“Sometimes, especially in the world of fitness fanatics, recovery from pregnancy becomes something of a contest. Who can get flat abs faster? Who can PR just one week post-pregnancy? Who can say they’re problem-free? Really, it’s all bullshit. Every woman has a unique experience during and after pregnancy. And every woman should be afforded the dignity and encouragement to carry on at a pace that works for her. Every CrossFit mom has her own struggles, and the gym shouldn’t be a source of stress or frustration during a period of life that should be indulgent and celebratory.” -Abi Reiland
Hey friends. The boys are 7 months old now and I realize that I haven’t posted in a while (thank you Hilary for carrying this blog!). There have been some persistent requests for a ‘Postpartum Post’ and I haven’t felt ready to post until now. So here’s my last 7 months, in a nutshell. I’ll touch on PP recovery, life with new twins, postpartum depression, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, athletic ability and my efforts to regain my fitness. If you’re a pregnant athlete, trying, or have a new hatchling at home, I hope some of my learnings will help you through the rough patches or maybe help you feel understood. So here it is, in raw honesty, from one mother to another.
The Realities of Parenthood
Excelling in a high performance sport requires surprisingly few components. Dedication, drive/willpower, time, adequate rest and recovery, and proper nutrition/caloric intake… okay and maybe a bit of talent. This formula was always simple for me throughout my life: Food + Rest + Time + Passion/Hard Work = Success and Achievement …Simple enough, right?
When I found out that my husband and I were expecting twins, I figured I would just add in ‘+ adorable twins’ somewhere in my equation and it would still be hunky dorey. We’ve all heard of supermoms- they exist, right? Reality hit hard last August. I crossfitted throughout pregnancy until 7months when I was just too large to be proficiently and comfortably mobile. I had had a great pregnancy and felt fantastic.
My sons were born at 34w3d, six weeks early, presumably due to a lack of space. Both were born very healthy with APGARS of 9 and 10, they had to stay in the NICU for 5 weeks until they were big enough to feed on their own.These weeks were challenging to say the least but my husband and I left the hospital with our boys ready to take on the world. Life was easy and thrilling. They fed every 3 hours and slept in between. I could do things. I had time. The newness of parenthood was exhilarating and I started back at the gym when they were 6 weeks old. I would bring the boys in their stroller and while they slept I would work out. I took things slow at first and really enjoyed the Bootcamp classes my gym offered. They are programed in 1 minute stations so I could push myself as hard as I wanted to depending on how I was feeling that day. I was tired, and adjusting to motherhood and sleeping in 2.5 hour intervals, but with the boys sleeping in between their feeds, I was guaranteed this 2.5 hours of rest around the clock. Being a mother was so amazing, and I cherished my new sons immensely but I was also determined not to toss out my passions and interests for the job title of Mother. Don’t get me wrong my kids definitely came first, but I was also determined to be an awesome wife to my husband and also take time to look after myself!
Then they woke up (“It’s aliiiive!”). Hello 4 months! Around month 4 the boys started to spend more time awake during their feedings. They were now awake during the day and during the night. My 2.5 hours of rest between feeds became 2 hours, then 1 hour, then 15 minutes. If one boy was awake, the other was asleep. They seemed to tag team screaming matches, and my husband and I even joked that there seemed to be a buzzer in their nursery that went off if one of our heads hit a pillow. It was constant. I became a breastfeeding zombie. All I thought about was sleep, and my immediate yearning and desperate desire for some of it, just a little bit, anything really, took over my consciousness. My need for sleep became a powerful all consuming obsession. I started to analyze every movement I took. Could I save some energy by only eating while laying down? How could I minimize my walking steps? I read countless books on twins and scheduling. How to keep them on the same schedule, when they would start syncing more, when I could expect the fabled ‘sleeping through the night’. Would or could the demands of breastfeeding actually kill me? I dropped off the map. I turned my phone off. Friends started to comment that I was a ‘hermit’. They didn’t understand. I was in survival mode. I took my earplugs out only to shower and to sleep. The few days that I felt like trying to go out with the boys I went to the grocery store. I quickly came to feel like a walking freak show. It seemed that everyone walking by me while I pushed my double stroller and pulled a cart had something nasty to say: ‘Oh double trouble!’, or ‘You’ve really got your hands full! I don’t envy you!’ or (my favorite) ‘Twins!? My condolences’. I started to hate everybody. It had taken me 2 hours to get the boys ready, loaded and into the grocery store. I felt a bit of accomplishment… I was doing something! Only to be heckled by strangers, stared at or harassed. This all sounds dramatic, but I assure you I’m serious. December and January were months I’d like to forget and I now understand why sleep deprivation is used for torture.
