Tis the season to be pregnant at KCF it seems…and I thought it fitting for mama’s day to write a little something that has been a work in progress for really the last four years when I started down the “baby journey”. Trying to navigate through pregnancy at the gym is no easy feat, and I’ll start by first throwing a health disclaimer that this is by no stretch a recommendation to be subbed out for your doctor’s orders re: exercise, and each pregnancy comes with its own special set of health concerns for mama and baby (there got that out of the way). We have such a wonderful community of recent mamas and seasoned mamas alike that are always happy to provide encouragement, wisdom or an ear to listen…so take advantage!
I hope this lil post can provide you with some new tools, or at minimum be a source of encouragement as you harvest life and try to find support along the way. People will certainly have opinions about your pregnancy, and CrossFitting is no exception. For this reason, I think it’s important/valuable to establish your beliefs and practices so you can stay the course and feel safe and confident as you continue pursuing your fitness journey.
There are not many studies published on pregnant women and exercise, and most of the data is which we have as general guidelines is fairly outdated (i.e.; 1970’s light walk/don’t get your heart rate past 160). There are however some good facts starting to come out in support of “Healthy Mama= Healthy Baby”, here are few quick facts:
- Experts say being inactive is a real hazard and can contribute to excess weight gain, blood pressure, aches and higher risk of gestational diabetes
- Babies of exercising mamas show heart rates to be lower and more variable (sign of heart health)
- Lowers risk of birth complications and speeds up recovery time after birth
- Can help build physical and emotional stamina for birth (no matter what your birth plan)
- Boosts mood, and keeps a sense of “community” and support/esp for CrossFit (this is just my fact)
For me personally, I scoured the internet looking for fact-based information about what was “okay and not okay” and never found the reassurance anywhere… and almost three babes later, I can say that it’s been constant balance of the following few mantras. While not necessarily scientific, they have been constant source of “self-check”:
- Listen to your body, and scale from your foundation, not someone else’s: Generally speaking, 50-60% of your normal CrossFit output is a happy space to live where you get all the benefits of movement and stimulus… without the unnecessary soreness, potential for injury, and mind f around “did I do too much?”
- Do a basic search for modifications to arm yourself with basic knowledge about the changes within first, second and third trimester and adjust accordingly. As an example, “TTB” may feel fine into your second trimester, but may be safer to modify to “KTE” or leg lift to avoid “coning” and Diastasis Recti to follow. Or learning to modify KB to protect your new center of gravity with Russian KB rather than American (also check the link resource below for modifications).
- No comparisons! This sort of goes hand in hand with number one, but especially in the environment of CrossFit, it’s all the more important to spare yourself how you look/feel/perform compared to other pregnant women at the gym, and of course non-pregnant people! Know yourself and check yourself consistently. If it helps to change the workouts altogether so as not to let your competitive switch turn on, there are resources for workouts and or other CrossFit mamas who post theirs on IG, and of course us mamas at the gym! (links below)
- Change your concept of rest/recovery/diet: In many cases you are not getting the same amount of rest you were once accustomed to (whether 1st or 7th baby;) so have some forethought and GRACE for yourself… geesh. Sleep and diet are both areas of importance not only for you and baby’s health, but also for your mental health. If you got broken sleep, less sleep…or just generally crap sleep, note how your body responds to the push, and LISTEN TO IT! Switch from the metcon or lift to a light active recovery day (i.e.; 60% intervals on rower, or airdyne) Sometimes you’ll find your body tells you that’s enough, or warms up emotionally and physically do to more than you were trying to FORCE before.
- “Life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon” (Thanks Ice Cube): Pregnancy is a season. A season to scale back, a season to feel empowered in new ways and maybe even meet/encourage new people around you. This ten months of adjustment comes with an additional set of adjustments from there forward, so treat it as a warmup for when baby comes.
After the baby:
The perils of grand disillusionment that you’ll just “bounce back” can be one of the most dangerous parts of motherhood. Listening to your body and respecting the recovery process is KEY and will ensure a safe and effective return back. Everyone comes back at varying rates, but 6 weeks (8 C-section) is the general recommendation for most. It’s a special time to enjoy your new great gift and allow yourself time to really heal if you need … and let others help you!
I made the mistake of trying to force the same movements too soon after pregnancy because they felt okay, not knowing they may contribute to incontinence or my diastisis after the fact.
Here are also some general modifications supported by prenatal CrossFit doulas, and CrossFit mama sites alike, and just general pregnant fitness resources:
Crossfit.com resources/articles: This one is MONEY for scaling:
Good Resources to follow for medical expert scaling/technique for pelvic floor modifications:
I hope some/any of this can be helpful for you, and as with anything else in our community. Happy Mother’s Day to all you BADA$$ women! (and men who support them;)
Keep on Keepin’ On,