birth canal ready for the expansion as the baby's head passes thru it. Stretches done in preparation for holding positions in dancing, most especially when doing ballet, are a very good help for the perineal muscles too. Hips are opened up and its external rotation allows the baby's head to easily engage towards the inlet as the right time comes. Breathing exercise is a fundamental catalyst as you are asked to push in rhythm with your contractions. As the pain progresses over time, you are constantly reminded to concentrate on your breathing to allow recovery in between these contractions.

5. It reduces the stress and lifts your spirits.

Due to pregnancy, changes that may occur are both temporary (weight gain) and permanent (stretch marks). Seeing this may somehow affect your self-esteem at one point. But keeping yourself active while expecting is a good way to prepare yourself in getting back to shape after giving birth. Your body is used to that energetic vibe that it will search the light feeling exercising gives you right after a good build up of sweat. This feel-good-mood is brought about by the endorphins which are also known as the happy hormones. Its energy boosting properties makes you feel good about yourself.

6. It improves your self-image.

In relation to number 5, once stress is out of the way, you see yourself in a special way and you see the beauty of carrying a bundle of joy in your tummy. Exercising somehow makes you realise that you are yourself... plus more. As the endorphins serve you right, you also gain a lot from the good blood flow induced by being active. Oxygen is duly transported all over your body facilitating skin replenishment that gives you an instant glow. Because you are going beyond your body's limits, choosing to be active while pregnant, you feel empowered and fulfilled. Pregnancy is a blessing denied to many. And as I look at my own growing belly, I can't help but feel grateful that I am about to accomplish the essence of being a woman, and that is to bring forth this child into this world, worthy of a purpose.

7. It may help you get your body back after childbirth.

An additional 40% to 50% to the normal blood volume runs thru a pregnant woman's body making the heart work more. With that much blood getting pumped at every heartbeat, the heart copes and increases its size by 12% making you breathless upon exertion. The heart is composed of cardiac muscles and like any muscle, it gets stronger and bigger when being worked up. I have emphasized that once your body gets accustomed to a routine, it will adapt to it effortlessly in the long run. As you engage in exercising during pregnancy, it prevents you from slacking and getting lazy helping out the cardiac muscles of the heart working efficiently. This goes the same with the group muscles that make up your extremities. Although your will plays a big role to how you move, doing exercise regularly makes it possible for your body to adapt to the dreaded task subconsciously. It may suck the first time but if you don't miss at all, "not exercising"  may feel like not brushing your teeth. You will look for it subconsciously.

Mary Helen Bowers still executing an arabesque maintaining balance
effortlessly even with a pregnant belly.
In connection to Helen Bowers intention to stay fit, she also serves as an inspiration to expecting moms like me. I am a dancer too and I admit it isn't easy. I am no ballerina but I do jazz and hip hop and I dance in the parade for 6 years (in the happiest place in Hong Kong) and all of those require a lot of jumps and well, it is pretty much physically demanding. The moves are not for pregnant women I assure you. So, there was a huge change in my routine from dancing full out outdoors everyday to a sedentary lifestyle. But settling for stretching, yoga and swimming were very helpful. When I came across this beautiful mama, it dawned on me that plies, a la seconde stretches and tendu's are not that bad to do. It actually prevents cramps of the calves for ruining a good night's sleep most especially when you do it right before you go to bed.

A la seconde stretch (on the floor)
Mary Helen Bowers embraces her body as she gets accustomed to the changes pregnancy had brought forth. She was the trainer behind Natalie Portman's success winning the best actress portraying "The Black Swan". Countless Victoria's Secret models also run to Mary Helen Bowers for fitness training right after giving birth for well-toned body in a way of dance. She is the founder and creator of Ballet Beautiful. She is now a mom and from the experience of carrying her baby to giving birth, she encourages mothers, most especially the soon-to-be's, to celebrate their bodies by choosing to be aware and involved in all the changes as it progresses during the entire pregnancy.

There's no other person who knows your body more than you do. Listen to it and enhance its capacity by strengthening it and keeping it healthy. Now who says mama can't swag?

Related posts:
1. WHO'S GOT SWAG - Check out how these dancers express themselves doing what they do best.
2. HIP-POP OR HIP-HOP - The new kind of swag.
3. SUMMER IS HERE - Not sure about how to kick off your Summer?

No comments: