Despite the fact that the cover of this book makes it look really outdated, it actually offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date research and discussion about exercising before, during and after pregnancy, and is the book I have seen most often recommended in articles that discuss running while pregnant (since much of the research done by the author focused on women who ran during their pregnancies).
I just started reading it, but so far, it is awesome.
For one thing, the information within it is based on research that was conducted over a period of 10 years and with hundreds of women -- both in control groups and with experimental groups, so the data is significant and reliable. But in addition to such credible research, it's written in an accessible way that helps break down the research and the scientific information in a manner that is approachable to the lay person.
Of course, as you can probably conclude from the title and my enthusiasm over it, it fully endorses strenuous exercise during pregnancy and gives a great deal of evidence supporting the idea that exercise during pregnancy is not only healthy, but exercise also provides additional benefits to both mother and baby. But that's getting ahead of myself; what I am finding interesting in the beginning chapters is his discussion about why there are negative societal and medical opinions about exercising during pregnancy. And what's surprising about this is that both are relatively new. Not old school.
As he explains, women, for centuries, got pregnant and continued strenuous activity in the course of their pregnancies (think working in fields, in factories, in the household, out hunting and gathering, etc) and this was the norm. The beginning of a turn in opinion began in the 1950s, but really got underway in the late 1970s and early 80s when research began to reveal that a woman's behaviors and habits during pregnancy had a direct effect on her baby (ie, smoking, drinking alcohol, excessive caffeine, drugs, etc), and then suddenly being pregnant went from something that was "a normal part of life" to something that was "risky!"
Therefore, general medical practice in obstetrics in the early 1980s began to adopt a very conservative approach to all the activities and behaviors a pregnant woman engages in. What is startling is that today, in 2008, most OBs still adhere to these conservative practices that were established nearly 30 years ago (even the idea of keeping your HR at 140 or less is somewhat archaic and conservative advice and as this text discusses, a pretty random number that is subject to a wide variety of variables).
So, why in a rapidly changing, and constantly evolving field, such as medicine, are doctors still abiding by research that has been proven to be unsubstantiated? Simply put, obstetrics is the most conservative medical field there is because of the delicacy with which society views pregnancy and pregnant women. In fact, the author discusses his early experiences of getting federal funding for his research and he was questioned about the "ethics" of conducting such research with pregnant women.
I'm sorry if this shiz is boring you people, but I find the sociological aspects of this research to be nearly as fascinating as the actual physiological and biological aspects (and truthfully, I'm just a nerd at heart). Plus, it helps me better understand why society in general, and even many doctors in general, view running while pregnant as suspect. Lastly, all of this is just so interesting to me because despite the fact that I have read many articles on this subject, read some other pregnant runner's blogs, and have even read some other books on it, in the end, there is surprising little out there.
Yes, there are a gazillion books on what to eat while pregnant, but go into Barnes and Noble and try to find a book on running while pregnant and I guarantee you'll come out empty handed. Therefore, while many women are forging ahead with their already established running routines, they are largely doing so with only a small pool of resources at their disposal, and I find it baffling that so little exists to support their decision to do so.