First off, ice climbing post pregnancy. I am part of a very helpful and very inspiring forum of strong willed women who love adventure and some of them are mums. As luck would have it, some of them are also climbers.
My question was: how realistic is it for me to think I’ll be able to go on an ice climbing trip 2 – 3 months’ post birth. The answers were mostly that it’s unlikely or if you do go don’t have plans of doing anything big. The general theme was to expect the unexpected as having a baby is a major life shift, plus all babies are different. The comments the ladies made we so helpful and so insightful. It’s lovely to have so many inspiring women to be totally and brutally honest with me! Honesty is so important, in all walks of life, but I find it especially important now. To hear how strong and amazing all of these women have been when having a baby has been truly inspiring and it’s given me real hope.
I guess in all honesty I won’t know how I will feel or be post birth until I am there. I’m currently hoping that the birth etc… will go smoothly. That we can have a home birth with no complications, that I can be walking round the next day and doing more after 6 weeks (6 weeks seems to be the guideline), that I won’t have any pelvic floor issues or core issues, that I can breastfeed, that I can express milk as and when necessary and that I won’t be too tired to do anything. Aim high and all that. However, in reality, I have no life experiences I can compare this to and so all this is just hope, best wishes and nice ideas. As the ladies have pointed out: I’ll be tired, I may be unwell, I may have a c section (which is a major operation), the baby may not take to a bottle, I may not be able to express milk and so forth and so on. I have no idea. However, when I have no idea how something will turn out my general way of dealing with it is to prepare as much as possible and go with my gut instinct. I look at all the possible outcomes and make plans for each outcome. It doesn’t mean that I do not hope and work towards my ideal goal, but it does mean that I am as prepared for all eventualities as possible.
To that end, I am trying to stay as fit as possible, eat as well as possible and get as informed as possible, but I am still entering into an unknown environment so I am also trying to approach it with an open mind and the composure to accept that plans may change.
I do feel that by staying as fit as I can I am stacking the odds in my favour. I could sit on my ass for 9 months, but that isn’t best for me or the baby. I believe that being as mentally and physically prepared for this as possible is going to give me the best chance. For me that is staying fit, staying positive and getting informed as that is a mantra I try to live my life by.
I am also determined to keep hold of as much of my old life as possible, as much of myself as possible and that includes climbing. I do not see being pregnant or being a mum as being the defining feature of my life. I want my child to see that mum (and dad) are people with lives and passions and ambitions so that they have lives and passions and ambitions. I want us to be role models for the child. We are a unit, a family and do things together, but we also have the chance to do things by ourselves, follow our own dreams and lead our own lives. I think this will breed independence and confidence which are two of the qualities I want to instil in the child so that they can grab as much of life as possible. Be brave, dream big.
To try and maintain my life I have been climbing once to twice a week since week 14 of the pregnancy. Doing yoga twice a week and trying, wherever possible, to walk as many days as possible (ideally every day although not always achieved). I am also trying to get in as many squats as possible – loading/unloading the dishwasher, loading/unloading the washing machine, picking something up etc…. I am trying to keep fitness and exercise as part of my life so that it stays normal and is not a chore.
So, we went climbing last night and I did a few routes and some bouldering. I mostly did overhangs as I want to try and keep doing them for as long as possible. Even with a small bump and not much added weight they are getting harder, but I can still do them! My core is not as strong, as mentioned before, and I felt generally weak last night, but I still went and I still climbed. I am going to have to adjust and adapt and change and amend, but I can do that and I have to do that if I want to carry on doing the things I love.
Unfortunately, in the night I woke up to the cramping pain again. It was enough to wake me up so it was enough for me to call the midwife in the morning to see if it was something to worry about or not. She explained round ligament pain to me in more detail and reassured me that this is common. Plus, as I was exercising the night before this could then have led to the issues in the night. She told me what to watch out for (bleeding, temperature etc..), but the general advice was that this is normal and just to suck it up. Another joy of pregnancy by the looks of it.
I Googled the muscles/ligaments I was using for overhangs and sure enough it was the ones causing an issue in the night.
Muscles used for climbing overhangs: Abdominals
The abdominal muscles are used primarily as stabilizers when climbing. However, when you start climbing overhangs, the abs are flexed and called into play to keep your legs attached to the rock face. When climbing overhangs, the abs are held in an isometric contraction for extended periods of time to keep the pelvis in line with the chest, which will help alleviate the load the forearms, biceps and back must carry.
So again, I am in the position that my body is changing so I am having to change with it. I am not stopping what I am doing, but I am having to adjust how I am doing it. I am also getting more informed about how my body is reacting to the exercise and the pregnancy which is making me more confident about the process.
I am, at the moment, staying true to myself and I hope that I can stay true to this as things move forwards.
After the baby is born will I be going to Rjukan ice climbing? Yes. I may not go in the February immediately after the birth, but I am going to go at some point. In the meantime, I am going to keep climbing, keep running, keep doing yoga, keep researching all this and keep as positive as possible.
Plus I always have my Tribe to turn to for advice, support, suggestions, ideas and a good slap round the face when it’s needed.