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“Going from 5-6 days per week workouts, strength training in the morning & CrossFit in the afternoons, coaching 5 group classes per day, & wearing the “owner hat” at a year-old affiliate isn’t all in the cards anymore at 7 months pregnant. The workout priority now is just to move! Accepting that physically, my body has more important things to focus on, has been a growth point for me. Seeing what my body is naturally capable of is far more impressive than any weight I can lift or movement I perform. And, when approached the right way, CrossFit can be a perfect fit for an active & healthy pregnancy!”
I taught physical education to 900 kids per week in a school in Philly for a decade. I joked for years that teaching was the best birth control one could ever ask for! When I left my job in 2015, I was burnt out. Leaving the emotional stress of teaching was easy, but I would find myself missing the gym class adventures with the children. Now nearly 4 years later, I’m about to have some new adventures with our own little one (arriving May 2019), the gym life, & my new role as “Mom”.
Now, I know that people plan for months – even years – before they try for babies. Our happiest surprise caught us off guard and I was clueless about what this meant for me and the changes I was going to go through and continue to go through over the next 9 months. Particularly, I wanted to know how this was going to affect me as a CrossFitter. I’ve coached expecting athletes, worked out with them throughout their pregnancies, but never experienced first-hand what it feels like to CrossFit while pregnant. All I can say is KUDOS!
Below is a couple of things I learned over the last 7 months that may help a momma-to-be stay motivated, get through her workout, or even help a coach better understand what is going on with a pregnant athlete’s body when they workout.
GOOD NEWS! CrossFit is SAFE and BENEFICIAL to you & your baby.
Of course, it is always best to check with your doctors/care providers that you are in the clear to continue your exercise routine. If you have a high risk pregnancy, you may need to scale it back. Ask your doctor – they know what’s best!
If you have been working out regularly in CrossFit classes, then most likely, you are good to keep up your routine even through the early stages of pregnancy. Your body will feel a little more taxed and tired (especially through the first trimester) as you are working hard to create a brand new person.
Buckle up for this 9-month partner WOD ladies! Your times may be a slower & your weights might feel heavier but for now, keep showing up and putting in you have to give!
Moves to Avoid
As you get into your second trimester, you may be feeling *almost* normal as your energy levels increase, the reality of your pregnancy sets in, & the excitement of planning for your new addition it is full gear.
As your bump grows, the list of movements that you should avoid during CrossFit will also grow. It’s important to have this information so you and your baby can get the most from your workouts. “Coning” is something to be aware of as you get further into your pregnancy. Doing movements that put too much stress on the abdominal muscles can sometimes cause a ridge or bulge to show up in your midline just above your belly button. Be sure you keep an eye on this as it can lead to seperation in the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti). Even rowing & pressing overhead can lead to coning. Kipping exercises, sit-ups, crunches, & bench press are a few items to nix due to this as well. Push-ups, burpees, and other movements that require you to hit the deck with your torso contacting to the floor should also be avoided.
There are various creative ways to scale these movements to still get the health benefits of performing them. Do some research with your coaches & find out what your options are! Even preggo-wods can be constantly varied!
Moves to Incorporate
Squat. Squat. Squat! Oh, and did I mention, squatting? As if you didn’t already know, squatting is extremely beneficial to everyone – even us mommas-to-be. The muscles we use when we squat are also recruited during labor. The stronger they are, the better they can respond when called upon on delivery day.
As your belly grows, squats can still be performed by adjusting the depth of the squat or, if you are squatting with weight, keep it to a comfortable load. Sumo position (feet outside of the shoulders) is great when you get into the late second & third trimester. Your center of gravity will change from your non-preggo self so play around with your stance to find what works!
Stretching, mobility work, and yoga are also great to add to your workout routine while expecting. CrossFit on its own can keep you fit and moving but adding in a yoga class or gentle mobility work will help with your ever-changing body. It can also help you relieve round ligament pain as your joints naturally stretch to make way for baby’s arrival.
The Most Important Rule
You are probably tired of hearing this by now – from your doctors, your mom, your coworkers, the stranger in the grocery store… LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Sure, you know yourself, your limits & strengths. But, if you aren’t already keen to the fact that over the course of these 9 months, you will feel like a stranger in your own body, you’d better get used to tuning into the transformation process.
When nature takes over, the female body does miraculous things. Things shift & change on a daily basis, you feel uncomfortable doing the simplest tasks – like riding the struggle bus trying to tie your shoes – or just get them on your swollen feet! You slow down drastically as your belly grows at record speeds, and you never really know how you might feel in the day-to-day. Take some time to tune in to the fact that your body & your baby will give you signs of when you needs rest, when you need food (all the time lol), and when you are feeling up to working out.
Listen to your body.