During this time I obviously did not go to the gym. I vividly remember my last visit around month 3.5. I had been ‘back’ for about a month and a half and I was desperately trying to do a set of thrusters during a WOD when I simply had to stop and basically collapsed on the floor. The realization that my body was not physically able to exert any more energy was crushing for my psyche. I had slept 3 hours total the night before and I felt that I had sacrificed so much becoming a mother that all I wanted was one hour away from the house, doing something for me and now it seemed impossible. I craved that endorphin rush after a great WOD, and the alertness I once felt at the gym. I needed something positive to motivate me and was truly crushed with the inconvenient truth of what was to come. My husband and I were running on all cylinders and there was no time or energy left for anything other than breastfeeding and caring for our two babies.
I think it was late December when I started to loose my milk. Looking back, I realize it was because I was eating so poorly and in such a sleep deprived state that I had completely lost my appetite. At the time I felt like it must have been some sort of cruel joke. I didn’t care about eating, I didn’t care about bathing, or changing my clothes or anything other than making it through the day and feeding my precious little boys. When my milk supply started to go, I truly hit an all time low. I was trying my very best, and now I couldn’t even feed my hungry babies. I went to see the doctor. My husband was concerned I was suffering from Postpartum depression and we needed some advice. I actually started to believe that my sleep deprivation would kill me. There were times that my husband would have to hold me up because I was too weak to stand. I constantly walked into doorways and felt like I was drifting. I dreaded when he went to work for his 24 hour shifts because it meant I was alone. Alone with two demanding boys without a second to sit down. If they did sleep I was busy resetting the house for their next wake. His parents helped out as much as possible, but I still had to feed every 3 hours. I was determined to breastfeed and really did not want to resort to formula. ‘I could do it!’, I thought. Even if it killed me, I wanted to keep trying.
The doctor explained that sometimes PPD leads to the sleep deprivation, and sometimes its the sleep deprivation that leads to PPD. I explained my feelings and symptoms and he felt that I had started down the later path. We agreed to meet weekly to discuss how I was doing, and I reluctantly agreed to try supplementing formula for one night feed. My husband and I made a more concrete plan with his parents and we all took turns for the next 4 weeks during the days to reduce the workload. My husband also started pre-cooking hearty meals that we froze so that I could just pop them in the microwave and eat when I had time. I became proficient at breastfeeding and eating. Actually, I became proficient with breastfeeding while doing anything. Walking, cleaning, laundry, peeing, brushing my teeth. The formula helped me regain a bit of my milk supply, and I was pumping in between feedings to try and stimulate more production. In the end my milk came back, but it was extremely tough. Looking back, I’m so glad I stuck with it.
Nearing the end of January, my husband and I were on a serious schedule with the boys. Every minute was analyzed and planned. With twins, you truly don’t have the luxury of ‘on demand’ feeding or sleeping. If there’s no schedule, there’s no predictability. The boys started to sync and were sleeping and eating at the same times. We had it down to a very fine art. We started to sleep more. FOUR HOURS! What a glorious thing. I remember sleeping for four hours in a row one day and feeling like a million bucks.
