Monday, June 14, 2010

Will I Boil My Baby's Brain?

My last post about my plan for cautious levels of pregnancy running that were still not as conservative as the safety level of my doctor's initial heart rate recommendation ("keep it below 140") got mixed responses.  The harshest, although I know it was said out of the spirit of caring, was one anonymous comment who actually included the statement, " would you feel if the extra outdoor exertion cooked your baby's brain just a little?"

Wow.  I was pretty upset for a while about this comment.  I'm trying to take the best care of both me and my baby and add the mental guilt that whatever you do could cause something to go wrong with the baby.  I'm in a place where I'm damned no matter what I do. 

I could go with the opinion of this anonymous comment who from the rest of the comments represents to me the more old-fashioned approach to pregnancy to treat the 9 months where you are an "incubator" (sorry, anonymous, if I got that wrong, and if you don't feel that way, no worries, I've still met several who do!). This train of thought has me wanting to sit on the couch or hide in my bed for fear that anything I do will hurt the baby.

The other side has me leading a more active pregnancy and then the possibility that something goes wrong with the baby, and the rest of the world (thanks to me giving my thoughts a public forum) and I would think that this decision was the cause - even if it wasn't.

At first after reading this person's opinion, I told my husband, maybe no running at all, not a stitch, is the best thing to do.  Listen to the doctor, which, I still think stupidly, would mean I can't keep my heart rate low enough at any running pace .  So walking would still be in, and cross training, but not my favorite spot, even at low intensity.

Then, I thought I should keep doing the cautious yet still a little above 140 heart rate running I wanted to do, and I would just become very private and hide my activities from the world - no posts about running, no blogging, and hope no one asks me directly so I don't have to lie.  If anything did go wrong with the baby, no one would immediately point to the fact that it HAD to be because I ran because they wouldn't know I was.  But another mom I confided in told me this wasn't right.  She'd seen how seriously I'd been weighing my options and thought I ultimately knew what was best and safe for my body, and thought I needed to stand up for all those women, even active ones we have seen, who are too afraid to stay active during pregnancy because "what if" could happen.  I felt like I'm always the one who ends up vulnerable on the front lines fighting battles, but in the end, maybe that's my purpose and role in some people's lives, to be the soldier on the front lines for whatever topic they need me there for.

In the end, I'm most comfortable to continue talking through what's happening with me, and I will welcome all variety of comments, but let's be honest, some will sting.  I have an appointment with the doctor Wednesday to talk through the heart rate ranges I've seen in my various levels of activity and see if the 140 rule still holds absolutely.

I've run or walked three times since my last blog post.  I met up with a group Friday night at 9 pm and did 4.25 miles.  I'd keep my heart rate at 160 max and worked in plenty of walk breaks to bring it back down so it never stayed there too long.  I'd wanted to shoot for 6 miles but it was still almost 90 degrees, so while I was smart about picking that run because no sun, cooler, less humidity than running during the day, I was still cautious.

Sunday, I walked 2.07 miles on my way to and from my spot cheering at Mile 12 of the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon.  And then today, I ran/walked 1.22 miles at 9 am - kept it short because I'd accidentally walked out the door without remembering the heart rate monitor so I didn't like that I didn't know how my heart was doing, and it was just plain hot.


  1. Hey, you should check out the pregnancy forum on Runner's World. I remember reading about a woman who ran about 35 miles a week well into the third trimester and the baby turned out just fine. Maybe we're supposed to *bake* (instead of using the word cook) the babies brain just a little and that's why we use the term "bun in the oven" :)

  2. Hello, Libby - while not a doctor (and not playing one on television, either!) I think you're going to do just fine through this pregnancy. Somehow, the golden mean seems to be the most sensible approach, in my humble opinion; engage in enough physical activity to keep you from going insane, at an effort level where you enjoy yourself.

    I'm certain there are vast (and perhaps too many!) resources at your disposal. Remember the most important things:
    1. You are a population sample of one.
    2. Doctors are ALWAYS going to err on the side of conservative.

    Hugs to you, your hubby and Marissa from Suzanne & me (a.k.a. the "Gulf Coast Grandparent-Types").

  3. you are much nicer to the anonymous poster than most would be. I thought that "anonymous" was much too harsh. It would be different if it was someone who you knew or who was willing to give his/her name. I honestly think that you are taking such a great approach and being conservative while still taking care of yourself.

    The funny thing is... it never ends. The conflicting opinions don't stop after the baby is born. From vax/no vax, whole milk/low fat, organic/non-organic etc. We just do the best we can with the information available and our own instincts. Somehow, our kids turn out ok.


  4. I've got no real constructive thoughts for you on this, but if you google Happy Runner (if you don't follow her already), she's 5 months preggo and still running races. Maybe you can hook up with her for some advice? Just an idea.

    Agreed - I think we do the best we can without going insane. I'm sure you could also find research to prove just about anything - junk food/processed food can't be great for baby's development either, but I'm sure you won't see a movement for that any time soon. Be safe, be conservative, listen to your body - I think you can get through it.