Our newly launched curated fitness programs are inspired by the fitness routines of new and expecting Mamas we love. The 30-day programs are completely customized taking their current fitness level and personal preferences into account as well as what stage they are in their motherhood journey.
Ashley Laracey is a soloist with the New York City Ballet, a new Mom to twin girls, and a self-proclaimed straight-A student when it comes to all things pregnancy and motherhood. So how was her pregnancy and how is she finding the shift to Motherhood? We had a chat to find out what it’s like from a professional athlete’s point of view.
FPC: Being a professional ballerina with the NYCB, was it hard for you to find the “right time” to have children?
AL: We decided in February that we would try. I had read this book about taking charge of your fertility, not because we were having issues but I just wanted to be prepared. There is a chapter about how you can determine the sex of your child. I did not want to have a boy. My brother went to jail and I worried that would happen—it was my own stigma and not something that is logical, of course—so I read the chapter because I really wanted a girl. It’s about charting your ovulations and things like that. I was terrified, you try your whole life not to have a child. I took a pregnancy test that turned out to be negative, but I felt that there was no way I wasn’t pregnant. I was really tired when dancing and my breasts hurt, it just felt different.
A few days later I found out that I was pregnant! I had a doctor’s appointment at six weeks and the hormone levels were pretty high, but we never anticipated there were two of them in there. As a dancer I am pretty in tune with my body and I felt that there was something more. When I had my ultrasound at 9 weeks, I saw it before the doctor did! I was like, “does it mean that there are two of them in there?” And there might have been some other words that were expressed (haha!). I was shocked because there are no twins in my family. Then I learned that after 35 your chances of having twins or multiples increases, and I conceived at 35!
FPC: Twins are quite the surprise! How did you take care of yourself during your pregnancy?
AL: I ate really healthy because I heard gestational diabetes is common in twin pregnancies. I really wanted to avoid that. I read a lot of books about eating during twin pregnancies and I had to have 180 grams of protein a day, which is so insane! I also had to eat 4000 calories [a day]. I had a friend who lost a twin so I was just trying to do everything by the books to avoid that as best I could. I was definitely a straight-A student. I was exercising but not too much. I was really trying to find that balance.
FPC: When did you stop dancing, if at all?
AL: I stopped performing when I was 14.5 weeks pregnant and stopped dancing completely around 16-20 weeks because at that point it almost felt like the babies were going to escape my body. It was the longest I had been away from dancing.
FPC: How many times a week do you workout? How long are your workouts?
AL: After the babies were born, I was really excited about getting back to the stage but I was also a Mom. I jumped into cardio, pilates and swimming. Once Covid hit I started doing a lot of stuff online. I got one of the Peloton bikes through an offer and I do a lot of dance classes. With the twins it’s definitely harder to find the time but I typically workout one hour every day. Sometimes I’ll do a ballet class in the morning before my husband starts his work day or I’ll do an online pilates class during their nap time.
FPC: Do you feel like you have to sweat to get a good workout?
AL: I really enjoy sweating. I am definitely one of those people that likes to sweat to feel like I got a good workout. When I dance I even dress in additional layers to ensure that I sweat a lot!
FPC: Do you prefer to use your own bodyweight or do you use weights too?
AL: I do like weights. During the pregnancy I definitely used them. I did FPC and they tell you to use the 8 LBS weights since that is likely going to be the approximate weight of your baby. But I had two 5-6 lbs babies so I stuck to mostly 5 lbs then because I knew I would have two!
FPC: Are you familiar with our Pump & Kegel®?
AL: Yes, and I believe the belly pump [FPC] taught me saved me from developing diastasis recti. It was one of my studious goals. My belly was ginormous and I am not sure how I didn’t get it because most twin moms do, but I am really thankful for the FPC belly pump. It really, really helped. I did it through the end of my pregnancy.
FPC: The belly bump is crucial. Did you enjoy being pregnant?
AL: Looking back I can’t complain, I had a great twin pregnancy and I made it to 37 weeks and 7 days. Then I was induced because it was a twin pregnancy. But my pregnancy was hard, I ended up carrying over 11 lbs of baby, I gained 36 pounds which is not a lot, but for my body it was a lot of weight to carry around so I didn’t necessarily love being pregnant.
FPC: What was the hardest part about being pregnant?
AL: Maybe because I had twins, there were so many scary milestones we had to meet. I’m sure that it’s the same for single pregnancies, but because I had twins I got a monthly ultrasound and it was really scary. At one point I remember that one of them had an enlarged kidney, so I stressed the whole month about that. Next month the belly was too small for one of them. There were so many things to worry about each month.
FPC: Well, now that we know that they’re happy and healthy little girls, tell us about your proudest moment?
AL: I think my proudest moment was two months ago when I was in the city alone with them. We have been very fortunate to have a lot of time together, and my husband always helps out during bedtime and bath time, it has really been a joint adventure. That night he wasn’t going to make it home and I had them alone all day and night. I managed to feed them and bath them both all by myself! It was a really pleasant experience, but I prepped a lot beforehand so I wasn’t stressed. I realized at that moment that I can do this, it is really great to have help putting them down but I can do it! It was no drama. I was also able to get back to performing and am still able to make it home to put them to bed!
FPC: That’s amazing! How has Covid changed your life?
AL: [My husband and I] are both employed at NYCB, but were furloughed in March. We had hired a nanny right before the pandemic, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to employ her because we are currently not making any money. She has worked with us occasionally when we’ve done side projects but fortunately we’ve had family to help.
FPC: What does balance mean to you? Has becoming a parent changed you?
AL: I think I have more life balance now that I’m a mom than I did before. Before becoming a Mother, dance had a really strong hold on me. Since I decided to cut that cord and become a mom I feel that things are much more in line with what I like them to be and I feel happier as a person. Mainly because I’m not focused on myself; how I look in the mirror, or how this looks on me. It’s more about the babies and how we are as a family. It’s obviously a struggle and sometimes I don’t take care of myself as I should—you’re feeding the babies and forget to eat yourself. Once I get rid of pumping I will feel a lot more centered too. It’s definitely a commitment, but I feel more balanced than I did before I had children!
FPC: Lastly, tell us about your ideal Saturday? What do you do for self-care?
AL: I guess family time is really important to us since we’ve had the babies. My ideal day would include balance, so having time to myself but not too much, just more time to walk or exercise, or even just to make a phone call to a friend. A lot of my friends recently had babies so we all have crazy lives. It’s great when we can catch up! I would love that and spending time with my babies and husband as a family. That’s really special and of course, if I could perform at the end of the day too that would be amazing!
This month you can also enjoy free recipes from Nouri, a ready-to-eat meal company offering whole, nourishing meals for each stage of motherhood. OB-GYN recommended, chef curated, ready-to-eat.