I'll admit it: After I learned that I was pregnant, I told exercise to take a hike. It may not have been the best move for my body, but I wasn't in a place where I could do more than go on daily walks. I was a full-time grad student who also working as a freelance writer and college assistant. My plate was packed. But after watching this video of Serena Williams playing tennis while pregnant, I realized one thing: We shouldn't do more than our pregnant bodies can handle.
Williams, unlike me, is a tennis champion who has dedicated her life to the sport. She has conditioned her body to be strong, fierce, and limber. Williams was fit going into her pregnancy, so it's not a surprise that she is able to play tennis while in her third trimester. She's an amazing powerhouse.
I, on the other hand, was not fit going into my pregnancy. Sure, I was strong and could knock out 175 squats no problem, but I also couldn't run more than a mile without seriously getting winded (granted, that's mostly because of asthma). My body was in so much pain during pregnancy, even doing prenatal downward dog hurt.
I'm making this comparison for an important reason. Pregnant people are pressured to stay fit during the nine months of baby-carrying. They're also shamed by doctors, parents, and other pregnant people if they don't exercise — or if they exercise "too much." Everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing with your pregnant body, which only leaves you with guilt that can linger years after childbirth.
Yes, doctors do recommend you stay physically active during pregnancy. But here's the thing: Physically activity looks different for everyone. For Williams, that means playing tennis. For me, that meant walking everywhere and carrying heavy video equipment for hours at a time.
Still, not everyone can stay active. Anytime I write or talk about fitness and pregnancy, I stress this one point: every body is different. There are so many reasons why you may not exercise, including that you do not want to. And no one has the right to make you feel bad about that.
As for Williams, she's an inspiration. Her tenacity, her strength, her confidence, and her intelligence make her such a compelling and engaging person. While it's fascinating to watch her play tennis in that video, it's not because she's months into her pregnancy. It's because she is a freaking superstar who continues to blow her competition out of the water. She built her body for any condition, and it's OK that your's is not.