According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should aim for approximately 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week. Benefits of staying active during pregnancy include a reduction of back pain, reduced risk of gestational diabetes and cesarean delivery, and promoting healthy weight gain throughout the pregnancy.
BUT, there is one major caveat to this recommendation… Check with your specific health care practitioner if it is appropriate for you to exercise. They are the ones who will be able to diagnose any specific conditions where it may not be safe for you to continue exercising.
Fortunately for me, my pregnancy has been healthy so far, and my OB has given me the green light to continue my typical exercise routine. And for me, my regular exercise routine includes a lot of Crossfit.
Before becoming pregnant, I had been doing Crossfit for a little over 2 years. I was comfortable with the movements, and have even participated in a few competitions. Continuing Crossfit during my pregnancy was important for me to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle. While I advocate maintaining physical activity throughout pregnancy, if you are someone who has not previously done Crossfit, when you’re pregnant may not be the best time to start. Here are a few of my Do’s and Don’ts for continuing Crossfit safely during pregnancy.
Do: Listen to your body
I listed this do first, since, in my opinion, it is the most important. Our bodies are incredible for knowing when we are exercising at an appropriate intensity or when we need to back off a little. For me, this has meant really tuning in to my breath. I’ve scaled back my intensity during a WOD to avoid feeling completely breathless at any point.’ It also meant I took a break from the gym during my first trimester. I was challenged by morning sickness and fatigue and realized my body was telling me sleep, and less intense exercise, such as walking, were more appropriate at that time.
Don’t: Push through pain
Pregnancy is definitely not the time to push through the pain. Before becoming pregnant, there were definitely times during my workouts that I would push through a little bit of pain, to take myself to a higher level of fitness. When pregnant, pain is usually a sign that something isn’t as it should be. If you are experiencing any severe pain, check with your Dr immediately.
do: Know your scaling options
Some Crossfit exercises are not appropriate at any time during your pregnancy and others that are not appropriate during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. This PDF from the Crossfit Journal has some great options to help you with scaling options for different movements. Also, talk with the coaches at your gym. I know I’m certainly not the first pregnancy my gym has experienced, and my coaches have been a great asset in scaling my workouts.
Don’t: Feel the need to pr every workout
One of the things that really attracted me to Crossfit originally was the competitive nature of the workouts. As an athlete, I loved pushing myself during every one of the workouts to either lift heavier or beat my previous workout time. Pregnancy is definitely the time to put the competitive nature in check. I find that I have to remind myself this every now and then. The focus of the workouts now is maintaining my fitness level and focusing on a healthy pregnancy.
Do: Focus on form
With using lighter weights and lower intensities during the workouts, this is a great time to focus on proper form. Not only will this help prevent injury, but it will make you a better athlete when you return after your pregnancy.
Do: Know that every pregnancy is unique
Remember that your pregnancy is yours and yours alone. Everyone’s circumstances are different. This even includes moms who are experiencing their 2nd or 3rd pregnancies and find that they vary greatly from their first. Crossfit is one of the ways I’ve found to maintain my fitness throughout pregnancy, but I’ve found what’s been the most important is just getting up and moving every day. Staying active has made the pregnancy symptoms milder and the overall pregnancy more enjoyable.
I hope these Do’s and Don’ts help you with your fit pregnancy journey. Feel free to comment below on what your pregnancy workout experience has been. Or even if you are just looking for additional tips on how to stay active during pregnancy.