I’m so sick of seeing this same old story and the same old commentary that follows it.
Frankly, the conversation misses the mark in 99% of the comments and blogs that I see post on this topic.
The latest 9-month pregnant woman who’s deadlifting 100-200lbs, is doing burpees, hundreds of pushups, sprints and stairs workouts. There’s no need to name names or direct you to the videos.
The comments she’s gotten flip flop between terribly mean and cheerleading her on.
Hint: I’m not in either camp.
- There are the people who believe she’s harming her baby, that she’s going to put herself into pre-term labour, or “what if she hits her belly with the barbell?”
Listen. I bet her baby is thriving wonderfully. And, if she were to bump her belly with the barbell, I doubt there would be any issues, to be honest.
- Then there are the people who think it’s the best thing ever, she’s so hardcore, strong, badass, and the “OMG pregnant women aren’t fragile, leave them alone!”
Can we please stop it with the ‘pregnancy exercise badge of honour’? You don’t do pregnancy exercise better or worse than the next person because you did or didn’t lift a heavy barbell over your head.
WE ARE MISSING THE POINT.
Above all, this (and every) pregnant woman can do what she is comfortable doing with her body.
But, I can’t help but be a bit scared when I see videos with women exercising like this in late pregnancy.
My main concern is this: HER CORE AND PELVIC FLOOR.
Would I recommend you follow the same approach? Would I, knowing all that I know and seeing all that I see, workout how she does?
No. Not even a little bit.
I’m not worried for her baby. I’m not worried she’s going to go into labor during a squat session. I’m not suggesting she stops lifting weights or stop CrossFit.
I am worried for her core and pelvic floor. The stress that those exercises could potentially place on her pelvic floor and pelvic organs if she has lost some strength in the pelvic floor through pregnancy.
Call me cautious.
I am. I’ve seen a lot of women suffering in their bodies after pregnancy and I personally know now just how integrated postpartum recovery is.
I’m just not saying that exercising and lifting in a similar manner (lifting heavy weights, Olympic lifting, burpees, sprints, stairs) in late pregnancy, or anytime in pregnancy, is something we should all be striving to do.
BECAUSE OF YOUR BODY.
In my opinion, this conversation about how intense you can exercise or how heavy you can lift in pregnancy isn’t about “health and wellness” and staying fit.
Read that again.
This conversation isn’t about protecting the baby, even (obviously, that is prime importance).
This conversation actually isn’t even about CrossFit because I see a lot of other potentially dangerous pregnancy workout programs, too.
The focus of this conversation needs to be about ensuring that you are preventing any undue damage to your core and pelvic floor during pregnancy.
We prevent in pregnancy.
My best advice for pregnancy exercise? Do not let your ego creep in. Do not ignore even the subtlest of warning signs and whispers from your body.
But, this isn’t just about pregnancy. This is about protecting your core and floor for the early postpartum period, through your next pregnancy, through your next postpartum recovery, for the next decade, as you reach menopause, etc.
That’s what makes me nervous when I see the next “pregnant CrossFitter” video pop up.
I truly hope she’s been having regular appointments with a pelvic floor physical therapist throughout her pregnancy. I hope she’ll see a pelvic floor physio postpartum.
I hope she doesn’t return to super intense lifting and plyometrics soon after baby is born. I hope she knows that post-pregnancy and while breastfeeding her connective tissues might not be as supportive and strong, and so she needs to scale her workouts (perhaps a bit more?).
I hope she’s educated on diastasis recti, incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
Most of all, I hope she know what an immense feat her body has done during pregnancy and all that it will continue to do postpartum. I hope she feels proud of herself and her body, and doesn’t feel like she needs to live up to anyone’s, including her own, standards about how she exercised before or during pregnancy.
I hope she rests, takes time off, heals her body, and is able to get back to all the exercise she loves…eventually.
For an example of 2 full body pregnancy strength training workouts, that are core and pelvic floor safe, click here.