Congratulations! You’re pregnant. And a hearty congrats to us as well—Fit Pregnancy turns 20 this year and we couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate with you. Why? Well, we think it’s an amazing time to be pregnant.
For starters, as an expectant mom you can choose an OB-GYN or midwife—or both; there’s an abundance of well-researched information to help you have the healthiest, most positive pregnancy possible; and you’ve got plenty of great-looking baby gear to pick from.
It’s an incredible time to be sporting a baby bump, and to prove it, we’ve compiled 20 reasons why now is the best time ever to be a mom-to-be.
1. Baby bumps on spin bikes are commonplace
Just because you’re expecting doesn’t mean you should expect to stop exercising. “When it comes to exercise during pregnancy, there are no longer any ‘one size fits all’ prescriptions,” says Michelle Mottola, Ph.D., director of the exercise and pregnancy laboratory at University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Sure, you need to steer clear of risky activities like Rollerblading and horseback riding, and you should avoid lying on your back after 16 weeks to avoid compromising uterine blood flow, but jogging, Pilates, weight lifting, Spinning and Zumba are all fair game for women with uncomplicated pregnancies who’ve received an OB’s go-ahead.
The payoffs: loads more energy, a reduced risk of gestational diabetes and constipation, healthier body image, a speedier labor and delivery, and a quicker bounce back to your preconception weight. Your mini gym bunny will benefit, too: Babies born to fit moms have healthier hearts and a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns, always make sure you can carry on a conversation while exercising and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort. —Leslie Goldman
2. Dads are full-time parents, too
A recent study from the Pew Research Center finds that most men are struggling to juggle work and family, just like moms. But believe it or not, that’s a sign of progress. Our grandfathers’ generation showed their love by going to work every day and providing for their families—and woe to the man who dared change a diaper, for he’d be told he was doing woman’s work. Today, more men than ever have access to paid or unpaid parental leave, thanks to policies like the Family and Medical Leave Act. Better, over the past two generations, women went to school and went to work, and many gained the ability to support families. That put new demands on men— your turn to make dinner, buddy!—but it also created new possibilities.
Enter the stay-at-home dad. Most men won’t become one, but we’ve all gained the opportunity to train on skills like patience, empathy and peeing while holding a crying infant. We have to succeed on the job and at home—and the mothers of our children are often struggling with the exact same problem. But we’re doing great. We spend more time with our kids than any previous generation of fathers, and we’re embracing our new identities as competent parents. We’re also learning to practice kindness, compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and for our wives. That’s good, and good for our kids.
—Jeremy Adam Smith is the author of The Daddy Shift
3. Breastfeeding is getting the attention it deserves
When Time magazine put a photo of a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on its cover, it not only ignited a tempest of controversy, it got people talking about a taboo topic. The image was just one of a flurry of nursing-related news highlights (see also: Facebook yanks breastfeeding pics; military moms chastised for nursing in uniform; women’s studies professor feeds baby while lecturing) that have fueled a national dialogue and led to enhanced awareness and greater support for moms who want or need it. Lactation consulting is now covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act, online communities like the Leaky Boob (theleakyboob.com) offer a sense of sore-nippled camaraderie and the U.S. surgeon general has called on employers, health providers and family members to support nursing women as best they can.
“We are moving away from pressuring moms to breastfeed and putting the emphasis on removing barriers, setting women up to succeed and improving access to information,” says Danielle Rigg, co-founder of the Best for Babes Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating institutional and cultural obstacles to nursing. And women do need support: Eighty-five percent of those who want to breastfeed exclusively intend to do so for at least three months, but only 32 percent reach their goal. Whether you’re a diehard lactivist, a shy hooter hider-type or an exclusive pumper, the point is this: options exist, and you deserve to have the tools you need for success. —Leslie Goldman
4. The media loves baby bumps
The “preggorazzi” are on constant bump watch, letting fans know who’s got a bun in the oven, who’s sporting 5-inch heels in her third trimester and who named her kid Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson (Mazel tov, Uma Thurman!). Thanks to movies like Juno, Knocked Up and What To Expect When You’re Expecting, we’re exposed to a rainbow of possibilities when it comes to welcoming a little one, and such belly-centric TV shows as Call the Midwife, A Baby Story and Pregnant in Heels let us live vicariously while we prepare for what’s to come. Famous bumps … they’re just like US!
5. OB-GYN, midwife, doula or all three? The choice is yours.
Armed with information about the pros and cons of various childbirth practices (thank you, Internet), women have more control over where, how and with whom they experience childbirth. Documentaries, such as Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s The Business of Being Born and stories from the Farm Midwifery Center run by legendary midwife Ina May Gaskin in Tennessee, have opened many women’s minds to a less medicalized delivery; in 2009, a record-high 11 percent of all vaginal births in the U.S. were assisted by certified nurse-midwives.
Like the idea of continuous labor support from a midwife, but want an epidural? Many hospital-based midwives will accommodate you. Crave a homey atmosphere and natural childbirth, but want to be near a hospital “just in case”? A birth center located nearby or even on the same grounds as a hospital could be a good fit. The best part? Your birth plan can include what feels right to you. —Kim Schworm Acosta