I now have 2 pregnancies under my belt and throughout both of them I continued CrossFitting. With the popularity of CrossFit increasing and becoming more mainstream in the media there has been some backlash on women who continue with this form of exercise while pregnant.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with CrossFit, it is a functional type of exercise that includes body weight movements (e.g. air squats, pushups, pull-ups, running) in addition to barbell movements (e.g. snatch, clean and jerk, overhead press, deadlift). Each gym, called a box, is individually franchised and does their own programming. Each day there is a WOD (workout of the day) and for our gym we have a strength component and then a workout. No two days of programming look alike.
When I became pregnant with Elijah I had been CrossFitting for 11 months and was still running. I scaled some of my movements and weights and cut back on my mileage. I stopped running at 30 weeks as it stopped feeling good. My pregnancy with him was really easy. I had no complications, aches or pains. I remember at the end feeling so good that I thought I might be pregnant forever! I worked out until the day I went into labor at 40 weeks 5 days. I went into labor in the middle of night at 12am and started pushing at 9am. He was born at 11:19am. It was a wonderful natural birth. I was back in the gym at 2 weeks postpartum and took things really easy and scaled the movements to allow me to recover and heal. The postpartum journey was humbling to say the least. Even though I worked out until the day I delivered I had lost a lot of strength and it took several months to feel like I was back to my pre-pregnancy self.
Fast forward 3 years to when I became pregnant with Evelyn. I had been CrossFitting for 4.5 years and since my pregnancy with Elijah I had gained a lot of strength and also went through an injury with my knees resulting in surgery on my left knee in March 2016. My knees have significant cartilage damage under the kneecaps so I’ve had to modify my squats to protect them from further damage. It was a difficult recovery and I remember thinking before I got pregnant that if I ever had another pregnancy I was nervous how all the extra weight would effect my knees.
Evelyn was a surprise as we weren’t trying to get pregnant. I remember thinking that I felt like I was fairly well recovered from my surgery. In fact I had a repeat MRI the morning that I found out I was pregnant that showed my left knee had grade 2 cartilage wear which was improved from the 3-4 before surgery.
With my background as a Nurse Practitioner, being a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, and experiencing a CrossFit pregnancy prior I had a pretty good grasp on what modifiers I needed to do this time around. As far as others, it is important to consult you’re your medical professional and not start any new form of exercise while pregnant. There was a great website I referenced (http://www.insidetheaffiliate.com/blog/2014/9/22/a-crossfit-coachs-guide-to-training-pregnant-women.html). Some of the main things I modified were that I decreased weights, stopped ab work, and took more breaks during workouts. I stayed CrossFitting 5 days a week until I gave birth. I’m good at listening to my body and know my limits. However, I am naturally a competitive person so it is always hard for me to back off. I was able to keep a lot of movements to the end like box jumps, double unders, and handstand pushups. Throughout her pregnancy I felt incredible and people joked that I must be a magical pregnancy unicorn. Again, I had no aches, pains, or swelling.
The day before I went into labor I worked out and did the anniversary WOD. Thursday’s are my usual rest days so I took that day off and went into labor that evening. See my blog post about that experience. Labor and delivery went well and I was amazed at how similar my whole pregnancy was with Evelyn compared to Elijah. It was almost identical. I went back to CrossFit at 2 weeks postpartum again. Not because I was worried about getting my prebaby body back, but more because I felt great and exercise is such an important part of my mental health. Going through these two pregnancies with ease I have to give a lot of the credit to staying active, eating healthy, and CrossFit. I joked to Lucas that it would be interesting to know what would happen had I not CrossFitted, although I will never know and wouldn’t want to take that chance. At 33 and 37 years of age at my pregnancies I am so grateful to have felt so good and to have been able to stay as active as I did.
If you are planning on becoming pregnant I think it’s extremely important to be active. It is not only good for your health, but the baby’s health as well. I had read somewhere to think about labor as a race that you train for. You wouldn’t go out and run a marathon without preparing for it and I feel the same thing goes for labor and delivery. It’s a lot of work and stress not only on you, but also the baby. So, when you read that exercising while pregnant puts stress on the baby, this might not be such a bad thing. Think about all the stress they go through as they are in the labor and delivery process. I liked to think of it as training myself and my babies for a birth marathon.