Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Carry That Weight

I was recently talking with a friend who is thinking about getting pregnant. She asked me what my best piece of advice for her would be, what one thing she should know before getting pregnant. I don't think I even had to hesitate. My advice for her and for anyone undertaking pregnancy for the first time would be to get in shape. Get yourself as healthy as possible before you conceive because pregnancy is probably the hardest thing your body will ever do.

I'm not an expert in terms of any credentials I have, but I've seen two pregnancies through and I've done it both ways. I have more than a few thoughts on the subject and more than a little advice to offer.

So, I thought I might start sharing a few of the things that worked for me and the things that didn't. If I can help someone else avoid the esteem crushing battle I faced to lose weight following Brendan's birth, I am overjoyed to do so.


Suz said...

Please do! It will further reinforce my decision not to have children! :) Compounding my complete lack of desire for a child, Dave is convinced that given our respective ages, ours would have autism, and given both our experience dealing with the educational impact of that, we do NOT want to go there!

Dawn said...

I'm certainly not trying to sway you or anyone else into having children, but I will say that the evidence linking advanced parental age and autism isn't resounding.

As far as I know, there has only been one study making that link. An Israeli study that looked at medical records of members of the Israeli military found a rate of 8.3 cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder per 10,000 individuals. That doesn't seem all that high to me.

Of course, the study does link the quality of paternal genetic material whereas most chromosomal abnormalities and studies regarding those look primarily at the maternal influence, e.g. Down Syndrome is primarily linked to advanced maternal age. So, if you combine maternal and paternal age, you might have slightly higher rates.

And all that said, by virtue of understanding the ins and outs of the legal and educational systems, you would have an advantage over parents who simply have to figure it out on their own.

Suz said...

Given the explosion in autism PERIOD, for parents of all ages, it's scary enough for me. The legal and educational aspects of the disorder are not even the tip of the iceburg.

I suppose I have a skewed perspective, since all I do all day is work on legal problems in educating students with disabilities, reading their evaluations, talking about their classroom performance, what have you, that I think of the worst.

But I don't think that's why I have no desire to have children. I don't know why I don't, but I doubt it's 10 years working in special education law! And given Dave's son's behavior of late, I'd say I have a child on my hands who will need plenty of my attention, given HIS disabilities.

Dawn said...

Oh, I certainly understand. And I respect and admire that you are so clear with regard to what you want.

Having children, as you might guess I'd say, is challenging when you love and want them, when you feel that you are called to be a parent.

I don't get people who don't really want kids or don't feel strongly about having kids who choose to have them because they think it's what they're supposed to do or they view it as some sort of status symbol.

I'm thrilled that I get to be a mom, but if I weren't I can't imagine doing it.

And even if your kids don't have a physical or mental challenge, life is still scary, dangerous, and full of risks. You just have to accept, trust, and believe that there is a higher purpose to every challenge you're going through at the moment. You may never be clear on what that purpose is, but somewhere, someone will one day have benefited from your struggles.

Suz said...

That's just it! I have never had even a twinge of desire for children, other than for about 3 months when I was 24 years old. Now I'm about to turn 35, prime stereotypical age for the biological clock, and still have zero urge. So why do it?

A. said...

I agree. Getting in shape is the best thing you can do pre-pregnancy. I was told/read somewhere that each day you are pregnant, your body does the equivalent of climbing a mountain. It is exhausting work, this growing a baby stuff!

Dawn said...

I've read that, too. That the extra blood volume your body creates to support the pregnancy requires your heart to pump at a rate equivalent to what is required to climb a mountain.

Amazing what the body can do, isn't it? But it does exact a toll. My hips seemed to feel all the extra weight and my lower back.

That's why I believe you will only be helping yourself to strengthen all those muscles that support the back before conceiving. I still have twinges of hip pain post pregnancy that I never felt before. It's getting better as I become more flexible and stronger, but I wish that I'd known what I know now when I was younger.