This is a guest post written by Coach Gabi. It is part one of a three part series which will highlight her journey of being a pregnant athlete inside of our box. It is extremely honest, and very enlightening. Enjoy!
Those were my first words when I realized I was pregnant back in October. I was excited and nervous all at the same time, and then I had the inevitable thought, “What does this mean for me at the gym?”
I've been playing sports for as long as I can remember. I'm competitive and driven, and in my mind, every workout at Summit is a competition (yes, I secretly compete against some of you in my head – let's just say I have a pretty good record 😁). I love the satisfaction that comes with pushing myself through a tough workout, beating a previous time, or hitting a PR on a lift. But I knew right away that I was going to have to do something different during pregnancy.
I had so many questions. Initially, my doctor said what I'm sure many active women hear, "You can keep doing what you're doing, but I wouldn't add anything new.” It’s not that I wanted to be told to stop working out, but that seemed inefficient to me because CrossFit workouts can get pretty intense and my athletic mindset tells me to push it to the max all the time, every time. So, I began looking around, and thankfully, I found Brianna Battles. Battles is the creator of the movement and courses for coaches and athletes known as Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism (P&PA). Taking her course and using her resources to find other P&PA coaches locally and on Instagram gave me confidence that I could navigate fitness during my pregnancy. I needed to see that community of women going through it successfully because there were a good number of times I had (well-meaning) family and friends tell me to be careful or question if I should be squatting or deadlifting - as if moms don’t do those things with their 25-pound kids on their hip.
Pregnancy doesn’t look the same for every woman, so trying to stay fit throughout isn’t the same for us all either. But here’s what my 41 weeks (at the time of this writing) looked like.
I was tired. And hungry. A couple of times, I got caught napping in my car before a workout, and it was even more frequent to catch me snacking during class.
I didn’t change too much during this time regarding my workouts. But I did grow in awareness. I learned that my pelvic floor health was going to be super important, not just during my delivery, but after this pregnancy was over. After educating myself and following the P&PA community, I began to ask myself, “why?”. I had to start to shift my mindset and consider risk vs. reward. Just because I could do something didn't mean that I needed or had to do it. Dubs are a great example. I can do these, and I think I do them pretty well. But especially towards the end of the 1st trimester, was it really necessary for me to do them if I showed symptoms (leaking, pressure, etc.)?
No, it wasn't.
So instead I did singles for as long as I could without showing any symptoms. (FYI – no female athlete should have to accept leaking when they do dubs, box jumps, etc. Check your posture, breathing, whether you’re clenching your abs or glutes.)
Hello energy! I felt good. Gone was my nausea and heartburn that seemed to have sucked the life out of me before.
But now my bump was beginning to show. The biggest challenge was turning down the voice that is my athlete's brain and getting over the desire to Rx every workout and push it to the limit.
Because my bump was growing, I couldn’t snatch with the rest of the class. Because of coning (separation of the linea alba – that vertical line you see in people with more defined abs than mine), I couldn’t hang from the bar and therefore work on my pull-up skill work. Because my ligaments were stretching, lunges caused me so much pain that I could barely walk after the workout.
I don't say these things to scare you. I say these things to let you know that it is so important to be aware of and understand movement considerations. So, I had to really begin to modify movements. Instead of snatching with a barbell, I snatched with a dumbbell (and worked on my dumbbell overhead squats). I did lots and lots of ring rows, making them as challenging as possible. I started listening to the voice I had been trained to ignore that told me I didn’t have to push through the pain. I began to see this as an opportunity to work on things I hadn’t focused on before. I did different types of carries to work my core and prepare for carrying a baby and a bag (functional fitness anybody?).
It’s the final countdown. It’s so easy to think that all that needs to be modified are the movements. But at this point I had gained 30 pounds, my low back and hips were achy, and Baby B liked to move while I was working out.
It always comes back to the risk vs. reward argument. Modifying movements wasn’t enough, especially this far along. I no longer felt the need to workout 5 days a week, or to workout for a full hour. I changed the intensity and pace of my workouts because, at this point, it was more about staying active and intentionality. (Editor's Note: Gabi started taking our ZipFit class, which is a 45 minute burner class which doesn't include some standard CrossFit movements such as barbell Olympic lifting.)
People were surprised I worked out as much as I did, for as long as I did. But being pregnant didn’t mean I had to stop being who I am. Others said I inspired them. I’m glad, but I’m not the exception. I’m just another athlete excited to be a mom. At the end of the day as Brianna Battles says, “Pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum is forever.” Very soon, my family will be bigger, but the journey isn’t over. I have a lot more to learn and share about life as a postpartum athlete. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series.