I’m Pregnant! … Crossfit During the First Trimester

Hey guys, Jess here. I wanted to share some exciting news with you all…

I’m Pregnant! My husband Chris and I will be expecting our first child in late August.

While I’m writing this, I’m only 9 weeks. No one yet knows. I plan to post this in late February, after the first trimester is safely behind me. ….And that brings me to my reason for this post. During a ladies first trimester she is most vulnerable. Physical and emotionally she may need the most support, but because up to 25% of pregnancies are miscarried within this period, she usually doesn’t spread the news until after 3 months. So how is one to know what is safe? Many pregnancy websites preach “Don’t lift anything heavier than 25lbs!” and “Rest as often as possible, do not elevate your heartrate”. (Que my panic).

Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 8.03.43 AM

One of my first google searches…… Seriously?

When I read those two bold lines on the pee stick (and after considerable laughing and jumping on my furniture) one of my first google searches was “Crossfit in the First Trimester”…. this search yielded pitiful results.  I decided that I should try to share my pregnancy and Crossfitting journey with our readers.

While I’m no doctor or expert on the subject of being a Mum, here’s what I’ve learned so far from my own experience:

1. Don’t Google

If you’re like me you like to know. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I realized that I literally know nothing about babies. I’ve never held one-ever. Never ever. I knew nothing about the changes that were happening in my body, about the possible health concerns and malformations, genetic disorders, who to contact, midwife or doctor, the birthing process (omg), exercise, diet….. I hadn’t the faintest idea about any of it. So being a respectable quasi-parent I took up the trusty and always extremely ‘accurate’ advice of Google. Worst choice ever. I was immediately flooded with information on everything possible that could go wrong during my pregnancy. Every anecdotal story of a terrible event, health issues and tragedy ever recorded in history was now shoved in my face. I was so certain I would miscarry by the time I finished reading one night that I told Chris we shouldn’t get our hopes up and that until 12 weeks I should probably lay off Crossfit and just wait to the inevitable signs that I had lost the baby. …..Fortunately I seeked further advice from real doctors and found out that my overwhelming feelings were completely normal and that I should chill the eff out…..

Do yourself a favour. Stay away from Google. Buy a couple books. Make a few new Mum friends. You’ll gain more valuable advice in the end and have real friends to comfort you if things actually do go awry.

2. You’re Pregnant, Not Disabled

Speaking of new Mummy friends, I was super fortunate to have a girl from the gym to call upon. She had just had her baby 3 months earlier and was a total rockstar at our gym throughout the whole pregnancy. She was actually in the gym WODing on her due date. What a woman. I called her up seeking advice and one thing she said to me really hit home: “You’re pregnant, not disabled”.

She encouraged me to continue with my normal life. Continue at Crossfit. She gave me some really great advice specifically on certain lifts to avoid, intensity monitoring and movements I should work on. More on those below, but her most impactful advice to me was that just because I’m growing a tiny human, doesn’t mean I have to stop being and doing what makes me me! As long as I’m not trying anything radical and new, I would be totally fine throughout the 9 months.

I think this point also extends beyond the gym. You can still do everything you normally would have done. Don’t let pregnancy be an excuse for you to veg on the couch with a bag of salty chips and chocolate. Keep active, keep fit. Keep up to date with your friends, keep the house tidy, stay alert at work. There are going to be days where you’re too tired or sick to do anything (trust me on this… my middle name is ‘sick & tired’ lately) but persevere. Tomorrow is a new day and it will be better!

3. You CAN Crossfit Safely while Pregnant

Yes! Glorious news isn’t it?! You’re going to have to scale back intensity and weight a bit, but fear not! You shall still WOD and get a killer workout. When I say scale back the intensity, I mean scale back your max effort to about 60-70%. You will find this inevitable as you’re going to be out of breath walking up a set of stairs. Your usual gas tank will be running on half empty during your workouts. My new Xfit Mummy friend advised me to read the board and pick a time from earlier classes thats about in the middle of the scores. If the fastest time of the day is 8 minutes, and the slowest was 12 minutes, do the Chipper in 10ish minutes. Same goes for an AMRAP, choose a number of rounds as your goal that will keep you constantly moving, but not redlining. This reduction in intensity has been the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around.

4. Active Mommies = Healthy Babies and Pregnancy

Okay, so Google did get one thing right. It appears that everyone in the world agrees that being active while pregnant contributes to a healthy and happy newborn. Being active while pregnant also helps with the whole birthing thing. For more information, check out this awesome article from the Crossfit Journal: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Nitz_PerformancePregnancy.pdf                    …..Welcome back if you just spent the last 10 minutes reading that article. Awesome eh?

5. Tell Your Coach Now

I told my coach when I was 6 weeks. There are multiple coaches at our gym so I chose to tell the one whom I spent the most time with. I know what you’re thinking; “But what if you miscarry?”. Well what if I didn’t tell my coach, didn’t receive his awesome advice/understanding and still miscarried? If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. Have faith! My coach was the first person to know because I really respect his guidance and doing what was best for my baby was really important to me. If he said “Stop crossfitting for the next nine months” I wouldn’t think twice about taking his advice. Lets face it, if you have a wicked coach, they know your body better than your doctor. I see my doc twice a year, I see my coach every single day. He knows my limits and can help me scale things back as necessary. Tell your coach, they need to know.

This PR was a couple weeks before I conceived. Although I won't be able to PR my weight anymore, it looks like I'll be PRing my bra size daily and eating bacon guilt-free. Double Score.

