Firstly, let me start by making it clear, just so there is no confusion – this is not just another article to preach about CrossFit. Nor is it advocating that all pregnant women should be doing CrossFit. Because that is simply not the case. Sure, one of the best things about CrossFit is that it can be performed by anyone of any age or fitness level. But let’s face it – it’s not the type of exercise that will suit everyone, and it certainly isn’t for everyone during pregnancy. Every body is different and every pregnancy is different. This is simply a small insight into my personal journey of continuing regular CrossFit throughout my pregnancy… Generally we hear the golden rule when it comes to exercising during pregnancy, is that if you were doing it pre-pregnancy, you are usually able to continue to do it whilst pregnant. And it is recommended to not start any new fitness programs that weren’t regularly being performed pre-pregnancy. For me, as I had been doing CrossFit regularly for about 18 months before I fell pregnant with my second child, I felt very comfortable in the decision to continue CrossFit throughout my pregnancy (of course with the OK of my doctors also). In fact if I’m honest, in my case, there really wasn’t any second thought or decision to be made. CrossFit had become such a normal part of my life, that if anything it would have seemed strange or “unhealthy” for me to stop just because I had fallen pregnant. You would train in the lead up for any big physical event, like a marathon for example; so the way I see it – why wouldn’t you train / try to keep your body in good physical preparedness for a life event as big as pregnancy and childbirth?
Something the trainers at CrossFit Flourish regularly remind us to think about is our “Why”. What is our individual “Why” or reason for coming to CrossFit? Why are we here and what are we trying to achieve? This allows us to better focus on ourselves and own goals rather than comparing ourselves to others. For example, you might be going to push your limits and train at an elite level. Or you might be trying to make a healthy change and lose weight. Perhaps you might be using CrossFit as an all-round fitness conditioning to compliment another sport? Or you might simply be wanting to be able to move better and keep up with your kids. So when I fell pregnant, I used this to constantly remind myself that my ‘Why” had now just changed. I was no longer there to push 110%, to cut body fat, to strive for that PR or RX on the Whiteboard. I was now there simply trying to keep active and to stay healthy and strong (physically and mentally), for both my baby and I.
My plan once I found out I was pregnant, was to of course always to look after baby No.1 and to scale back or substitute movements whenever necessary – always listening to my body and my coach, and remembering my “Why”. I found that this was a good plan of attack, as my body told me different things daily! Some days certain movements might be a struggle, and then other days I would be ok. Some things I even found more difficult to do in the first trimester, then I did in my 3rd trimester! You have to just make a decision based on knowing your own strengths/weaknesses and how you are feeling on the day. (You can also find some more specific info on what movements might be best to avoid and some of the scaling options I personally used here).
I also suffered with reflux quite a bit throughout my pregnancy, but especially during the second trimester. So often movements like burpees or rowing, or things where I was up and down / bending in the middle a lot I found would provoke this. Therefore I also scaled these movements to suit as needed. Once I started to get a larger belly (which wasn’t really until the start of the 3rd trimester) I wore 2XU maternity compression tights to train in and utilised a physio support belt for “high bounce” activities (ie skipping, running, box jumps etc) to help stop any belly bounce and give me a little added support. Sure my bump definitely started to get in the way more towards the end, I would find myself puffed more easily and things were getting harder to do (due to no room left!), but it felt good to be there staying fit and healthy for both bub and I. Plus I found it actually improved my mental clarity and tiredness too. Often in the later stages of pregnancy the hardest part of the WOD was just simply putting my shoes on or picking equipment up off the ground!
I attended regular CrossFit classes right up until a few days before I gave birth. I went into labour on my due date, I had no gestational diabetes and had very minimal abdominal separation (which was completely back to normal at my 6wk postpartum check up). My pelvic floor were and are still strong, and I was able to avoid excessive weight gain. Plus I felt my mind and body were definitely stronger and better prepared for labour; which I believe also helped contribute to achieving my personal end goal of an all natural, drug free birth with minimal recovery time. I definitely feel that my decision to continue CrossFit and a healthy lifestyle throughout pregnancy played a pivotal role in these positive outcomes and was the right choice for me.
Here are some links to articles from the CrossFit Journal I found useful about CrossFit and Pregnancy, and which also support some of the advice, findings and benefits I personally experienced:
http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Nitz_PerformancePregnancy.pdf http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Pregnant_Perkins.pdf http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_2014_04_Pregnancy_Auger2.pdf