Growing a baby is a miraculous thing. A tiring, emotional, exciting, frustrating, miraculous thing. I am currently full-term, so the positive attitude is gradually transitioning to impatience. I’m ready to get this nugget out of my abdominal cavity and resume my normal bodily functions. Of course I want to meet her, but I also want to flop onto my stomach for a standard burpee. Many moms-to-be experience a great deal of confusion when it comes to their physical activity during pregnancy. I’m not a doctor, nor am I a health expert, but I’d like to share my personal journey to give the ladies out there a frame of reference that’s based on experience rather than broad generalizations formulated from assessments of the general public.
I have a toddler. He’s 4 1/2 years old, and healthy as a horse. During my pregnancy with him, I was cautious to the point of paranoia. I’d been running regularly and doing my own thing at the globo-gym, but stopped almost all-together the moment I found out I was growing a human being. My doctor said that I was clear to participate in anything I’d been doing previously, with the exception of anything potentially hazardous to my pelvic area. She suggested paying close attention to my heart rate, body temperature, and any dizziness paired with exercise. I decided I’d rather be safe than sorry, and walked a few times per week. I struggled with pretty serious fatigue, morning sickness, achy limbs, and a generally dismal state of mind. It was a long and draining process, but I made it through with a healthy baby boy.
I worked really hard to get back into shape. I ate well and began running again, but then I discovered CrossFit. It was a whole new world. It took my body from good (“for a mom,” as some people like to say – my pet peeve), to better than it’d ever been in high school or college. I developed strength and endurance I didn’t know I was capable of. And to top it off, it gave me a sense of pride and empowerment…a whole new state of mind. Then, my outstanding fertility did it again, and suddenly I was pregnant. Because I felt I was in the prime of my physical performance, I was initially a little panicked. Giving up my community, my routine, and my sanity for another 9 month bout of bitchiness didn’t seem like an option.
I talked to my doctor. I connected with top CrossFit trainers in other states. I did online research. I decided that this time around, I wanted to focus on not only my babies health, but also my own (both physically and mentally). CrossFit is often defined as intense, and all my sources suggested I put that term aside. I knew there would be many modifications I’d have to make to my training, but I wasn’t prepared to put my fitness on hold if I didn’t have to. I forged on. I followed guidelines (based on my doctors approval and suggestions from www.crossfitmom.com) including weight-lifting restrictions, avoiding obvious movements, and maintaining a high level of self-awareness. In the first trimester, battling the overwhelming urge to vomit was the most difficult part. I took days off when I felt the need. Runs were at a slower pace, hydration increased, and I rested when I was short on breath. I was no longer competing with myself or others, I was adapting and maintaining. In the second trimester I felt energized, so I had to force myself to tone things down a bit. I avoided any seriously heavy lifting (ex: 1 rep maxes) but did participate in the Open workouts to the best of my ability. I didn’t push to the point I would have normally, but I also knew I was fully capable of giving each workout a shot. Once the 3rd trimester hit, the belly posed a unique obstacle. Push-ups and burpees were on a 12 inch box, double-unders and running resulted in some pee in my pants, and the heat became a major factor. Here in Des Moines, Iowa, our June and July weather can boast a solid 90-100 degrees. Late-term pregnancy, and super hot sunny days don’t jive well. Having said that, I’m due in less than 2 weeks and continue to coach and participate in classes, considering all factors before completing and modifying a workout. I use common sense and wise judgement. I don’t risk the health of my baby, but I also don’t disregard my own personal health.
Sometimes, while browsing Pinterest, I stumble across a photo of a full-term woman swinging a kettlebell. I want to give her a high-give and maybe an ass slap. Then I read the comments below that particular image and it pisses me off. People claiming child abuse and chastising her choices to participate in her own well-being at a very acceptable level. What about the extremes?? A prego Facebook status claiming consumption of 12 Twinkies in one sitting will get a million “likes” because it’s “cute”. I’m sure your fetus appreciated that significant sugar rush. Or images of a pregnant woman achieving her new 300 lb. deadlift PR getting props for being such a “badass”…seriously?? The strain required to complete particular CrossFit movements and workouts is more than a tiny body should be forced to endure. I wonder where these women’s heads are at. If you can’t exhibit moderation, put the twinkies and barbell down. I would never go so far as to suggest a strict training regimen or dieting, but I would also say that pregnancy is a perfect time to control what you can when it comes to your health. There are two ways to be too selfish throughout a pregnancy: do nothing at all, or do to0 much. CrossFit or not, baby-on-board means you have MORE responsibility to take care of yourself and that life inside of you. Not less.
Doesn’t it make sense that in most cases, a healthy body will grow a healthier baby? (I fully recognize that genetics, developmental issues, or other high risk issues may pose circumstantial differences.) Each pregnancy is unique, and each body is unique. With the appropriate guidance and approval, I truly believe that continuing CrossFit throughout a pregnancy can contribute to a healthy and positive 9 months. Personally, my morning sickness was short-lived, the fatigue was minimal, and my muscles felt strong and alive and healthy. And as I near the date of delivery, I feel more confident with my abilities not only throughout labor, but also when it comes to the care of my child and her health. I took care of myself and it feels great. And I think my baby will thank me. Or maybe she’ll pop out doing muscle-ups and that’ll say enough.