Fast forward to today. Mid-March and although the boys don’t sleep through the night (I’ve yet to actually meet these fabled children who do by the way), they do sleep long stretches at night. They go to bed around 8pm, wake at 2am to feed, and then 6:30am to feed and wake up for the day. They nap for one hour at 10:00am, and two hours between 1:00-3:00pm. We have an awesome schedule and we are enjoying life again. I’ve heard and read that with twins, people say that ‘the clouds part at around 6-7 months’. I think 7 months was our lucky number, and I’m so glad for it. My family is happy and healthy and I look forward to each new day.
The Inconvenient Truth
I started back seriously at the gym about a month ago. 3-4 days a week was my goal; Get out and move. It’s been a whole new experience returning as a mother. I’ve learned a lot about my body and the demands of crossfit. Hopefully some of my hard won battles can save you some toil…
It was obvious after my twins were born that my equation was now drastically altered and needed some serious revisions. Food + Rest + Time + Passion/Hard Work = Success. If I wanted to Crossfit, I’d have to increase my food intake, ensure I was resting (ha), and set aside enough time to warm up, WOD and cool down properly. All these things were basics, but seemed a feat of strength in themselves! Throw the demands of breastfeeding in the mix and I seriously had to reconsider what I was doing. Breastfeeding requires an exorbitant amount of energy. Breastfeeding twins requires an outrageous amount of energy, especially because I’m naturally a lean person. I’m talking requirements of more than 3000- 4000 calories daily while working out. I’ve had to do some research on the feasibility of building muscle mass while breastfeeding. Are these two activities just incompatible? If going to the gym was going to reduce my milk supply, I knew I wouldn’t chance it. Feeding my kids is obviously more important than my fitness goals.
New Body, Old Tricks (and it ain’t like riding a bike)
It has taken me a while to accept that I’ve returned to the gym in a different body than I left. A different body with different abilities and capabilities. I’ve had to learn some serious self compassion, patience and hardest of all, I’ve learned to toss out old PRs, and expectations and replace them for new and more realistic goals (and not secretly still yearn for my old PRs). I guess I somehow expected to walk back into the gym and take off where I left off. The thing is, pregnancy changes your body- a lot. Everyone’s body changes differently and I’m no biologist by any means, so all I can tell you for sure is how it changed mine. I’m not quite sure where to start because it literally feels like I’m in a completely different shell, but I suppose I could start with my skeleton. Everything stretched wider, splayed and stayed wider after birth. My hips are two inches wider to be exact (totally killing my once fab summer wardrobe btw), and my ribs are almost three inches wider. I’ve read that this is because the ligaments that hold everything together, especially the pelvis stretch and relax to prepare for childbirth due to the hormone relaxin. During the later months in pregnancy, my abdominal tendons stretched and separated, this is called Diastasis Recti and is very common. If I do a crunch, I can stick two fingers in between my abdominal muscles- yeah, it’s weird. Basically it feels as though the ligaments and muscles in my abdominal wall that used to hold in my guts don’t do their job anymore. My guts feel ‘loose’ if that makes any sense. With my coaches guidance, I’ve been working on strengthening my core and regaining much of the stability that I lost… although I can tell you I still have a ways to go to rocking a six pack… I’ve got a two-pack at the moment. If you’re interested, there’s a great article on abdominal health postpartum here: http://www.befitmom.com/postnatal.php . In addition to my muscular and skeletal changes, I’ve also started to sprout grey hair (…I’m 26), I’ve noticed wrinkles starting to form (gah!), and I just generally feel ‘older’. It’s hard to describe but I truly feel that pregnancy ages you. You have to give a bit of yourself up to receive the most beautiful gift of all! (All wrinkles in the world are totally worth it for my boys 🙂 ).
