Disclaimer: I’m writing a personal blog about my own education and experiences of exercising during pregnancy. In no way am I trying to tell anyone what to do during their own pregnancy or claiming to be an expert on fitness during pregnancy. While I am a personal trainer and fitness instructor, any exercise done during pregnancy should be under the supervision of your OBGYN/Midwife. No new exercise programs should be started during your pregnancy. In addition, modifications should be performed (and were DEFINITELY performed in my case) as your pregnancy progresses to ensure the safety of both you and baby. The goal is to share my passion for health and wellness through allowing you glimpses of my personal fitness journey.
Before pregnancy: As I’ve posted in a previous blog, I’m part of the cult of CrossFit. That being said, once I found out I was pregnant I wasn’t prepared to give up everything I’d worked so hard to achieve in the past year. Luckily, my OBGYN knew that I loved to work out and let me continue doing so (I modified when I got later in my pregnancy). If anything, she encouraged me to be active and do what kept me most sane! My coaches at CrossFit also were familiar with my level of fitness (and insanity) and kept a close eye on me my entire pregnancy. When they heard about my easy labor and delivery they took personal credit for the success as if they’d delivered that baby themselves. I also continued to teach fitness classes and taught my last spin class at 38 weeks (only reason I stopped was because we moved 2 weeks before Ellie was born).
During pregnancy: I started modifying exercise moves about half way through my pregnancy. I really didn’t decrease my weightlifting at all, having thoroughly researched why squats were better than Kegel exercises for strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Running was difficult about 5 months in, so I swapped that out for the rowing machine or Aero-Dyne. Around 8 1/2 months, pull-ups became impossible, so I modified with ring rows. Sprints became power-walks. Headstand push-ups became seated press. Cleans, snatches and anything I couldn’t do from a rack position became step-ups. I think some of my coaches especially got a big kick out of making me do weighted step-ups several times a week.
Me: “So, can’t do that move. What’s my modification?”
Me: “But, the move you’re modifying isn’t even remotely close to step-ups.”
Spencer/Josh: “Doesn’t matter. Do it.”
I didn’t watch the numbers on the scale obsessively. I knew I didn’t need or want to go over a certain number, but I really made it a goal to eat as clean as possible and focus on being as strong as I could be for me and Ellie. It was really pleasantly surprising to see numbers stay a consistently low gain, that still resulted in a 8 1/2 lb baby and super healthy mama. My blood pressure was always low 100s/60s, heart rate mid 60s-70s and glucose tolerance test was also a breeze.
The point being: you can maintain a level of moderately intense physical activity being pregnant and still carry a healthy, term baby. I am not super woman. I tend to be whiney and dramatic. But I love the community and accountability that comes with being part of such a special group like CrossFit, so I was determined to keep going to be the best pregnant version of myself I could be.
Delivery: (read my whole blog about it here.) I labored naturally until 7 cm, when they broke my water. After that, from epidural to baby went by verrrry quickly. My OB was putting her gloves on and yelling, “DON’T PUSH” as Ellie came into the world in less than 1 push. No tearing, no pooping on myself, and I could still move my legs with the epidural. It was an incredibly easy delivery. All those squats paid off!
After pregnancy: With my OB’s permission, I went back to CrossFit 10 days post-partum. I modified SIGNIFICANTLY for the first 6-8 weeks. I eased myself back into things, especially knowing that my joints were still loose (thanks, Relaxin) and my body still healing. My coaches, once again, have supported me unconditionally as I’ve slowly began to rebuild my endurance and strength. But, no surprise here, it’s been relatively painless (other than running, which sucks no matter how in shape I am). I’m lifting heavier weights than ever, I can do some skills I could NOT do pre-pregnancy and lost the baby weight. I’m still soft in areas I’d rather not be soft in, but I know I’m a steady work in progress and I’m ever so thankful for a strong body that carries and sustains life.
Being pregnant is not an excuse to be sedentary. It’s a chance for you to get creative with workouts and find what works best for you. For some it’s walking and water aerobics. That’s GREAT! I’ve taught fitness water classes for pregnant women. It feels INCREDIBLE to be weightless for an hour when you’re 7+months pregnant. For me, it was CrossFit. I love how it made me feel strong and powerful during a period of my life that is normally not a confidence-boosting one. I also learned to appreciate my body no matter how it looks and hopefully will be able to teach my precious daughter that strong is beautiful and numbers on a scale don’t matter.