I have been fit my whole life, yet the single greatest physical challenge and accomplishment will always be that I grew a tiny human being and delivered her safely into this world. In Feb 2016 she arrived. Since, it’s been another incredible journey to watch my body transform back into its original design.
I find the most important point in talking about pregnancy and fitness is this – everyone’s experience is different. Do not compare one’s self with others. Some pregnancies are challenged with complications where simply the best thing mom can do is rest. In those cases, doctor knows best.
I was very fortunate. As I tell people, she was good to me – through pregnancy, labor and as a newborn, which of course only helped tremendously.
My Pregnancy Journey With CrossFit
I started Crossfit a few months before finding out I was pregnant and continued at CrossFit Winter Park, three to four times a week, until I was about 37-weeks pregnant. Of course, throughout the various stages of pregnancy, I modified exercises, but I still did it. In an effort to be informed, I turned to the on-line world for guidance. I was surprised. I found incredible examples of athletes that were also pregnant, but at the same time I also saw unfortunate judgment and negativity towards those prego who continued to train in whatever sport they excelled. Honestly, the only opinions that mattered to me were those of my obstetrician, spouse, self and trainers.
I’m often asked about how I remained so fit during pregnancy? I worked hard – but I also recognize I have good genetics and a tall, long frame. I also did not experience complications and I’ve had a life-long focus on fitness. These factors played a huge role. I gained 28 pounds during pregnancy right between the goal of 25-30 the doctor asked for. It surprises some when I tell them that I did not weigh myself during pregnancy. The numbers were hard for me. As someone who had been the same solid weight since college, seeing the scale climb was honestly unsettling for some reason. So, I asked the nurses to keep weigh-ins to themselves. A few weeks after she was born I finally found out my grand total.
Fitness Advice for Pregnant Women or New Moms
My single biggest recommendation to any friend who is or is ready to be pregnant is simple: take care of yourself – body, mind and soul. Don’t wait to start this process when you are pregnant. Growing a human being is the single most physical challenge of your life. Why not physically prepare as best you can? You would train for a marathon, a tri, heck even a 5k –and I promise, this will be harder. It doesn’t mean you have to be a superstar or CrossFitter, but do something.
I returned to fitness a few weeks after my little one arrived – to the degree I could. I started with walking. With the help of CrossFit Winter Park’s Trainer, Carlos Ruiz, I took to stair-climbs and other nonimpact exercises. I tried to run about four weeks out. I also tried to ride my horse – and stopped. Jumping rope took months to return. While some activities came back easier than others as the 6-week restriction passed, other activities took longer, even months. But again, do what you can, not what you can’t. I was a bit surprised at the way my body felt during certain movements post-baby. I was accustomed to feeling solid and after delivery my mid-section felt anything but. Yet that too quickly went away. I soon returned to pre-baby weight, but joints and hips settled back around 7-months. She’s now been here for 9 months and the hardest part to staying fit has become time.
Thirteen Tips for Fitness During Pregnancy/After Baby:
- Do not get medical or training advice from Google – talk to your OB and professional trainer about physical limitations, as well as freedoms. Take that information and find your physical and mental comfort level.
- Tell your trainer as soon as you know you are pregnant. If it’s top secret, just ask them to keep it private.
- Don’t ever feel bad that your body is growing. So many people in the world are sitting on the couch; you are working out for two. It’s impressive.
- Pay attention to your body. It’ll do weird things. Early on, I was out of breath all the time – even when just walking or talking.
- Vitamins matter. In lieu of grocery store multi-vitamins, I enjoyed a cocktail of eight Standard Process vitamins a day. I had energy and they could be taken on an empty stomach without getting nauseous.
- Even if you are tired, (and that first trimester is exhausting), try to get a workout in. Do something. Anything. It’ll bring your energy up.
- Learn how to modify exercises, monitor your heart rate. My OB gave me a maximum heart rate. A monitor to helped me stay within that range.
- If it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it. At some point I traded running for rowing. I replaced jumping rope and box jumps for air-squats. Rope climbs and anything inverted or aerial – I didn’t do. But it wasn’t about what I couldn’t do, it was what I was doing – lots of planks and squats to a 90 degree, box step-ups, push presses, kettle bell swings, and Russian twists all worked for me. Ball slams were good, until I gently grazed the bump (sorry bump).
- After three months, I avoided exercises and stretches that involved laying on my back. OBs tell you about an important blood flow line and that when on your back the weight of the uterus could compromise blow flow to the baby (seems important).
- Chiropractic adjustments and prenatal massage with a professional was THE best thing I could have done. Dr. Sabrina Atkins kept me feeling good while my body was adjusting to carrying the extra weight.
- When people “kindly” offer exaggerated or scary labor stories – shut them down. Whether it is through humor or to the point, shut them down. Pregnancy and labor are worrisome enough, don’t spend months anxious about an experience you may not even have. If the unexpected happens, know that you and your OB will manage it.
- Mountain Body Spa makes a product called Bust n Bellies to combat stretch marks. I loved this product so much I put it everywhere – bust, belly, legs, elbows!
- Finally, for goodness sake, eat a damn Snickers. One day, when one didn’t satisfy me – I got another, from the vending machine. And it was so good!
Enjoy pregnancy. As an athlete, I found it incredible to watch my body transform to be able to do something so amazing. People were wonderfully kind and supportive to me during this time. Don’t forget to take care of your mind, body and soul! I truly credit my CrossFit Winter Park family, along with my OB for keeping bump and I healthy and safe through and after those nine months.