When I found out I was expecting for the first time, I was devastated. I know most people are overjoyed, but I had just started my first “real” job, I was unmarried, and I was overwhelmed at the idea of growing a small human inside me. There were so many things I was uncertain about at the time, but I slowly began to put together how to approach this whole pregnancy thing.
I always wanted to have kids. Although the pregnancy was unplanned my husband and I grew excited about our looming role as parents. I read books on pregnancy, nutrition, and childbirth. I read some more on early development and sleep for newborns and watched endless videos on what to expect during pregnancy and birth.
One of the things I found very little research on was exercises that were safe during pregnancy. I found books at the library with permissive exercises at very low intensity. I read blogs about walking and swimming being optimal for pregnant women. But I wanted permission to RUN, and I wanted to lift heavy weights. I scoured the internet looking for women who lifted while pregnant, and I found nothing! There had to be other women out there, elite athletes maybe, who exercised at a high intensity while pregnant!? The closest thing I found was an article about a runner who was competing in marathons while nine-months pregnant. After I never found what I was looking for, I went ahead with my doctor’s permission with a similar training regiment to what I had before.
I talked with my midwife during my first several appointments about what I could do (and could not do) as part of an exercise routine. My doctor’s continued to tell me that I could continue to train at the same (or slightly lesser) intensity that I had before I was pregnant. She told me to trust my body, (I was never really good at knowing when to stop). I went as far as to show my doctors videos of women doing the snatch and clean and jerk. I asked, “Are you sure I can do THIS?” My midwife said, “YES!” She told me that the baby is in a sack of water and the bar touching my body on the lift is not going to hurt the baby. She went on to say that if something happened like, I fell on my back and the bar fell directly on my belly, than I could do serious harm, but as a trained lifter that is highly unlikely. There is a better chance of falling down the stairs or slipping on a patch of ice in the winter. Naturally as pregnancy progressed, and my belly grew, my technique changed to accommodate my growing figure, but my confidence and my fitness did not suffer.
With the growth of Crossfit, there is more information now about women who have lifted safely through pregnancy. I was also inspired by Alysia Montano, who competed at the National Track and Field Championships while 8 months pregnant. She proceeded to win the National race nine months postpartum.
I am not advocating for all women to lift in the same way that I did while pregnant, but I want to stress the importance of childbirth as an athletic event. If you prepare your body for the event, your body, and your baby, will thank you.
The amazing young woman pictured above is days away from delivering her first baby. She is so strong and beautiful! She trained at Garage Strength for the past several years, and she continued to train throughout her pregnancy. She is healthy and powerful, and she is pregnant. Missy, we are proud of you!
Written by Caitlin Browne