This 146lb C&J PR was a couple weeks before I conceived. Although I won’t be able to PR my weight anymore, it looks like I’ll be PRing my bra size daily and eating bacon guilt-free. #Gains . Double Score.

6. Things Will Be Different… even right away

Oh my. I had no idea that right after you pee on a stick things start happening. I’m used to it now but at first it was astonishing how fast my body changed. I almost couldn’t cope with myself! Things you’ve probably noticed: your boobs are getting bigger daily, you can’t breathe during anything cardio related, you’re tired exhausted, you’re weak, your sick, your hungry, your angry/happy/grumpy/sad/miserable/joyous/grumpy (did I put grumpy twice?), you ‘just don’t feel like it’. Yeah, sounds right doesn’t it?

Keep in mind that even when you’re 6 weeks prego, you’ll start to notice changes. For me, it was that I could not breathe during a workout. It got so bad that I would have to completely stop and take an extended break. I’ve always had an awesome gas-tank and now suddenly I was donezo. Take it easy, you need to get used to your new body that you’re sharing.

7. Scale it Back

Lifts are going to be tricky once you have a bump. I’ll write a post on alternative movements in the future, but for now we should discuss weight. Wave a fond goodbye to PRs my pregnant friends. I often longingly look at our PR board and wonder how long it will be before my name is erased and replaced by a larger number…. Alas! I’m building a baby! And that seems like the ultimate PR to me.

Scale back your weights to where you feel comfortable. From what I’ve learned so far, 60% of your 1RM is a safe working weight while prego. For squats, DLs etc my Xfit Mummy friend said that while super prego she stuck to her bodyweight. I like this idea and will probably try this as well.

Scaling it back by both intensity and weight makes your workout safe for both you and your baby. And trust me, if you’re experiencing body changes similar to mine, your 60% will start to feel like a 1RM!

8. Listen to your Body

Having a hard time breathing? Take a break. Think that KB might be just a couple kilos too heavy? Grab a lighter one. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, listen to your gut- it might just be a baby talking! Alternatively, if you feel comfortable continuing on with certain weights and movements, keep going sista! As long as you feel comfortable and can breathe you’ll be fine. Remember that you shouldn’t be red-lining, or heaving on the ground after a workout now though. That ‘hurts so good’ feeling after an intense WOD will have to wait. You have more important things to think about!

9. Keep a Positive Attitude

You are making a tiny human! You are awesome! Be kind to yourself. Try not to beat yourself up when you start to put on weight (guilty), and try not to get down if you loose a couple of inches off those guns (also guilty). It’s about more than your sport at the moment. It’s about a new life, your wellbeing and staying healthy. Keeping a positive attitude will help you during those long nights/mornings/afternoons of hugging the toilet seat, of crying for no reason, of being so sad because the sight of meat makes you want to vomit. Goodbye dearest bacon, goodbye dearest steak, I’ll see ya on the other side of the first trimester.

10. Set Realistic Goals and Reassess Your Program

You’re going to need to revise your workout/lifting program. Have you told your coach yet? Good. Now sit down and devise an appropriate schedule and goals together. Pick a couple things you want to maintain. For me, it’s pullups. I want to always be able to do 5 strict pullups. By altering your goals, and making a plan, you’ll have something to work towards. My heavy Olympic lifts will have to be put on hold, along with burpees (admittedly not upset).

I hope that these few bits of advise help you out throughout your pregnancy. Stay tuned and follow our blog via email as I’ll be posting my fitness journey throughout my pregnancy. I would love to hear from other Crossfitting Moms. Do you have any advice for me? How have you managed throughout your pregnancy to stay active and healthy?

xo Jess


5 thoughts on “I’m Pregnant! … Crossfit During the First Trimester

  1. Loved reading this!! I am now 5 weeks prego and trying to figure out what is safe to do at crossfit. I am big into OLY lifting and it will be hard for me not to try to PR and on top of that explain why I am not trying to PR every time I lift. (at least until I am 10-12 weeks and ready to tell everyone) It’s hard to go 60% during WOD’s, but you are right when you say the most important PR is my baby.
    I did tell my coach and she is amazing. I do have to admit, I am not mad about not having to do burpees for 9 months!!! lol
    I am very excited to be able to continue crossfit throughout my pregnancy. I will too be the crazy pregnant crossfit chick. You rock! Good luck on your journey into motherhood!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am debating to tell my coaches. I am here at 6 weeks but have not told any family on husband side. I too do crossfit and will find it hard to come with an excuse as to why I am not lifting heavy.


    • Hello Vilma, I would suggest telling your coaches if you feel comfortable and close enough with them or simply scaling yourself back yourself if you would like to keep it to yourself until 12w. No one should judge you for lifting lighter or going slower. (You could always just mention that you’re feeling under the weather and getting over a bug 😉 ).

      I’ve found that before 12w I tell people whom I would want their support should something not go as planned. If you would want them to know either way, than what’s the harm in descretely sharing your news? Congratulations!


  3. Thank you for this information! The internet is a scary place…Do you feel like you found a good OB who can also guide you through CF movements, what to do and what not to do.


    • Hi Andrea, thanks for reading our blog!
      I found an OB that I felt comfortable with and notified her that I would be continuing with Crossfit. She supported me staying active.
      I left my programming and scaling to my trusted coaches. They’ve known me longer and understand my abilities and were a much better resource for me in regards to fitness.

      I would suggest relying on your OB to support your growing belly and your coaches to support your fitness maintenance. 🙂 You go girl!


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