So what do these changes mean? Well, they mean that my ‘old tricks’ don’t come as easy as they used to. I have to work harder to achieve goals. My body doesn’t tone as quickly, recovery is much slower and that building muscle is more challenging than before. It means that I’m back to basics. I have an extremely weak core, and even weaker noodle legs. Luckily carrying around two growing boys has helped my wrist, grip and forearm strength bounce back which is awesome. I figure at this rate, I’ll basically look like Popeye in a year if nothing else changes. Whatever I’ll take it.
Oh right, boobs. I have those now. Although I’m now proficient at C2B pullups (hey, an extra couple of inches does wonders), all that milk production is really making it difficult for me to make serious gains. Yeah, we are back to that old conundrum of the incompatibility of gaining muscle mass while breastfeeding. Turns out you can build muscle, it’s just very difficult to do and you have to eat A LOT. My twins feed every three hours, and so do I. I am constantly eating. I wake up at 5am to eat, and then go back to sleep for an hour before the boys wake up. I eat dinner with my husband, fill my plate with more food than he does, and STILL COOK AND EAT A FULL MEAT LASAGNA TO MYSELF afterwards. I drink (get this) 12+ litres of chocolate milk a week. Not. Even. Joking. Costco is a magical place for me. So much meat and milk. Even with all this intake, it’s still difficult for me to build mass. I weigh about 6 lbs more than I did before I got pregnant, but I realize that my body needs this bodyfat store for nursing. I will add that I’m fairly certain that if I got more sleep, I wouldn’t have to eat as much. My husband and I have a tendency to replace missed sleep with food. Tired? Go drink a litre of chocolate milk. That’ll keep ya goin’ for at least another two hours.
My lifts are slowly recovering and I’m taking lifting very slowly. I’m not chasing any numbers, I’m just working on regaining my overall strength and stability. My main focus is bodyweight movements. My goals include: getting my strict pullups back, a 4:45 Baseline WOD (I’m at about 6:00 right now… damn push ups), and a muscle up by July 1. I’m currently competing in the Open for fun and have a competition lined up for this summer. 🙂 Going back to basics has been a blessing as I’ve been able to work on my technique and concentrate on form. Learned skills like HSPU are coming back now, but my strength and overall cardio/conditioning still needs a bit of work!
A Change in Perspective
The biggest change postpartum by far has been mentally and emotionally. The competitive aspect of Crossfit has taken a back seat to my desire to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. The sport has shifted from my passion, to a rung in the ladder of my wellbeing. My children and husband take the front seat in my life now, but Crossfit is still an investment in myself- for my continued health. I want to stay healthy and fit for my children and my husband. Plus being active feels pretty great. I’ve learned not to compare myself to others at the gym. They don’t necessarily have the same commitments that I do and can afford to maybe spend a bit more time at the gym and take on more demanding goals. My priorities have changed and so have my motivations. I’ve been really lucky to find Crossfit, and become a mother to two little dudes. I hope to continue to enjoy my time at the gym and reap the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. xo Jess
Special Thanks: I wanted to give a special shout out to my amazing husband (who doesn’t even read this blog I’m pretty sure). You are the most incredible person I know.
Also special thanks to my friends at the gym, Alchemy Crossfit and the coaches there that have helped me through some of the most challenging months of my life. Sport is my therapy and you guys are my therapists. Thanks to Duncan, Broder, Craig and Janet for always making me feel empowered, motivated and making Crossfit seem possible again. Without you I would still have a one-pack. 😉
I am constantly blown away by the incredible people in my life that I’ve met through Crossfit. The community at our gym is made up of extremely talented, unique and successful people who are exceedingly supportive of one another. It’s a common sight to see everyone in the gym stop what they are working on to cheer on a new comer or someone struggling through the last 15 reps of a WOD. It’s this community, and sense of unity that makes me feel so included and supported while perusing my goals at the gym. I am so thankful for all the friendships I’ve made since joining Alchemy Crossfit.
