Let me just start by saying that everyone’s journey through conception, pregnancy and birth is unique. This is my story of how my fear of working out during conception and pregnancy gave way to a physical need to be active. I was lucky to find an encouraging community at United Barbell that supported me on my journey.
You’ve probably heard a similar story before... A couple meets, they fall in love, they want a baby and, lo and behold, what you thought would be a fun time trying to get pregnant becomes a 3-year ordeal of doctor visits, tests, fertility treatments and multiple rounds of IVF. Like many searching for answers, I took to the Internet to see if I was doing something in my daily life that was preventing me from conceiving. I have always been physically active so as I began reading through blogs, articles and forums about fitness while going through IVF. I was shocked to learn that others out there, with a similar story to mine, were encouraging women going through IVF and pregnancy to be inactive and refrain from exercise and especially Crossfit. Granted these are not people with medical degrees but they are women that finally gave birth after IVF and years of trying. Maybe they knew something I didn’t... the fear set in. Was my fitness routine preventing me from conceiving? If I go through another round of IVF will I mess everything up if I continue to exercise? If I do get pregnant, should I stop working out all together?
At my next doctor’s appointment I peppered her with all types of questions around working out, lifting weights, Crossfit, daily workout vs. none at all. You name it, I asked the question. My doctor was very direct and told me that maintaining my fitness was not only recommended for my health, but good for the baby. I would, however, need to scale my workouts, minimize the amount of weight I lifted and be able to maintain a conversation throughout my workout. My doctor told me that my body should not be sore after a workout because it needed to focus on building a human not repairing muscles. She then told me to find a trainer that would help me create new fitness goals while I was pregnant. Someone that could help me scale my normal routine. This was all helpful information however it didn’t assuage my fears that working out would somehow impact my ability to have a healthy baby. Here’s where United Barbell comes in...
I was relatively new to Crossfit so I decided that working one-on-one with a trainer through my second round of IVF and into my first month of pregnancy was the right decision for me. I signed up with Jenny and the first thing we did was talk about the changes in my body, thanks to all the shots and IVF, that we needed to account for when exercising. She talked to me about reps vs. weight, focus on form not the clock and she pointed me to www.crossfitmom.com, all of which gave me a different perspective on fitness while pregnant. I had to create new goals for myself. Workouts would no longer be about my next PR or racing the clock. My new goal was to grow a healthy human while staying active and fit. My fears were slowly fading away.
About five weeks into my pregnancy I was one of the “lucky” ones who was plagued with morning sickness. It was constant throughout the day. The only time I didn’t suffer from nausea or vomiting was the one hour I was in the box at UB. The minute I started working out my nausea would fade away. I started going to class more frequently to keep the nausea at bay. By the time I hit 16 weeks the nausea had passed and my energy returned. I started seeing patterns between how I was feeling, eating and sleeping and the days I worked out. I noticed that the baby moved more on days I worked out and that I wasn’t experiencing any back pain or heartburn issues that hit most pregnant women. This inspired me to increase the frequency I attended class. I went from two days a week to four. By the time I was 30 weeks along I could clearly see a link between working out and being able to sleep at night. All my fears around working out while pregnant were gone. Working out became a necessity for both my physical and mental well-being.
With each WOD, I learned new ways to scale workouts and still challenge myself. All of the coaches and the UB community were so encouraging and I felt as though I had my own personal cheering section supporting me through each WOD.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard reminding myself not to focus on the clock or the amount of weight on my bar as opposed to others. What helped was Jenny working with me to set achievable goals both during and after pregnancy. I worked out up until the day I gave birth and I’m so glad I did. I ended up having a beautiful, healthy baby girl and an emergency c-section. I healed quite quickly after the surgery and my doctors attribute this to my health and the fact that I maintained my fitness level throughout my pregnancy. I continued to work with Jenny after the birth of my daughter not only to ease back in, but also to generate new goals for myself given my post surgery body.
I competed in the Fight Gone Bad competition 13 weeks after giving birth. Jenny was so encouraging. She told me to scale the workout for the competition and that competing on its own was a great accomplishment. Jenny went on to show me different exercises I could do at home to help get my core back in shape. At five months post surgery/birth I was able to tackle the Barbara WOD with 200 sit-ups.
Not everything is back to where it was and that’s ok. I have achievable goals and a clear path to success with the support of Jenny, all the coaches at UB and the amazing community. When it comes time to try for baby #2 there will be no fear about working out while pregnant and you can bet I’ll be in the gym swinging a kettle bell over my baby bump. Mom strong!