One of the first things I Googled madly after finding out I’m pregnant was exercise during pregnancy. (There have been many other things since then… Bloat during pregnancy: normal. Raw vegetable aversion during pregnancy: normal. Insomnia during pregnancy: normal.) What I learned is that there is a multitude of conflicting information on exercise. The traditional advice seems to be not to do anything high impact, not to let your heart rate go above 140, and not to lift more than 10 pounds. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the ladies who PR in marathons and compete in Rx’d CrossFit competitions until their water breaks. I’m striving for something somewhere in the middle. (Balance, again?!)
My doctor said it’s perfectly safe to do whatever I was doing pre-pregnancy. She recommended I not let my heart rate go above 150, and not get overheated (baby can’t sweat to cool down). But when I asked her about CrossFit, she said that as long as I’m not straining, lifting weights is not a problem.
Soooo…. I purchased a heart rate monitor (the Polar FT4 from Heart Rate Monitors USA) and have been using it faithfully. Whenever my heart rate gets up to 150, I stopt what I’m doing and walk, or side step, or rest in child’s pose, and let it come down to 130 or so before starting up again. (This was REALLY HARD during the Filthy 50 workout on Wednesday night at CrossFit. Apparently, my body concentrates on pumping oxygen to my uterus, not on getting me through a tough WOD. I could barely squeeze in 12 reps of an exercise before my heartrate had skyrocketed. I was modifying like crazy, just trying to keep moving and stay in the “safe” zone. I’m relieved that my fellow CrossFitters know the reason now–I’m sure they all thought I’d gotten lazy over the last month or so! Even so, it’s time to let go of the ego and remember that these next seven months will be about maintaining fitness, and preparing for the biggest physical event of my life!)
I also found a great resource called CrossFit Mom. It’s a blog dedicated to women who still CrossFit throughout pregnancy. One of our CrossFit coaches recommended it to me, and said that many of her expecting clients have used their suggested modifications under the agreement of their doctors. So far, their first trimester suggestions are simply not to push for any new weight PRs, and to be able to carry on a conversation while performing the WODs. As my pregnancy progresses, this site will be a great resource for more modifications and advice.
In the past few months, I’d gotten out of the habit of doing Yoga regularly. However, I know this will be a great option for the duration of my pregnancy, so I’ve started attending my favorite Thursday night class again, and I’ve broken out my Shiva Rea DVDs a few times. However, I was a little uncertain of how much twisting and stretching was safe for my newly-forming fetus. Luckily, I found this resource from a Yoga studio in California that lays it all out. For the first trimester, they suggest avoiding deep twists, deep forward bends, and any poses that put a lot of pressure on the abdomen.
Instead of getting too hung up on the do’s and don’ts, I’ve been trying to listen to my body. When something doesn’t feel right, or makes me nervous, I simply don’t do it! For example, I’m substituting step-ups for box jumps, and doing football burpees during WODs. I’m substituting hip stretches or child’s pose for twists during Yoga, and I’m avoiding bow pose or any posture that puts all my body weight on my tummy. I’ve only run a few times so far (due mostly to the cold, icy, snowy weather), but when I do I haven’t been pushing any faster than a 10-minute mile.
I’m sure that as my belly gets bigger, I’ll be making more and more modifications. However, I look forward to having an active pregnancy–for the sake of my health and the health of Future. (Oh, by the way, that’s what we’re calling Baby Hearn in utero.)
If you’ve been pregnant, what kinds of modifications did you make during that time?