Thirty-five-year-old Sharny Kieser, a fitness writer and personal trainer in Queensland, Australia, says that by her fifth pregnancy, she was ready to do something different. In her previous pregnancies, she was nearly destroyed by severe morning sickness, a 66-pound (30 kg) weight gain, postpartum depression and more than 25 hours of labor for each of her four kids.
By the time Kieser was pregnant with number five, a boy named Hugo, she was ready to stop the madness. Kieser told the Daily Mail Australia of her "come to Jesus" moment, "After the previous four pregnancies, I was overweight, and I had this 'enough is enough' moment… I changed things completely last time and did the same thing this time, and I haven’t had morning sickness at all — so that to me is not coincidental — it's because I've changed my behavior and my eating, and that is what I think stopped it."
"These things made the biggest difference for me — the difference between a fat pregnancy and a fit pregnancy is just staying fit and not falling into traps."
With baby number five, Kieser deemed her pregnancy a "fit pregnancy" versus a "fat pregnancy" she experienced with her previous four children. During her fifth pregnancy, Keiser stayed active and listened to her body. She ate well, lifted weights and ran throughout the nine months before birth. Kieser attributes these big health changes to a happier pregnancy with zero morning sickness, minimal weight gain and a surprisingly short labor of just 15 minutes in a birthing pool. Keiser is now 14 weeks pregnant with number six.
I have to confess: I was a fit mom during both of my pregnancies. I'm a bit of a health nut already, so I was religious about eating a clean diet and taking nutritional supplements while pregnant. I also stayed active and even went jogging when I was one week overdue with my first son. I think a fitness-focused pregnancy can be a wonderful thing, and it can make nine months and parts of labor easier.
But. But. Kieser had to know she was poking the internet bear by declaring that her "fit not fat" pregnancy was the secret to a 15-minute labor that almost any new mom would be envious of (myself included). It is a fact that taking care of your health can improve your pregnancy experience and outcome, as any doctor will tell you. But as any mother who has gone through labor will tell you, birth is unpredictable. You can't guarantee how fast your baby will come out — or whether or not you will need an emergency C-section — based on how well you ate and how many weights you lifted while pregnant.
Keiser's story is inspirational for women who want to keep fit while pregnant, but what I take issue with is the implication that there is a "secret" to short labor. If you want to stay active and eat well during your pregnancy, do it to empower yourself and to benefit your baby. Taking care of yourself can make pregnancy much more comfortable, but no matter how fit you are, there's still no magic bullet for a 15-minute labor.
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