This past weekend, Hilary threw me the most adorable baby shower and many of our wonderful Crossfitting friends attended. The day reinforced for me how fortunate I am to have such solid people in my life and friendships that now transcend the gym atmosphere. The funny thing about Crossfit is that it unites those with the will to work hard, even though we all come from different occupations, are different ages, and come from different backgrounds. In one small space we have accountants, pilots, doctors, firefighters, lawyers, teachers, stay at home moms and students all working towards common challenging goals. It’s incredible how Crossfit attracts a certain personality; one that values perseverance, honesty and integrity.
Okay, okay enough about how much I love my Crossfit friends… let me tell you about the fantastic baby shower Hilary threw for the boys! Two words: Tea. Party.
Hilary likes purple, oh, and pink, and generally anything that’s frilly or could be described as ‘adorable’ (which is why she is so fond of my little men!) ;). So throwing a tea party/bridal shower is totally her jam and let me tell you- she did such a fantastic job! The food was incredible (especially the date squares), the games were fun (really, shower games, fun!), the tea was fantastic as were the 28 assorted teacups available for filling :). My two little guys were passed around like hot potatoes while I was able to enjoy the afternoon chatting with friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you Hilary for the wonderful day and memories. Your hard work and creativity were so appreciated. And thank you to all my wonderful friends who came to support Chris, Dawson, Corbin and myself. We are so grateful for you all.
“So… was labour better or worse than Open WOD 14.5?…” This was one of Hilary’s first questions when she came to visit us in the NICU. She’s hilarious, what can I say?
I know we have some blog followers out there who are pregnant themselves, so let me start off by telling you how awesome becoming a Mom is. Apart from meeting and marrying my incredible husband, having two little babies has been the best thing to ever happen to me. Becoming a Mom puts things into perspective. Things that bothered me before, don’t. Petty bullsh*t that I put up with before, I brush off. Silly things that I thought were important before, seem silly. Having my twins has helped me simplify my life and has provided clarity moving forward. My husband and I have never been happier. …Plus I have two adorable boys who even when they cry and projectile poop onto me, make me smile and laugh. If you’re an expecting first-time Momma, you may feel anxious or overwhelmed with the impending unknown. But take heart! When your bundle of joy arrives, you’ll know what to do. Things won’t be as terrible as those strangers in the grocery store warn. Try and keep a positive attitude, keep things in perspective, and remember how blessed you are to have such an incredible little person!
Now, onto Crossfit and the aftermath. Postpartum, what’s it like? Let me start with the question that everyone wants to know but no one asks for fear of sounding vain: Did pregnancy ruin your body? While it’s true that you’re body will never be the same, it’s also true that after you become a Mom, you actually won’t care as much. I crossfit because it makes me feel good both physically and emotionally not because it gives me some sort of body image. (Although I wouldn’t mind if I looked like Annie Thorisdottir, big fan). Okay, Okay I can hear you say ‘Yeah, yeah but seriously what do you look like now?’. Everyone is different but I wouldn’t worry yourself with the concern. You crossfit, which means you’re tough and devoted, and generally healthier than the average bear. Four weeks after giving birth my tummy is back down again. Sure right after I had them I still looked prego for about a week, but that’s because my womb was still gigantic! The amazing thing is that as you breastfeed, your body continues to have contractions that shrink your uterus back down into your pelvis. Mom, just you wait until birth. You thought your body was capable of some pretty amazing things in Crossfit? Wait until you find out how incredible your body really is during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. It’s actually astounding. Going through labour has empowered me. I can do anything. …Okay but 14.5 is another story. 😐
‘You thought your body was capable of some pretty amazing things in Crossfit? Wait until you find out how incredible your body really is during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. It’s actually astounding.’
And what about my fears of a kangaroo style tummy pouch? Well they’ve been quashed, or maybe mitigated by the fact that I now have gigantic boobies? haha 😛 I attribute my quick postpartum twin tummy recovery to my devoted application of BioOil three times a day starting in my second trimester as well as remaining as active as possible and eating well. By eating well I mean correct portion sizes and wise food choices. Don’t fall into the seemingly socially acceptable mindless self-indulgence trend while pregnant. This is the most important time in your life to be or become healthy. Make pregnancy your reason, not your excuse.
