Always consult with your doctor before beginning or continuing a workout program. The information below should never replace advice from a medical professional.
Growing a human being isn’t for the faint of heart. Athletes often struggle with how much or how often they can work out while pregnant. Is it okay for pregnancy and CrossFit to coexist?
Exercise During Pregnancy: Good for You and Your Baby
Not only is exercise safe for most people during pregnancy, but it’s also beneficial for both you and your baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), exercise is essential during all stages of pregnancy. The benefits include:
- Back pain relief
- Less constipation
- Maintaining a healthy weight, lowering your risk of pregnancy-related complications
- Decrease in risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean section
- Pelvic floor muscle maintenance
- Strengthens and maintains heart and lungs
- Makes losing weight after delivery a little easier
And those are just the physical benefits! As we’ve mentioned before, exercise isn’t just good for your body; it’s also good for your mind. Growing and delivering a baby is no easy feat. Staying strong mentally and emotionally is just as crucial to a healthy pregnancy as staying in shape physically. Exercise helps release “feel-good” chemicals and reduces stress, all of which positively impact you and your baby.
Pregnancy and CrossFit: Can I Continue WODs?
Like all exercise programs, CrossFit is generally safe for women with healthy pregnancies. You should always consult with your doctor before beginning or continuing CrossFit. If you have any complications or risk factors, you might need to severely limit or discontinue WODs for the time being.
Women who have no health concerns or risk factors can usually continue CrossFit but will have to modify workouts as the pregnancy progresses. The ACOG recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week for pregnant women, ideally split up over five days. The ACOG says if you were actively involved in an exercise program before your pregnancy and are free from complications or risk factors, you can likely continue many of the same activities during your pregnancy.
What to Keep in Mind While Doing CrossFit
CrossFit isn’t inherently dangerous, especially if you work with an experienced trainer and know how to complete each movement safely. However, just like all physical activities, CrossFit does pose some risks. During pregnancy, you should pay attention to how your body changes and modify your workouts accordingly.
Here’s what happens during your pregnancy:
- Your ligaments will relax as your pregnancy progresses, causing less support around your joints. This makes your joints more susceptible to injury. You should avoid high-impact or sudden movements, especially the farther along you are in your pregnancy.
- Your center of balance shifts. Obviously, your growing belly will impact your center of gravity. In addition, the muscles of your back and hips are looser, making you less stable. Be very cautious with activities that include balance.
- Breathing becomes a little more difficult. Your body now requires more oxygen to function at the same level it did before. There is also less room inside your body to take deep, cleansing breaths. You might feel winded more quickly, especially later in your pregnancy.
You can reduce your chance of injury by stretching before and after your CrossFit workouts.
CrossFit During Each Trimester
No one athlete is the same, and no one pregnancy is the same. Listen to your body and know your limits. If you are unsure you can safely complete a WOD, that’s a good indicator that you need to modify the workout or stop altogether.
It’s entirely possible – and beneficial – to continue CrossFit during your pregnancy. However, the further along you are, the more modifications you will likely have to make.
If you are experiencing nausea and/or vomiting, pay attention to your fluid intake. Build in plenty of rest to your WODs. You might want to lessen your weight load, but talk to your doctor for specifics. You can continue many of the same activities you did before pregnancy, including running, jumping, and other CrossFit movements.
As your body changes, you will have to accommodate your growing belly, hips, and breasts. You might need to modify or stop some weightlifting movements, especially those that involve a barbell. Belly-to-floor exercises (like burpees) should be limited.
During your third trimester, it’s all about maintenance. You will likely make the most changes to your CrossFit workout during this time. You should eliminate all overhead movements or movements that could cause a fall. Include more rest and recovery days. Exercise more for enjoyment than for gains or personal records – those will come when you get back to the gym post-partum!
The WodBottom Line: Take Care of Yourself
Here’s the WodBottom line: Exercise, including CrossFit, is vital for your mental, emotional, and physical health. As a new mom, you’re entering into a new and sometimes stressful phase of life. It’s crucial that you learn to take care of yourself, both before and after your baby is born. That Mom Guilt is real, but working out can help you overcome the challenges of parenthood.