Crossfit · family

CrossFit, pregnancy, and working out

bellyThe internet went wild this week over photos of a CrossFitting mother to be lifting weights.

Shock, horror, but what about the babies! That’s a bad thing to do while pregnant.

Yes, but what about the obese pregnant women who sit around all day eating chocolates and doing nothing? Surely that’s worse.

Judgments about other people’s bodies and their lifestyle choices were flying fast and furious from both sides.

If you live under a rock and missed the whole thing either count yourself lucky or have a look here: Pregnant CrossFit Mom Posts Weightlifting Pics to Facebook, Gets Totally Hated On and Pregnant weightlifter training just two weeks before due date provokes controversy.

My reaction to the pics? They made me smile. I thought she looked strong and terrific. In a longer, more thoughtful post, I’d have lots to say but here I just want to share a few thoughts.

I’m working out with a pregnant woman at CrossFit these days. I’m getting to know her better because she’s lifting less weight and so we’re closer to each other at the gym.  Relevant point: You can still be lifting a lot of weight and have that be a lot less than you usually lift. You just don’t know.

It’s also worth noting about media frenzy CrossFit mum that it’s her third child. Probably by now she’s got a pretty good idea how pregnancy feels to her and what she can and can’t do. Probably she’s the best expert on her own body.

I did the most exercise with my third pregnancy too. Yes, by the end of the thing I’d moved to water aerobics for my cardio but for the first six months I kept riding my bike. I asked my doctor about bike riding and she said to stick with it until balance became an issue. As it turned out my belly getting in the way was the bigger issue. But I recall the very judgmental looks I got from people for riding my bike and that hurt.

The judgment should just end. Now.

Oh, and I got none of that from health care professionals. The doctors and nurses all said nice things to me about staying active. After all, I felt good during my pregnancies. I had none of the many complaints that are associated with pregnancy.

But not all pregnancies are fine for physical activity. Sometimes things get in the way of our very best plans.

Alice MacLachlan blogged here about finding herself, a very active, fit person, not able to exercise much in pregnancy. That was incredibly stressful. She wrote, “All the advice I’d found so liberating, in theory (Be active! Keep running!) now felt like just another norm governing women’s bodies, telling me I couldn’t measure up.”

Individual circumstances vary and you don’t know what’s going on with someone else’s body. There’s a fun flow chart circulating about the ethics and etiquette of advice giving that’s relevant. I can’t find it but if you’ve seen it please let me know where to find it. “Should I give someone advice about what they’re about to eat, or what exercise they’re about to do or not do?” “Has that person asked for advice or are you that person’s parent?” “If yes, yes. If no, then no.”

Advice on exercise in pregnancy changes often. Not too many generations ago women were told not to lift anything and to take it easy. My generation got different advice. We were told not to start a new program of exercise but that anything you already did you could keep doing. Now, the Exercise and Pregnancy Lab at my university says you can even start a program of exercise while pregnant. Further they even say that we don’t know how much is too much. At about 3 minutes in the researcher says pregnancy isn’t a time to train for athletic competition and that that’s because they aren’t sure at what point in pregnancy how much exercise is too much.

I think it’s up to you. Find out what facts there are to find out, do your research, do what feels right for you, and everybody else, keep quiet. Please. You’re annoying me.

8 thoughts on “CrossFit, pregnancy, and working out

  1. Hi there– I missed the crossfit mom kerfuffle, but was not so surprised at the ignorance and prejudices of so many over what pregnant women’s bodies are capable of, entitled to, etc. I haven’t read this book, but it is all over National Public Radio– Expecting Better, by Emily Oster. She is an economist, and looking at actual randomized controlled studies used to calculate risk of many activities for pregnant women (like light drinking), she finds the results at odds with standard OB recommendations– they err on the more conservative side of lots of lifestyle decisions, even when the research doesn’t support it.
    It’s too bad I can’t upload pics here in the comments, but a friend of mine who is a mtbike racer, runner, and weightlifter posted a pic of her at 32 weeks pregant, doing squats (I think) of 145 lbs, 12 reps (which I think is a lot? certainly seems impressive). She got lots of “you go girl” comments, which is a good thing.

    -catherine w

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  2. I rode my bike, jogged, and did pretty rigorous vinyasa yoga right up until the day I went into labour. (And was lucky to have the labour, and the recovery from it, go really very well.) I did get a lot of looks, but on most days I just tried to convince myself that folks were merely ogling the spectacle of a very pregnant body, not negatively judging what that body happened to be doing.

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  3. you are awesome. LOVED this post I have been following and researching on this topic myself as a crossfitter, health care professional and hopeful future mum. Love your posts thanks so much for sharing.

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