Pregnancy is draining. The mere fact that you have to live with another human being inside you for 9 long months is tough.
However, there are some moms-to-be out there who go above and beyond in staying up to par with their pre-pregnancy shape.
We are going to discuss the fitness fad of CrossFit and whether it is safe or not for expecting mothers to engage in extreme exercise.
What most people don’t know is that if you have a healthy pregnancy, physical activity is not only safe but recommended.
Exercising can help:
- reduce back pain
- reduce ankle swelling
- prevent excess weight gain
- boost mood and energy
- get you in better shape for labor and delivery
However, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any intense or even gentle exercise program. The important piece of information is that if you were active before pregnancy, staying active over the next nine months will likely only benefit you.
It is the general rule of thumb that if you were doing it prior to getting pregnant, it’s great to continue. However, starting a new intense not-previously-done one is not recommended.
If you’re expecting, it’s generally recommended to bring the intensity of physical activity down a notch. You should also avoid:
- contact sports
- extensive jumping or hopping
- exercises where falling is more likely
The most important thing for you to remember is to listen to your body. Each day will be different and certain movements may begin to feel awkward or uncomfortable on Monday but amazing on Tuesday. As a result, the competitive nature of CrossFit can cause women to feel frustrated when their bodies are telling them to slow down.
However, in Crossfit, whether you’re pregnant or not, form is the most important skill you can learn. Form should never be compromised when performing a lift or during a workout. As a woman’s belly grows, it will be impossible to maintain an optimal bar path, which means there will come a time where a switch to kettlebells or dumbbells is called for. Additionally, pregnant women release a hormone called relaxin which causes ligaments to be looser and can affect balance. Therefore, sudden and high-intensity balance movements such as box jumps should be avoided after the first trimester.
It is important to remember intensity is a relative term and exercise is very beneficial to your baby. You and baby share everything, including hormones and if you release endorphins while exercising, the baby will reap the benefit as well.
Studies also show that moms who exercise during pregnancy have larger placentas, which means more oxygen exchange for the baby. One of the reasons why Crossfit is so popular among pregnant women is because of its intense workout but its easy scalability. CrossFit is a scalable workout, meaning you can easily reduce intensity. If you’ve done CrossFit or similar activities before, it’s fine for you to continue.
The key is to listen to your body.
What you’re able to do safely will change from trimester to trimester but you’ll be able to find moves or modify them to fit all stages of your pregnancy.
The Boxlife website says, “As with any exercise, as long as you’ve been doing it for at least six months prior to pregnancy, you should be fine. The functional movements we do in CrossFit are extremely beneficial for helping women get through labor.” Squatting is one of the best exercises for the pelvic floor and tends to help CrossFitting mamas have shorter pushing times.
However, it is important to be conscious of what you are doing in relation to your baby- going upside down while pregnant is not the best idea. Why risk it for a handstand push-up? It’s important to take a step back and put it all into perspective.
We all must also remember not to compare themselves to anyone else.
Just because your friend is doing muscle-ups while pregnant doesn’t mean it will feel OK for you or if your friend finds comfort in doing yoga at home, you are still entitled to your daily workout in the gym.
Listening to your body each and every day is key.