And how soon afterwards will you be able to hit the gym and crush some WODs? Depends. Postpartum Recovery is called Recovery for a reason. 6 weeks is a safe recovery period for most women. But I’ve also been told that depending on the mode of delivery, you should be able to start being more active as soon as 3-4 weeks post delivery. I was fortunate to have a natural birth and was out pushing my stroller up hills and around the neighborhood as soon as 2.5 weeks afterwards. I’ve found that the biggest limiting factor is energy. On top of the standard ‘up every 3 hours to feed and change’, creating breastmilk is apparently hard work! I cannot believe how much I have to eat and drink to keep up with my body’s demands; way more than while I was prego! I make over 2.5 L of milk a day (!!!). With this energy output, I feel exhausted even after a 45 minute brisk walk around the neighborhood. Getting back into actual WODs will take some time for me and my new-found lung capacity. I plan on walking as much as I can and then going back 3 days a week until my cardio is back up to snuff. I won’t lift until I’m feeling strong and fully recovered. My goal is to be lifting lightly by mid-November.
My new normal is all about my boys. My life is consumed by burps, farts, leaking boobs, soaked outfits, cuddles, kisses and naps. I try and maintain ‘me time’ at least for one hour a day. Yesterday Hil and I went for pedicures and lunch. The other day we took the boys to the Peach festival. Keeping active and not becoming a shut in is important to me and my personal health. Sometimes I’m tired and would rather lay in bed, but I make an effort to go out and always end up glad I did. 🙂
Stay tuned for posts when I head back to the gym. I feel pretty weak and my arms may look like noodles, but I plan on making an epic comeback.
Oh, and the answer to Hil’s question regarding labour vs. 14.5? It’s probably a toss up between the two. …But maybe more like doing 14.5 on repeat for about 5 hours. Hey, maybe we could make that into some sort of marathon ‘Labour WOD’ for the Sick Kids charity. Sounds like a challenge to me!
If you’re looking for more of my previous ‘Crossfit while Prego’ posts including scaling options, healthy eating and general encouragement, you can find a few here, here, and here. Happy lifting and happy mothering! xo Jess
Hey it’s Jess. Remember me? Sorry for being MIA for the past month or so. We’ve just undergone a colossal move/renovation in our new home. Busy would be an understatement. I just wanted to post a quick update 🙂 and thank Hilary for keeping up with fantastic posts during my absence.
I’m now several weeks into my (drum roll please) Third Trimester! It’s all swollen ankles, mid-day naps, awkward waddling and excessive perspiration from here on in until my boys arrive. (Sounds like the old-me the day after heavy squats… okay maybe not the swollen ankles bit). So here I am, getting large and out of shape… or perhaps becoming a completely new shape altogether. Simple tasks are sometimes exhausting and I’m always out of breath due to my limited lung capacity. I’ve gained 30 lbs so far, and I have to tell you that I can really feel it!
The gym is difficult for me, and my membership is now on hold until after the boys arrive, mostly because my personal life has become so hectic trying to finish tasks before I become a mother that the gym takes a back seat. Luckily, carrying around the equivalent of a 30lb medicine ball under my shirt all day helps to keep a certain level of fitness. I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to keep very active throughout my pregnancy. Although, I think my new neighbors think I’m completely out to lunch as I’m getting quite large now and continue to cut the lawn in my sports bra and shorts (uh, hello, it’s 30 degrees out here!), cut and paint trim for our home, the other day I even cut down a branch from our tree with a chain saw…. I can almost hear the lady next door tutting me behind her curtain. Anyways, my point is that if you’re pregnant and used to physical activity, do not feel bad about continuing to live your life! I often receive stares of disapproval or gawks from passers by but I am confident in my abilities and slow down if I feel the need. If you’re like me and in your last trimester and feeling a bit guilty about your lack of gym time, remember that you’re living Rx+ already. As long as you’re active at home, and keep moving, you should bounce back after pregnancy no problemo! I really look forward to getting back to the gym and setting new goals once the boys are here. Until then, I’m enjoying my last weeks of pregnancy and getting ready to become a mom.
