Learning to Let Pregnancy Have Control


Letting pregnancy have controlMy husband and I have two adorable, healthy boys, but they came into the world in remarkably dissimilar ways. My lifestyle was completely different for each of my pregnancies, but each time, I was challenged with letting my pregnancy have control and letting go of my ideas of what a fit, healthy pregnancy might be.

Johanna during her first pregnancyMy First Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with our oldest son, my husband was stationed at Fort Lee, VA and I was working at a stressful job in D.C. I was working long, sedentary hours in front of the computer and commuting too many hours in the car. I didn’t have time to take care of myself.

After having several miscarriages and receiving a severe pregnancy hypertension diagnosis, I was labeled as having a high-risk pregnancy. I had been athletic nearly my entire life. My visions of a fit pregnancy were shattered. I was essentially limited on all of my “keeping fit” options including running and even yoga. My OB had me on strict “only walking for exercise” orders, the complete opposite of what I had always envisioned for my pregnancy. I needed a reality check on how much several miscarriages had put my body through. At 35 weeks, I was put on bed rest. Funny how things never quite go how you expect them to.

I gained an incredible amount of weight and my son’s birth was complicated, at best. He arrived into the world via emergency C-section. We’re thankful he is now a healthy and spirited little boy.

During her second pregnancy, Johanna made healthy changesMy Second Pregnancy

When we talked of having our second child, it became important to me to start off the pregnancy in a much stronger place. I worked hard and managed to get probably the best shape of my life. I still look back at pictures and I’m proud of what I had accomplished.

Mostly though, I taught myself how to change my overall lifestyle. We were stationed in Germany, and instead of working long hours in front of the computer and commuting back and forth to an office, I was at home taking care of our son. I put my energy into learning how to eat healthier and finding ways to feed my family better. I kept up a daily yoga practice, and ran regularly. I somehow managed to find some balance, and it paid off by making my family and me much healthier. I was determined to make my second pregnancy the one I had always imagined myself having.

This is when I learned a true-life lesson:

Sometimes you just need to relinquish control.

It’s difficult, especially when you have a strong Type A personality like I do, to just sit back and accept that you need to slow down. But honestly, you have very little control over what is going to happen with your body when it’s growing a little person inside you. I was much healthier and my hypertension issues were kept at bay the entire pregnancy, but my body had to deal with other challenges.

From early on I battled pretty severe anemia and the baby’s weight on my pelvis created a hernia that prohibited any type of strenuous activity. Walking was difficult so running was certainly out of the question.

Frustrated with my new reality, I turned to yoga to keep me strong. I practiced nearly every day until my third trimester and then I practiced as much as I could until the day my son was born. The birth went amazingly well. I was able to have a vaginal birth, and my recovery was incredible, especially in comparison to that of my first.

Going through my second pregnancy taught me quite a bit about myself. During my first pregnancy, I felt as though I had so many things stacked against me. I didn’t have any choice but to give in. For my second, I really wanted to take that control back. But, I was forced to sit back and listen to what my body needed and accept the changes. This was something I never expected would be quite so challenging. It was an important lesson though, and one that I am grateful my body took me through.

Stay tuned next week for specific lifestyle changes I made before and during my second pregnancy to create a healthier life for my family and me.

Did your pregnancy turn out the way you imagined or did you have to change your expectations along the way?

Note: Always check with your doctor when making diet and exercise changes, but especially make sure to have open communication with your OB during pregnancy to determine what is right for you and your baby.

Header photo courtesy Julie Swenson Photography.