Written by Mikilah Speer
If I had a dime for every time that somebody looked at me with concern while I was pregnant and asked, “Now, surely you have stopped doing CrossFit for now, haven’t you?” I would sure be able to buy a lot of baby products! By their reasoning, how could I even consider endangering my unborn child by selfishly engaging in exercise? Isn’t pregnancy the perfect excuse to relax at home and indulge in cravings while we watch our feet swell for nine months? These are the faulty images and misguided misconceptions that CrossFit mom’s everywhere are working hard to shatter.
After the repeated questioning took wearing toll, I did what every other hormonal, and somewhat irrational, mother-to-be would have done – I took to social media to express my frustrations. Despite the hormones that perhaps charged the following post, my belief in the sentiments I shared to my friends, family and community are still strongly the same.
March 29, 2015 (3 months pregnant) via Instagram –
“As expected, since I began posting photos and videos of my pregnant CrossFit journey, I have received a lot of backlash and concerns from people in my life who care. And I totally get it BUT…I’d like to take this opportunity to explain the incredible capacities of the female body – particularly a pregnant one. I have been CrossFit-ing for over 4 years now. In that time I have never taken more than a week off. I am an addict and I admit it! In addition, I am a certificated L1 Crossfit trainer and I have been training and competing at very high levels of the ‘sport’ for some time now. When I got pregnant, I was in arguably the best shape of my life. I was training HARD, for multiple hours a day.
My doctor stressed to me that he wanted me to continue my workout routine and keep doing EVERYTHING I was doing before I got pregnant, for as long as possibly comfortable. He explained that your body is trained to do whatever it has been doing and it’s IMPORTANT that you keep doing it. As you could expect, I thought to myself “OK, clearly this guy has NO idea what my idea of ‘fitness’ is.” I explained my lifestyle, and still, he stuck to his original recommendation. So, I went home and started to research, which only further secured the idea that pregnant women should not begin a new workout routine after becoming pregnant. However, they SHOULD continue doing what their body is accustomed to doing.
Although many of you are appalled by my ‘rigorous’ and ‘dangerous’ activity; I can assure you that everything I am doing is MUCH less that what I was doing before I was pregnant. And when it finally becomes uncomfortable, I’ll stop doing it. In fact, I have already modified quite a bit to fit my comfort zone. My coaches have trained MANY pregnant women through healthy pregnancies and their intention for me is no different.
Finally, I beg of you, be more concerned for the expecting mother who visits the fast food drive through 3 times daily, rather than the one who is continuing to comfortably manage a healthy and familiar exercise routine throughout her pregnancy.”
Through my own arduous experiences as a “fitness mom,” I came to realize the struggles that many women like myself go through during their pregnancies in trying to stay healthy and confident. I continued to train in CrossFit throughout my entire pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy 8lbs, 6oz baby boy. My doctors were notably impressed with my strength and endurance throughout my labor and I even gained a reputation among the other staff for my “rock star” performance. As it turns out, the event of my childbirth was the greatest event of my life in many ways including my athletics! My continued training throughout pregnancy had clearly prepared me for this momentous accomplishment.
Then came another challenge. Shortly after I had my son, I began to feel very discouraged about my postpartum body. Why wasn’t it “bouncing back” the way that I was told it would? As I worked to make my postpartum comeback, one day I took my son Liam for a jog in his stroller. As I came upon a huge hill, he began to cry tremendously. In order to comfort him without missing the opportunity for challenge, I ended up carrying my newborn son in one arm as I simultaneously pushed his stroller up the hill with the other. Then, it happened – my epiphany. I realized in that moment that postpartum moms need fitness and they need to be able to bring their babies with them. Postpartum mothers need other moms to interact and socialize with and share their “mom stuff” as they encourage one another. Thus, MommyFit was born.
Much to the dismay of the general public, functional fitness (including the form of CrossFit) is incredibly valuable during the pregnant and postpartum stages. Fellow Northstate CrossFit-er and local M.D. OB/GYN Dr. Sam Van Kirk weighed in on this subject saying that, “Staying fit and eating healthy during pregnancy is a great gift that you can give yourself and your baby. Paying attention to weight gain decreases the risk of developing pregnancy associated diabetes and decreases the risk of having a C-section. The only concern about higher intensity workouts are recent studies demonstrating that you should not sustain maximum heart rate for more than 20 minutes.”
Van Kirk also added, “High impact movements get riskier as the pregnancy progresses. Moves like box jumps, burpees, and hitting your belly with a bar aren’t a good idea after the first trimester. Rope climbs during pregnancy are a no-no due to the fall rate. Other than those sustained heart rate and impact risks, enjoy the benefits of what we do at the box [during pregnancy].”
Just because a woman becomes pregnant doesn’t mean she has to live in a sheltered bubble. The identity of ‘fitness’ never has to have a shelf life. Instead, it can take on a new identity throughout pregnancy. No longer seen as an oxymoron, women can now have the honor and privilege of becoming fit and being mothers: the “Crossfit Mom”.