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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Doing my Research

Despite the fact that the cover of this book makes it look really outdated, it actually offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date research and discussion about exercising before, during and after pregnancy, and is the book I have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.

32 comments:

Christie said...

I am no where near being pregnant, but this is all very interesting to me. Anyway, do you ever watch the Today Show? Natalie Morales, one of the co-anchors, is a runner and ran through both her pregnancies. There was an article on her in RW some months back. If she can do it, I'm sure you can too.

Shannon said...

I ran a marathon while 4 months pregnant and my doc fully supported my running through the entire pregnancy. If you don't HR train, I'd encourage you to start now. Sounds like a great resource.

Liz said...

I so see you writing a book about this in your future! :)

Marcy said...

Excersie during pregnancy? What the hell is that?

Kidding! I'm glad you found a good book on the subject ;-)

MCM Mama said...

I am over the pregnancy stage in life, but that sounds like a really interesting book. I'm a nerd too, so I'll probably end up reading that book just because it sounds interesting. That will likely freak Beer Geek out, though. LOL

Kevin said...

Sounds like you defnitely have been doing your homework. I have another blogger friend who ran through her pregnancy.

Her blog is at
http://proserpinasemergence.blogspot.com/

X-Country2 said...

I'm so very fascinated by all this. Like you, how pregnancy became this "disability" is such an interesting turn of events.

But really, get a new pic for the cover, folks. The capris are KILLING me. :o)

Erin said...

That was an pregnant English teacher's book review! Holy crap, where did my non-hormonal friend go? I relaxed more when pregnant; I think you have taken on my OCD. Stop it or the dogs will start puking!

Seriously though, keep running and be smart about it. It's healthy for you as long as it you take it in moderation. Plenty of women run while pregnant and have healthy pregnancies and babies. It is good for your mental and physical health. If you were smoking or drinking I would have a different opinion. ;)

chia said...

There was a girl at my old office that ran through her pregnancy and faced a lot of scrutiny from co-workers. It was friggin ridiculous. It's like HOW DO YOU THINK EARLY CAVEWOMEN BORE KIDS? Early man were migrant people... they followed the friggin herd. There were predators to run away from. Seriously. Delicate flowers, we are not. Good for you for questioning society's stigmas on the subject.

You rock.

AKA Alice said...

LUV the book review, so nerd away (do you like how I just made nerd into a verb?)

Seriously, I find this fascinating as well. I'm not surprised there aren't any running while preggers books in B&N. I think you have a book in your future!

Jen B said...

If you want advice about running while pregnant, I suggest checking out Jo's blog, The Lost Hawaiian. She ran a marathon when she was a few months pregnant. I am sure she would be happy to help you. Best wishes!

http://thelosthawaiian.blogspot.com

Laurel said...

I looked for books on running too ( I bought a million books as soon as I found out) and you are right, there were hardly any.

OB/Midwives have to pay a ridiculous amount for malpractice insurance, I'm sure this has to with Dr recommending the mothers "take it easy". They don't want to risk anything happening so they can save their own butts too.

I know not all Drs are like that...but...

Nikki said...

I bought this book too and really liked the no nonsense approach to what exercise actually does for your body while you're pregnant.

J~Mom said...

I found your review very interesting! I wish I wasn't done with having babies because I totally learn from you!

Shoe Running said...

Sounds like you are learning a lot and exploring your options. I think you should go for it! Good luck :)

D10 said...

In this sue happy society we live in, the medical field is always getting hit. I think Dr's want women to take it easy to cover themselves.

Wes said...

I always like to ask myself the question, what would a cave man do? That's usually good enough for me :-)

Amanda said...

That book looks really interesting. Good for you for challenging the social norm and doing what you know is best for you and your baby.

Brooke said...

I did a half marathon on December 6th, and there was a woman racing who looked at least 6 months pregnant! I don't know if she did the half or the full, but she looked very fit and healthy. In the days of women gaining ridiculous amounts of weight with the excuse of pregnancy it's refreshing to hear you plan to stay in shape!

Heather said...

I agree with D10 - the problem is lawyers. Medical malpractice claims have a chilling effect on doctors, and I think they tend to be conservative (especially in the area of obstetrics, where so many things are just beyond our control) to avoid what would likely be frivolous lawsuits.

Marlene said...

Tell me the truth - is that what you wear when you run?? lol

Seriously, though, the research is interesting.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I'm past the pregnancy stage of life.

But would be helful to me is a similar book on a slightly different topic. Wonder if they have one called "Experiencing Menopause" LOL.

MN Mom said...

Maybe you need to document your running and how it regards to pregnancy and write your own book!

FYI My friend Marney was a semi-pro tennis player and she continued to play very competitive tennis until the day she deliverd. Her doctor endorsed her decision--and everything went well.

mom2ET said...

I am a friend of Shannon's and a labor and delivery nurse. I have quite a few evidence based articles on this subject from the journal of midwifery, mayo clinic and the journal of science and sports medicine. I would be happy to email them. Send me you email address at bridgenboze@earthlink.net Moyo clinic has a great book on exercise for everyone and it includes pregnancy.

Stacy

Jess said...

I'm definitely not preggo, but I still find all of this fascinating.

Viper said...

Sounds like a great book. The societal aspects were certainly interesting to me. So where's the chapter about boozing while pregnant? Is that not exercise?

BeFit-Mom said...

Free, in depth, expert advice on all aspects of prenatal and postpartum fitness and exercise is available on the web at www.befitmom.com.

Heather said...

Since we are also "trying" I am a huge nerd and doing some research on running while pregnant. I came across this
Runner's World Guide to Running and Pregnancy also.

The Running Knitter said...

I didn't find this post boring at all, and thank you for sharing all this great info!

Viv said...

Yea Jess this is like a calling for you. Maybe your documentions of running while pregnant could be useful to other future Moms.

brunettechicagogal said...

I have no idea if you'll ever see this comment; I was scrolling back through to see your first pregnancy posts and came across this. I am DYING to run but since I've been so out of the running game for the last 8 months, I'm afraid to. I'm going to buy this book, though, because I fully intend to resume exercising once I'm out of the first trimester woods.

Jaz said...

When any form of medical malpractice happens, you should always approach a malpractice attorney to get the compensation to which you are entitled.