Jess here! I had promised a post on scaled movements for Crossfit Mommies in my earlier posts on Crossfit and Pregnancy here and here, oh and here. I think breaking it down by trimester may be the best way so here we go:
First Trimester (0-12 weeks)
During the First Trimester you’re getting used to your new body and the potentially dramatic shift in your ability. Chances are your cardio has rapidly declined…. having a hard time breathing? Yeah. That’s you. You may feel exhausted and potentially be suffering from some nausea, but hopefully not. Try your best to stay active inside and outside the gym during the first 12 weeks. Personally I was never sick, but my fatigue and what I can only describe as ‘listlessness’ sometimes kept me out of the gym. Don’t beat yourself up about your lack of activity or the changes in your body. You’re going to get used to the way things feel and by 12 weeks you’ll be back to your old self, ready to WOD. Here are a few suggestions for scaling during the first trimester that I found useful. As long as you feel comfortable, you should be able to continue with Crossfit throughout your entire pregnancy. Scaling back on intensity and weight is key. Listen to your body (and baby). You’ll know when to slow down.
- Handstand work (until 8 weeks) scale with S2OH
- T2B: keep going for as long as you feel comfortable! Scale with K2E. I kipped my Pullups and T2B well into my second trimester. Ensure you are stretching properly before and after all activity.
- Olympic Lifts: keep going for as long as you feel comfortable and controlled! Scale weights accordingly. Focus on technique, not weight. I scaled to about 60% of previous 1RM’s and worked on longer sets, ie 3×8.
- PowerLifts: Scale weights accordingly (60% 1RM working weights). Squats are awesome for us ladies! You may find front squat easier than back as you progress.
- Pullups: No alteration necessary first trimester. Note: If you are using bands, be careful not to get caught up with your foot in the band. Use a box of appropriate height so you can ‘dismount’ easily 😉
- Muscle-Ups: Bar Muscle-Ups are a no go, but rings are fine up to 8-9 weeks.
- Pushups will be your best friend for the next nine months 🙂 Work on technique!
- Skipping: Oh yeah baby, now is the time to perfect those DUs! Especially before you, ahem, start to leak tiny pees during any unexpected sneeze or jump…
Second Trimester (13-24 Weeks)
Alright ladies, this is where we blossom. I’m currently in my 20th week. (We find out the genders of our twins this week! Yahoo!). Chances are you’re feeling better. You’re energy has returned along with your desire to keep a bit of definition in your arms and that Crossfit butt you’ve worked to hard to maintain 😉
Last week I had to stop Olympic Lifting. I still felt very comfortable with the movements, but my bump is now most definitely ‘in the way’. I figure it’s for the best, but it was a sad day… see ya on the other side Snatch!
This trimester is all about maintaining your fitness. Create a plan and stick to it. I’ve reduced my membership from Unlimited to 3 days a week. I plan to WOD three days and exercise outside with my husband and dogs the other days (especially now that Spring has finally Sprung!). Three days will give me plenty of time for recovery (and to motivate myself if I’m feeling a bit meh).
Instead of scaling options, I thought I would let you know which movements I’ve been working on throughout my second trimester.
- Kettle Bells (AKA your new best friend). I’ve been rocking the KB WODs lately. Here are a few different KB movements I’ve been really focusing on:
- American KB Swings
- KB Snatch
- KB Strict Press/Push Press
- 1 leg KB DL (Tone that tush and work on your balance!)
- KB Step Ups
- Goblet Squats
- Farmers Carry
- KB Sumo DL
- Skipping and DUs – this is getting a bit more difficult, still, I try.
