Thursday, April 9, 2009

the time-honored art of pregnancy and paranoia

What did women do before we had doctors to scare us into doing nothing more than lay on the sofa, watching our bellies expand?

Now, granted, the infant survival rate has increased exponentially with the technological advances in the neonatal medical community, but some of the stuff doctors tell us to do (or, I should say not to do) during our 40-week gestation has me wondering how the human species even survived before some of these rules were in place.

About once a week, a woman shares her concerns on the women's forum at that she would not be able to work out - at all - during her pregnancy because she has a doctor who thinks no pregnant woman should run. Forget the fact that she's been running for 14 years. Forget the fact that she's had no pain, no spotting, or any other indication that something is "not right," and therefor shouldn't run. Forget the fact that in 2002, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology released new guidelines for exercise during pregnancy stating that all pregnant women, provided the absence of any complications, should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

I mean, anyone who can type "g-o-o-g-l-e" can find a wealth of information that will tell her that exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, it's recommended. At my last appointment, I was instructed not to drink any coffee or our little girl would be moving around to much to be able to tell that she was, well, a girl. Without my morning buzz, my blood pressure was 90/60. Gestational diabetes and hypertension are still too common during pregnancy, especially with women who start out overweight to begin with. Why on earth would a doctor discourage any sort of activity? Maybe she shouldn't run if she's never run a step in her life, but those same doctors that think running is a no-no also think exceeding 140 beats per minute is also dangerous.

FYI, if you are already in decent shape, 140 bpm is a jog. It's a brisk walk up a very steep hill. You might break a sweat, but you're breathing just fine. And if you're in decent shape but pregnant, you experience spikes in heart rate that get you up to that 140 bpm much faster than normal, although the perceived effort is no more or less. It's just your heart working harder to deliver more blood to the creature in your uterus.

I know I've been on this soapbox before (possibly even in this blog but I'm pregnant, I forget things easily), but it just amazes me the lack of legitimate information some doctors continue to practice on. I understand not taking aspirin or sharing a beverage with my husband... but don't take my exercise away.

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