I knew it! I knew it I knew it I knew it! Okay, maybe I didn’t actually know it, but I suspected and hoped and played all sorts of mind games to convince myself that it was true. And now, I have validation: Exercising during pregnancy actually strengthens the baby’s heart as well as the mother’s.
This news brings back all sorts of thoughts and feelings I experienced when I was pregnant. With Manchild, whenever I went running or swimming, I would try to use that time to bond with him. I ran around Laie, in the rain and the heat and thought things like, “You’re going to be such a smart, strong little boy. I love you so much. Your dad loves you so much,” in the general direction of my growing fetus. The mushy thoughts would, I hoped, counteract any harm I was inflicting by running with him in utero. I was slightly worried that the exercise was hurting his little developing body and I tried to make up for it by reassuring him that I really did love him, even if I was ruining his life before he even took a breath. There was a lot of fear, some guilt, and plenty of hope that went with me on those pregnant runs.
And then he was born and he was strong and healthy and perfect and I said to myself, It must have been the running.
So with Squish I didn’t really worry as much. I told myself if I wanted a baby as strong and healthy as Manchild was, I needed to keep running. And I did. But I kept up the internal “dialogue,” too, in case it was really the mushy thoughts that did it. There was less fear, less guilt, and more hope, but I still wondered and worried if I was helping or harming my little fetus.
The results of this study put my mind at ease a little bit more. Babies’ hearts are strengthened when mom works out. They continue to be stronger after birth. My fingers are crossed that the effects last through toddlerhood as well. And also that I’ll be able to run (or swim, or whatever) through any subsequent pregnancies I may experience.