My perfect baby proves that jogging is safe: Mother branded 'selfish cow' by running while pregnant tells of her 'textbook birth'
03:38 GMT, 13 May 2012
My gorgeous little girl Heidi was born on April 22 – weighing a healthy 7lb 6oz – blissfully unaware of the furore of which she would soon be the focus.
The reaction to my article about jogging while pregnant, published in last week’s Mail on Sunday, has been overwhelming.
Twitter has been awash with people debating the subject around the world.
In great shape: Jenny with Heidu, who weighed in at a healthy 7lb 6oz
There were hundreds of emails and
comments posted by readers on the Mail’s website. I have given
television and radio interviews, while other broadcasters held phone-ins
on the subject.
The majority of people have been supportive, and like-minded women say they’re relieved that I’ve spoken out about this taboo subject.
But, predictably, I have also been attacked. ‘Someone should call the Child Protection Agency!’ said one online commentator, while another said I could have caused Heidi brain damage.
I was accused of exercising while
pregnant in order to stop my husband Phill, who is managing director of a
fitness company, from ‘pursuing some gym bunny while she [me] subjects
herself to the mundane task of child-bearing’.
Another said my exercising was all about ‘feminism and an unrealistic obsession with women’s rights’.
it true that by exercising vigorously I was starving my baby of oxygen
Or that I risked having a child with shaken baby syndrome
Reaction: Jenny Wright from Leeds, West Yorkshire, suffered verbal abuse after she continued to keep on running after she became pregnant
Both suggestions are nonsense, made by people who have no understanding of how the human body works.
Worryingly, numerous women admitted that their own midwives told them to stop being active despite there being no complications with their pregnancies.
I believe my fitness is the reason my 16-hour labour went by the book, other than needing a ventouse suction cap to turn Heidi from the spine-to-spine birth position.
I needed no pain relief. My midwife commented on how physically and mentally strong I still was.
Within five minutes of birth, babies are given the so-called Apgar score. It determines their post-delivery health by scoring their heart rate, colour, muscle tone, respiratory effort and reflex.
The scores are added together for a maximum of ten, with most babies scoring between seven and nine. Heidi achieved 9.5.
She’s feeding well and my fitness is standing me in good stead to cope with the demands of having a newborn who wakes every few hours during the night. Now that I’ve had my baby, exercise is just as important to me.
As advised by my obstetrician, I waited for a week after the birth before I started doing gentle 20-minute workouts at home, though I’m avoiding abdominal exercises and jogging for a few weeks.
Various studies have proved that exercising during pregnancy and the three months after birth can also help minimise the likelihood of developing post-natal depression.
Now, three weeks after the birth, a welcome by-product of maintaining my fitness during pregnancy is that I’m already back in my size eight jeans.
None of this is done or said out of vanity. Like millions of women, I simply love the feeling of being fit and strong.
I was fortunate that I didn’t have complications during pregnancy and felt well so was able to continue to exercise.
I did my homework on the physiological changes that happen during pregnancy, poring over books on the subject, and seeking advice from my husband.
The last thing I would ever have compromised was the health of my unborn baby. Crucially, I listened to my body constantly. If I had days when I felt tired, I’d settle for walking the dog.
Consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician Clive Spence Jones agrees that I did the right thing. ‘If you’re inactive while pregnant then the chances are you’re going to gain excess weight,’ he says.
‘What’s required is a balanced diet and regular moderate exercise. I don’t advocate high-impact exercise such as skiing or contact sports. Most women shouldn’t stop exercising while pregnant.’
Advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also states that far from harming mother or unborn baby, being physically active is beneficial to both.
It recommends making activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, low-impact aerobics and gardening part of everyday life, and keeping sedentary spells to a minimum.
To my detractors, I’d like to point out the many confessions I have read from women this last week who say they bitterly regret putting their feet up and eating for two while pregnant, and wish they’d made the effort to be physically active – they have found it impossible to shift the masses of weight they gained and felt unfit when it came to the demands of a baby.
I’m proud to be the jogging mother and as Heidi grows up I want to be a great role model, ensuring that she experiences the physical and emotional benefits of being active at every stage of life.