Every pregnancy is unique. Some women experience morning sickness, cravings, and mood swings, while others breeze through those 40 weeks feeling great.
But one thing almost every mother-to-be can expect is to get a lot of advice from family, friends, and even strangers, about what to do, or not do, during pregnancy.
Take it from these five moms who threw caution to the wind and did things their own way. You might get called “crazy” for exercising, not exercising, or believing old wives’ tales. But as these mamas can attest: When it comes to pregnancy, you have to do you.
I taught kickboxing until I was 35 weeks pregnant
People told me I was crazy for teaching kickboxing during my fourth pregnancy. A little background: I’d been teaching cardio kickboxing classes for close to 10 years when we learned we were expecting our fourth baby. I felt good in the first trimester, with minimal morning sickness. So with my doctor’s blessing, I kept teaching two to four classes each week. It also helped boost circulation in my varicose vein-ridden legs.
As I got bigger, I won’t lie, I would have preferred parking myself on the couch in the evenings instead of heading to class. I promised myself I would quit the first time I finished a class and didn’t feel good.
I continued to make modifications to accommodate that ever-growing belly, but the regular workouts did wonders for my mood and kept me feeling strong, too.
I taught classes up until week 35. Then I felt too ungainly to keep going as the instructor, and switched to taking classes instead. That way, I could modify heavily and slow down the pace.
I gained the least amount of weight with that pregnancy, around 19 pounds. But my baby measured well, and my doctor was fine with my activity level. I’m sure that staying active for so long helped me during my delivery, which was the fastest and easiest of all four pregnancies. My recovery was easier, too.
I went back to class two weeks after my baby was born, just to stretch my legs and have a little time to myself. I wasn’t moving as fast as the rest of the class, but it felt great to get my blood pumping again. And within about six weeks, I was back to teaching classes again.
- Jessica Timmons, mom of four
I went to Las Vegas for my babymoon
People told me I was crazy for going to Las Vegas while pregnant. “What will you do?” they asked. They then proceeded to list all of the things I shouldn’t do while pregnant: hang out in smoky casinos, walk around in the heat, and drink alcohol.
It turns out, there’s more to do in Vegas than gamble and drink alcohol, and it ended up being the perfect babymoon.
When my husband and I planned our babymoon, I had three criteria: a pool, warm nights, and delicious virgin cocktails. As it turned out, Vegas ticked all of my boxes and more.
My husband found a quiet, smoke-free hotel right on the strip that offered prenatal spa treatments. Hello, relaxation! Every building was air-conditioned and the hotel had a pool, so staying cool was easy. I was also able to do a lot of things that will be difficult the first several years of my baby’s life, like going to the theater and eating at fancy, kid-free restaurants. Some of the casinos were a little too smoky for me, but there’s so much more to see than the casino floors. Plus, I now have really fun photos of my bump in Paris, Venice, and New York, all thanks to the city-themed casinos.
The best part about going to Las Vegas while pregnant was the virgin cocktails. Every bar and restaurant I went to had an extensive alcohol-free cocktail list, so I never felt like I was missing out. And you know what, I saw several other couples enjoying a babymoon in Vegas, so I guess going there while pregnant isn’t that crazy after all.
- Megan Severs, mom of one
I ran a half marathon while pregnant
People told me I was crazy for training to run a half marathon during my first trimester of pregnancy. Truth be told, now that I'm pregnant with my second child, I sort of agree it was a crazy thing to do. Back then, I had a good base mileage and years of running distance races under my belt before lining up to the start line. I had gotten pregnant easily and had no complications or muscle discomforts that affected my running. Still, I experienced horrible morning sickness and exhaustion. But I’d always powered through my prescribed workouts, rain or shine.
The day of the race, I hit the 13-week mark in my pregnancy. I woke up and vomited (as usual). I couldn't figure out what to eat to ease my nerves, but I managed to stuff down a granola bar and some applesauce. It was raining, cold, and otherwise dreary. Still, I laced up my shoes, ran a warmup 1/2 mile, and got into my corral. When the gun went off, I started slow and steady, just like I’d trained. My nausea faded. I drank water at every stop and used the portable potties every 1 or 2 miles for the duration of the race. Generally? I felt great running with baby on board.
I crossed the finish line in just under two hours and 10 minutes, a far cry from my previous 1:42 personal best. Yet this race had so much more significance to me than any other. So much of what I worried about leading into motherhood revolved around losing my identity. Here I was, though, still a runner and also a to-be mom. The two weren't mutually exclusive!
- Ashley Marcin, mom of one
I practiced crazy old wives’ tales to find out my baby’s gender
People told me I was crazy while I was pregnant after I convinced myself that I was having a boy. So here’s a secret: When I found out I was pregnant, I hoped it was a girl. Growing up with a younger sister and five female cousins, I felt like raising a boy would be so foreign, scary even. I never told anyone this, not even my husband. I didn't want to sound ungrateful for a healthy pregnancy.
As a new mom, it's hard not to read every single thing about gender prediction on the internet. I consulted my Chinese horoscope, waved a wedding ring on a string over my belly, and documented what kinds of foods I was craving. My friends and family members all agreed I was having a girl because of how large and puffy I was. But of course, I didn't believe it — I must be having a boy because I wanted a girl so badly.
I repeatedly told myself that it was a boy. I think it was a protective mechanism so I wouldn't end up being disappointed. I just had a feeling, a motherly instinct. Even after two ultrasounds confirming the gender, I would hesitate to tell others it was a girl because it could always be wrong. Ultrasounds can be tricky, and I was skeptical because all the other old wives’ tales predicting gender pointed to the fact that I must be carrying a boy. Or so I thought…
Nine months later, our baby was born, and I could no longer argue that we were having a girl, after all.
- Natasha Freutel, mom of one
I didn’t exercise during my pregnancy
Coming off of wedding planning, I’d been running 3 miles a couple times a week, taking a spin class every other day, and lunging around the apartment complex. I was fit, I was wedding-ready, and apparently fertile!
When I got pregnant soon after, I was dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum. A lot of people told me to “work it off,” and even went so far as to suggest that exercise would alleviate the nausea. This was a big no for me.
The last thing that sounds good when you’re expunging your latest meal every 20 minutes is a hearty cardio routine. Kudos to the women who get all the way through pregnancy by staying active. But pregnancy is about doing what feels good to you. If that means practicing some pregnancy yoga in the morning and taking it easy the rest of the time, just do it. Everybody is unique, and every pregnancy is unique. And if the Gisele wannabes don’t get that? Take that extra Netflix time on the couch with your sweetie and let it go.
- Lindsey Gudritz, mom of one
It’s important to follow your own heart during pregnancy. But always talk to your doctor before participating in physical activities or travel. They’ll be able to advise you about what’s safest for you and your baby-to-be.