Crossfit Pregnancy – Ashley B.

By now, most of you know that Kristian and I are expecting a baby boy in late August! Since the news has spread throughout the box, I’ve gotten a ton of questions about CrossFit and pregnancy. I’ve already learned a lot from the experience so far, so thought I’d write a little blog for those of you who have asked or might be curious.

I found out I was pregnant the day after the Bayou City Christmas party – very early on. I was only about 5 weeks pregnant. For the 5 months leading up to that day, I had been hardcore training in hopes of competing with the BCCF team at Regionals – 5 days a week, about 2 hours a day. I even competed at All Cities Open in Dallas the week before I found out. I’m sharing these facts because I’ve seen or heard of many people stopping their workouts all together in order to get pregnant. Of course I understand EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT – different doctors, different situations, and different fitness levels call for different action. I simply want to point out that in my case, high intensity cardio, heavy (HEAVY) lifting, muscle ups, GHD sit ups…did not prevent me from getting pregnant. That’s all I’ll say about that.

I kept with my training for the first 3 weeks or so after finding out – mainly because we weren’t ready to share the news, but it also because it took me some time to let go of my goal and put training on hold. By the time I reached week 8, I saw a major drop in my energy level. No nausea or morning sickness (WHEW!), but I barely had the energy or motivation to get up off the couch, much less pick up a barbell. I took a solid 3 weeks off. I felt like a blob, but that brings me to my first point: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. IT WILL TELL YOU WHAT IT NEEDS. I needed more rest than usual, and I needed to take it easy during the most crucial stage in the baby’s development.

At my second doctor’s appointment, we asked my doctor about exercise. There are SO many different opinions on the subject. Some books will tell you keep your heartrate below 140bpm, others say you should only walk for exercise 30 minutes a day, while others will say keep doing whatever you were doing before pregnancy (in my case, that was a joke). My doctor wasn’t overly concerned, but she did say to make sure I wasn’t so out of breath that I couldn’t speak during a workout. I love that rule of thumb, because depending on your fitness level before pregnancy, that “breathless” point will be different for everyone. For me, it meant that I could still get in a good WOD.

I’m almost 18 weeks now (middle of the 2nd trimester), and I’m back to working out 3-4 times a week most weeks. They say your energy goes back to normal during these months, and I definitely feel it in my workouts! That said, the way I work out has definitely changed. Here’s my advice, based solely on my experience, for what to change and do if you want to CrossFit while pregnant:

1. Take breaks when you get out of breath – remember you should be able to speak. I like to make the breaks between exercises or movements, so I can still get as many unbroken reps as possible. The clock is irrelevant now.
2. Decrease your weights, but it doesn’t have to be stupid light! My rule (for now) is no more than 75% of my max.
3. If it doesn’t feel good or normal, don’t do it. Pull-ups, T2B, sit ups, box jumps feel fine for a while. When they don’t anymore, that’s when you modify. You don’t have to modify from day 1.
4. Everyone is different. Just because you saw a pregnant chick doing/not doing something, doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Do what you want and are comfortable with.
5. Ask someone to watch your bar path on things like power clean and snatch. When you start developing bad habits to avoid your belly (like keeping the bar far away from your body), consider stopping those lifts. This is a personal choice I’m making, because I have worked hard to develop good technique and don’t want to lose it.
6. Even if you have to modify or change the WODs, try to still workout in classes or with friends! Katie encouraged me to still do the Open WODs as much as possible, and I’m so glad I am. It’s fun, and it keeps me from feeling left out.

As long as you’re smart about it, exercise is good for you and your baby. Even though I can’t do nearly what I was doing a few months ago, I feel much better on the days I work out than the ones I don’t. I read somewhere that the stimulation and movement the baby feels while you’re exercising will benefit his brain development. I guess Kristian and I will have a genius baby, because I plan to keep it up as long as I can! ☺

If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an email – ashley@bayoucitycrossfit.com

Ashley B.

Comments

  1. Carla Deavers says:

    Ashley, I love this! I have been through 5 pregnancies way before I ever did crossfit, but I wish I could have read this kind of information at the time. This is encouraging and would inspire many pregnant women, crossfitters or not! Thanks.

  2. Hey Ashley,congrats! It’s so weird reading this blog…I feel like you and I are going through the same thing right now. I’m also due late August and I’m a coach at Clear Lake Crossfit. We’ve had something lie 6-7 pregnant clients and coaches train during their pregnancies- all modifying at different points during their pregnancy depending on performance level pre-pregnancy. First, I want to thank you for writing this blog. Second, I’d like to add…drink water!! We train ourselves to go hard for so long that taking a water break is almost like a sign of weakness. As the hotter months approach, you will HAVE to do make sure you stay hydrated. That, and consider investing in a maternity support band. It helps with back support and keeps you from feeling like a whale as you’re jumping or running. Again, thanks for this awesome blog and congrats!

  3. Sharon Ng says:

    Hey Ashley – Great read. I am a trainer at CrossFit Caveman and currently 26 weeks pregnant. This is my second pregnancy in 2 years. We also have had about 10 pregnant ladies train at our gym over the past couple of years.

    Add dumbbell movements (like cleans and snatch) to keep it interesting once you can’t use the barbell. Also as much as they suck thrusters are a great weighted movement as well because you can take the bar off the rack instead of getting around your stomach.

    One thing I will say to be careful of is getting back into CrossFit too quickly after pregnancy. I know the desire to drop that baby weight and get back to normal, but you need to let your body recover. One of our client’s sister came and worked out with us for a month or so while staying with her mom. When she came to us she was 5 or 6 weeks post partum. She had not taken enough time to recover before training with us and was experiencing some pretty serious problems. Listen to your doctor, listen to your body.

    And if you haven’t already check out crossfitmom.com

  4. candice says:

    Hi Ashley,
    Firstly congrats!
    Thanks for this blog I am now seven weeks pregnant with our second. I love crossfit as it helped me loose all the baby weight from my son who is now 10 months old i was so worried that i would have to stop while i was pregnant.
    You really are such an inspiration!

  5. Hi Ashley, Thanks so much for sharing your experience! As a fellow crossfitter (C4 CrossFit in Richmond, TX), I am SO encouraged and determined to keep it up throughout my pregnancy (I’m about 6 wks). Currently, I’m just doing research and reading blogs to learn as much as I can. Keep sharing…you’re a huge inspiration!

  6. Helen Quinn says:

    Hi Ashley,

    I’m currently 14 weeks pregnant but haven’t been able to train for nearly 5 weeks due to terrible nausea I feel horrible. Hoping to be back at my Box on the next 10 days just hoping I haven’t lost my fitness. So excited to be pregnant but I’m normally so active but feel like and old woman. Hopefully the nausea will ease so i can be back crossfitting.

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