1. Describe your training/exercise regime before your pregnancy:
Before getting pregnant I worked out at least 6 days a week and most often twice a day. So my day would start off with a CrossFit class early in the morning (Academy of Lions is my home base) and then either go for a run in the evening or attend one of the high intensity training Nike Training Club (NTC) classes. Then, occasionally there were days where I did all three on the same day…yes, you can call me crazy or just addicted to physical activity! I also played in a women’s indoor soccer league but that quickly came to a stop as I knew contact sports was not going to be safe during pregnancy.
2. Any concerns you had regarding training during pregnancy:
At first, all I could think was “what if my doctor says I can’t go running anymore”? Honestly, I was so worried about the possibility of having to stop training for medical reasons, but I have been very fortunate to have an uncomplicated pregnancy.
Once, my doctor gave me the ‘green light’ to continue with CrossFit and running, I then started worrying about what specific exercises could be harmful to the baby or put me at risk of injury. For example, we had such a cold, snowy and icy winter that I didn’t run outdoors very much for risk of falling, but did use an indoor track at my local community centre.
3. Why is it important to you to train during your pregnancy; what are your main goals for your training during your pregnancy:
I think my biggest worry was gaining excess weight during my pregnancy; all I could think of was gaining all the weight that took many years to shed (about 6 years ago I was 50lbs overweight) and I didn’t want to go back to that stage in my life where I was unhealthy and unhappy. I wanted to try and enjoy this pregnancy as much as possible.
Aside from the health benefits of being physically active, training helps me stay balanced, from a mental wellness perspective. This would be my way of dealing with the all the physical changes your body goes through during pregnancy and those wonderful hormones that alter your emotions on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Also, I know that this is the most important time in my life to be healthy and I’m doing it for my baby.
4. How are you training during your pregnancy, how often, how far through your pregnancy do you plan to continue:
At the moment I’m 36 weeks pregnant and still doing CrossFit classes at least 4 times a week with some modifications to exercises and of course reduced weight with all the barbell lifting. My goal was to make it 8 months and I did…but I think I can go a couple more weeks!
Early in the pregnancy, I reduced my running to 3 times a week and wasn’t sure how long I would be able to keep up with the running or if I would sign up for any races. I found running to be the most difficult to adapt to as I had to slow down, a lot! As a long distance runner, I’m very focused on improving my pace, distance and finish times, but it quickly became discouraging to lace up the runners and have to run so much slower than usual! But nevertheless, I did complete 4 races including the Nike Women’s 15k while I was 34 weeks pregnant! I have since stopped running as I noticed my form and technique as a Pose Method runner was being affected.
As for the NTC classes, it has been a few weeks since I stopped attending. Primarily because I found that I couldn’t work out twice in one day as I once used to!
5. How do you work with your trainer/coach/programmer and medical team to organize your training through your pregnancy? If you don't work with a trainer, where did you get the information to design your program?
When I first met with my doctor I was very clear about the intensity of my training and the various exercises I did. She did give me the ‘ok’ to keep active but of course to “listen to your body” and stop when necessary. She was happy to hear that I would also be consulting with a trainer at the gym who knew about my exercise regimen and could provide me with tips and necessary modifications. I was fortunate, in one way, to see my doctor and the prenatal nurse every two weeks as they were monitoring a small matter (nothing overly concerning) and they both asked about my training at each visit making sure to review list of symptoms to look out for while training (including, bleeding, leaking, shortness of breath, etc…)
I booked a few private sessions with a trainer from the gym to review some of the exercises and movements to avoid, especially during CrossFit. Along with my program she included some core and pelvic strengthening exercises that would help with delivery and post natal recovery.
In the CrossFit classes, all the coaches were aware that I was pregnant and we worked together to review the workout of the day and where I may need to make some modifications or replace exercises.
I didn’t consult with a running coach and in hind sight I probably could have benefitted from it. I will consider it post natal to ensure that I try not to run another marathon before my body has a chance to fully recover from being pregnant and delivery.
6. Describe the importance of listening to your own body - any common signs/feelings you experienced that warned you to slow down or back off?
“Listen to your body”, was by far the most important piece of advice and the most difficult for me to follow. I’m a firm believer that you won’t know your limits until you pass them, but things certainly change when you’re pregnant!
The most common sign to slow down or stop a certain exercise was at the slightest hint of abdominal pain (either on my side or just under my baby bump). I could also tell when my heart rate was getting close to being too high and my breath becoming too rapid by taking the “talk test”. So, if I was having trouble talking while doing the exercise then it was time to stop and take some deep breathes to cool down.
7. How has your training impacted your pregnancy- physically, mentally and emotionally?
Overall made my pregnancy has been fairly easy without major complications, nausea, tiredness, and other side effects that I hear many other women suffer from. I’d like to think that my level of physical activity contributed to having fewer pregnancy discomforts and being able to maintain a healthy weight.
I guess going through pregnancy is like training for a marathon; it takes a great deal of time to condition the body and mind, it’s demanding and exhausting but all worth it in the end!
8. Do you have an important message you wish to pass on to other women who are thinking about or are concerned about training through pregnancy?
Working out during pregnancy should be just a continuation of the lifestyle you had already established and always consult your health care provider! If possible, talk to other women who were physically active during their pregnancies, to hear about their routines, successes and challenges along the way.
9. Any other information you wish to include — e.g. you can describe the experience of being asked questions/given advice from other gym goers, you can talk about your influences/role models, anything else you think is important.
At the gym, there has been such a tremendous amount of support from fellow CrossFitters and NTC friends! If you surround yourself with likeminded individuals they will keep you motivated.
I regularly got asked about what modifications I had to make to my training and occasionally people asked if my doctor knew what I was doing – I tried not look offended by their comments! I think by far, I got the most stares during my runs and races and certainly shocked quite a few people, but I tried to not let it bother me. Once again, I know my body best and what my limitations are.
I would also like to add that the general literature about physical activity for pregnant women (such as hospital or government issued pamphlets) include general guidelines, but it wasn’t the most helpful when it came to the specific training and intensity that I was used to, especially for muscle conditioning.
Of course I did some online research as well when it came to CrossFit and running and found that many women and professional athletes were able to continue to participate in their sport during pregnancy. I was most impressed by Alysia Montano, USA track star who ran in the national championship while 8 months pregnant – that was absolutely remarkable.