- Rowing – I’ve been rowing to China and back. Focus on your technique to engage all your muscles. Talk about a low impact, full body workout!
- Pushups- These are starting to feel weird to me. I may need to discontinue these soon, but the added bonus of reaching full depth when the tummy touches really does make me smile.
- Squats, squats, squats.
- Light, Higher-Rep Sets of Deadlifts
- I’m avoiding Bench and any other movements that require me to lay on my back.
- Olympic Lifts
- OH Squats
- Pullups – I’m still able to kip my pullups. Actually I did Fran last week with Rx Standards. My added weight is making my pullups/ T2B a bit difficult now though. Kipping is becoming awkward so I’m easing off work on the bars.
- T2B are scaled to strict Knees to Elbow
- With the warmer weather here, I’m avoiding tire flips, atlas stones and any of those other fun favourites.
I’ll keep you guys posted with scaling options for the Third Trimester once I get there. If anyone has any advice, questions or comments, please reach out and comment below! We love to hear from you. 🙂
Well, this was quite the shock.
We are expecting TWINS! When I was first shown the news, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two babies, not one? Was the ultrasound tech sure!? Maybe there was an optical illusion happening here. They don’t run in our families, so surely this must be a mistake?! Nope, it was official, we were having not just a baby, but a family.
Okay, Okay. So we’ve already addressed that for most athletes, Crossfit while prego with one baby is safe here, but is it safe while carrying two babies to Crossfit?! Life just got a little more complicated. With this whole ‘twin’ status thing I was immediately a ‘high risk’ pregnancy. What this meant, I had no idea. Looking for answers I went to see my GP.
My doctor felt very confident that at this point in my pregnancy as long as I felt comfortable during my exercise, and wasn’t trying anything new, that I should definitely continue with Crossfit. He mentioned that later on in my pregnancy, exercise will become more difficult as my bump grows. He said that as I progress upwards through the months, my intensity and ability will diminish. Makes sense. At the moment I’m 13 weeks and still enjoying almost every movement or technique I would have 14 weeks ago- just at reduced intensity and weight. (My next post will be on scaling options for pregos so stay tuned!)
Whether you’re pregnant, thinking of trying, or a coach looking for some guidance regarding programming for a client, I highly recommend you to take a look at a great journal article I found online: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/the-pregnant-athlete This article is very straightforward and gives clear guidance on what is safe and what to avoid. In it Druxman says:
It’s true that pregnancy can detract from an athlete’s ability to attain peak performance levels in elite competition. But that doesn’t mean your pregnant athlete clients need to lower their activity to negligible levels. As long as they listen to their bodies, it should be safe for them to exercise at prepregnancy training levels throughout their pregnancies.
Since we started sharing the ‘twin’ news with friends and family, we immediately started getting advice and cautionary tales regarding lifting and exercising (Sound familiar Moms?) Most of my family’s first response was “Well, you’re going to have to stop that fitness craze you’re a part of now!”….not likely. During my first trimester I look some time off due to a back injury. Since returning to the gym, I’ve felt so much better physically, emotionally and mentally. After a workout I feel more awake, clear, motivated and actually sleep much better at night (see ya later insomnia!). Don’t fret when the coach potatoes tell you to join their club. Pregnancy isn’t the perfect excuse to start eating Cheetos and watch 2 seasons of Friends in a row on the couch every weekend…. rather it’s the ultimate motivator to eat healthy, be active and treat your body like the human-making temple it is! If you’re an athlete who’s feeling ill during the first trimester and becoming frustrated, my advice would be to start small. Go for a walk with your partner, do some air squats or pushups at home. Get on an exercise bike at low intensity just to get moving around a bit. Once you’re through your first trimester the clouds will lift and you’ll get right back in the swing of things.
Listen to your body, you’ll know when to slow down or go a bit lighter.
All the best,
Expecting? Let me know what you’re doing to stay healthy in the comments below.
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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).
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.
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?