No Excuses CrossFit has seen it’s fair share of women train throughout their pregnancies. Since January of 2014, we have had an unbroken string of pregnancies — 10 to be exact! (Meaning, there hasn’t been a time since then that someone wasn’t pregnant!) While many people are alarmed when they see a mama with a baby belly running or doing overhead squats, it is in fact, quite normal around No Excuses.
The research concerning exercising throughout your pregnancy points to many improved outcomes for both mom and baby. The normal benefits of exercise only continue as the woman continues training. In fact, pregnant women who exercise become a type of superhero as their body is at max efficiency, clicking on all cylinders to grow and sustain life! (These women can hold onto a 5-10% increase in VO2 up to an entire year postpartum!)
“I trained at No Excuses CrossFit through both of my pregnancies,” said Leslie Brigman. “Working out really helped me feel so much better during pregnancy. During my first trimester I would feel groggy and tired. But after working out, I would have so much energy and feel much better.”
Pregnant women who exercise have increased efficiency of their circulatory system, and are better able to handle the physiological stress of labor and delivery. Those women who also participate in weight training reap the benefit of improved strength and muscle mass which help accommodate a changing musculoskeletal system as baby grows. These women experience less weight gain (and so do their babies!) than a pregnant woman who does not train. CrossFit is typically a great blend of cardiovascular exercise mixed with resistance training.
Women who train through pregnancy have a lower risk of cesarian birth and the length of active labor has shown to be shorter in these women’s deliveries as well. Moms who train through their pregnancy report less aches and pains, an improved sense of well-being, body image and self-esteem.
“Training throughout my pregnancy was a mental and physical challenge at times but it also reminded me daily that I am capable and healthy. This reminder translated not only into labor, but postpartum! I did not want pregnancy to be an excuse for losing my confidence and strength,” Stacey Odom said. “Although pregnancy can take a major toll on your body, training throughout proved to me that I can come back stronger and better if I treated my body right and believed in slow and steady consistency.”
While the benefits of training through your pregnancy are seemingly endless, there are some simple steps to take to make sure you are on the right track with your prenatal training:
- Train FOR birth Your intention for training and movement changes when you are pregnant. When you are a pregnant athlete you have a goal for your training — birth! The workouts you do and the movements you (and the coaches) select should prepare you for the birth of your baby — a seriously athletic event!!
- Listen to your body If you need to take more breaks in the workout, go for it! If something feels “off,” find a substitution for that movement. Some women feel great running or jumping rope all the way into their third trimester, while some women opt out of those movements earlier. Trust your intuition and learn to connect with baby during your workouts. Remember, you are training FOR birth.
- Avoid movements like sit ups and toes-to-bar As baby grows, your abdominal muscles begin to separate to accommodate this little person inside of you! If we place large “crunching” loads on this area of our body, we can exacerbate this separation creating core dysfunction and instability; not to mention, increasing your healing time in the postpartum. (This includes, v-ups, hanging knee raises, GHD sit ups, L-sits, hollow holds, etc.) “The coaches did a great job of modifying movements for me when needed,” Leslie said. “Both of my labors were fairly quick and easy (as easy as a labor can be 🙂 ) and I contribute this to my physical condition from CrossFit.”
- Once your bar path changes, ditch the barbell Your primal brain is smart — you won’t hit your belly with the bar. Inevitably, you get a big loopy bar path that is a hard habit to break once you return to training after your baby is born. Use your pregnancy to train with objects that allow for a great workout, facilitate good movement patterns and help you change things up (like kettlebells, dumbbells, or medicine balls).
- Reach out to BIRTHFIT Atlanta For more information on how to navigate training through your pregnancy, preparing for labor and birth, and how to recover well and return to functional movements postpartum, reach out to Coach Laura or Coach Abi — the Atlanta resource for all things BIRTHFIT! This movement is changing the game for fitness (and so much more!) for the pregnant athlete. Best of all, they are in-house at No Excuses!
Exercising through Your Pregnancy by Dr. James Clapp, and Catherine Cram.