Individuals who have reproduced small humans know how hard pregnancy can be. If it’s your first there’s all kinds of things to worry about, and if it’s your second or more, there may be different things to think about.
Increasingly though, there’s been lots of public commentary about pregnancy being equal to fat and there is great pressure post birth to get rid of the baby weight as fast as possible. So on top of emotional pressures and shifts with pregnancy and childbirth, we have social pressures to look a certain way while pregnant and also to return to a one’s pre-pregnant state with a combination of diets and extremes in exercise.
I’m not saying we should become sloths when reproducing. There’s been a big shift in removing taboos about pregnancy (thank heaven’s the wearable pregnancy tent has disappeared from the pregnancy fashion closet), Lots of gestating people maintain their regular fitness regime and some even run marathons while pregnant.
All this to say I was happy to read about new research considering the impact pregnancy has on a body. The study measured the amount of energy a person can use consistently over time. The researchers concluded that:
“there is an upper limit to the amount of energy that human bodies can expend consistently over time. This limit is consistent with other work that has been done on endurance athletes who compete in shorter competitions, and nearly the same as those of people who are pregnant and lactating. Together, these two factors suggest that there’s a ceiling to the amount of energy humans can expend for a period of time—and pregnancy pushes these limits, too.”
What does this mean? In the same way athletes must take time to recover what they have expended be it endurance, strength, etc post training for an extreme competition, , pregnant women need recovery too. Doing too much, too soon post birth can impede recovery, leading to little energy available for looking after the newly minted tiny human.
It was funny to open the article with a question asking which is harder: doing the Tour de France or carrying a baby to term. The answer is both. One caveat though; the study had a small sample size. Still the conclusions are interesting and could spark greater research about the gestating body.