What Can Pregnant Mothers Do?

07.20.12 Everything!


Last year when I wrote about my secret gym buddy, readers from all over the world were inspired that a hugely pregnant woman continued exercising, even though her pace was slow and lumbering. This week, another super athlete who is pregnant-as-can-be is making headlines. A Malaysian athlete will be eight months pregnant when she competes in the 2012 London Olympics. Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is competing in the women's 10-meter air rifle event, the first female Malaysian shooter to ever compete in the Olympics and the only pregnant woman competing in this year’s games. Some people say she should drop out in concern for her baby, but I say, “What better place could there be than surrounded by the healthiest, most athletic, talented and impressive men and women in the world of sports? Pregnant or not, she’s an inspiration about the power of dedication and perseverance. Go girl!”

In other news, Yahoo’s brand new CEO, Marissa Meyer, is starting her new job six months pregnant with her first baby. No pressure there, right? She only has to make a floundering company competitive with other Internet giants like Google and simultaneously grow a person. Meyer joins a group of only 20 women who run Fortune 500 companies. That Yahoo wasn’t worried about her pregnancy when they hired her is a huge step for women in the workforce. We’ve come a long way, baby. A working maternity leave isn’t something most women can handle, and some argue it’s not fair to Marissa or her baby. I say Meyer is capable of making this choice for herself. It wasn’t that long ago that women were never considered eligible for employment if they were pregnant. Even today, in many workplaces, a pregnant applicant doesn’t stand a chance of being hired. Good for Meyer, good for Yahoo and good for women who choose to or need to work, whether they have a baby or not.

While the Olympian and the executive set the bar pretty darn high, there’s something to be said for the motivation and determination of pregnant women. It’s a time of high transition and creativity, where many of us feel like there’s nothing we can’t do. I mean, if we can grow a baby from scratch, we can rule the world, right?

I’m really proud of some of the things I did during my pregnancies. I started nursing school pregnant with my first baby and graduated five days past my due date with baby number two. I performed grunt student nurse duties in the midst of morning sickness, exhaustion and contractions. I couldn’t miss more than two clinical days during a semester and since I didn’t know if I’d deliver early, I saved them up and didn’t miss a single day. As I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I wore the biggest Kotex pad I could find, just in case my water broke during graduation. My daughter was born three days later.

When I was pregnant with my son, I worked night shifts and had two small kids at home. I sometimes worked back-to-back shifts on as little as five hours sleep. I was bleary, queasy, cranky and exhausted, but I was amazing when I was on duty; able to manage an entire labor unit from dusk til dawn - Superwoman, with a huge belly and without the gold belt.

I can’t remember anything amazing I did with my 4th pregnancy, but considering I was still worked full-time and had a houseful at home, I’ll chalk that memory lapse up to being human. I probably swept the floor occasionally and none of my kids went to juvenile detention or foster care, so maybe that’s amazing enough.

I asked my friend, Sarah, (who works at CARE and is a world traveler and humanitarian to the max-extreme) if she did anything totally amazing during her pregnancy. She gave me this list:

- Grew a person.

- Got a belly bump from Michael Franti.

- Took an intensive German class – and promptly forgot everything.

- Didn’t eat sushi for 9+ months

- Did not feel guilty about eating ice cream on a near-daily basis (and once, yes, I ate ice cream and pickles – not together but in the same sitting - it was AWESOME)

Sarah continues, “Honestly, I didn’t do anything really earth shattering. It’s not like I got pregnant then climbed Mt. Everest on stilts or even spoke at TED or anything. I think my biggest accomplishment was not totally losing my mind. I’m a worrier and over-thinker and I probably had more meltdowns in the period between getting pregnant and having a baby than any time in my life. Those hormones are goooood.”

What is it about pregnancy that makes women amazing? Is it the hormones? Is it all that pure potential growing inside you? Is it being on the brink of a whole new life or is it just the power of being a woman that makes us continue doing our best despite not feeling our best; continue moving forward despite wanting to sit down and take a load off. We’re amazing because we’re building a human being and turning into a mother while we’re holding down a job, being a great friend, taking care of our children and parents, becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 company or shooting in the Olympics. We’re amazing because we’re women and we can do everything!

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? Email it to labornurse@fitpregnancy.com and it may be answered in a future blog post.

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This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.