Full disclaimer: I have never been pregnant & therefore cannot say that I am a pregnant athlete. I do, however, realize that a lot of pregnant people tend to get blanket statement advice which can lead to them doing too much too soon or not understanding that the actions they are doing today can have long-term implications on their body.
What do pregnant athletes usually hear?
Pregnant & postpartum people tend to get cookie-cutter advice. “You don’t have to stop exercising but you should slow down” “be gentle with your back” “don’t strain your abs”. While all of these phrases are accurate to some point but if you are a marathon runner what does slowing down look like? Running slower? Running less? How slow? How much less? What if you like to lift? Does this mean doing the same workouts with less weight? Fewer reps? It’s easy to see why pregnant & postpartum people tend to do what they usually do & hope for the best. This has led to a large portion of our population not seeking help for conditions that could be easily managed with proper guidance.
So what should they do?
Having people on your team is key . If you are currently working with a coach or personal trainer, ask them if they have taken any courses in training pregnant people. If they haven’t it is worth finding someone who has. The decisions you make while pregnant can have long-term impacts on your postpartum health.
Pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum is forever.
Now is the time to train for: resiliency and adaptability, your postpartum recovery & athletic interest, a healthy pregnancy & baby, for enjoyment, in a way that preserves and/or manages core and pelvic health symptoms - not aggravates or creates them.
Instead of waiting for symptoms to show up, I recommend that you start implementing a strategy. This strategy includes modifying breath, tension, pressure management, positioning, and movement. Want to learn more about each part of the strategy? Check out our posts on Instagram here.
What should you pay attention to?
As your pregnancy progresses, there are going to be movements that start to be too much for your body. This may start happening earlier in your journey than you anticipate. Things to pay attention to doming/coning in your abdominals, urinary incontinence (peeing your pants), pelvic floor heaviness, or tightness.
In the 2nd trimester, it is generally advised for pregnant people to avoid Olympic lifting due to the bar path having to travel around your growing belly. Heavy lifting due to need to breath-hold/brace. Dynamic efforts ie kipping, handstand pushups, burpees. High-impact activities including plyos, jumping rope, sprinting. Depending upon the person, this may include running.
In the 3rd trimester, the same modifications above apply, and depending upon your body, there may be more movements that are too much for this part of your journey. The focus of this phase is to enjoy movement. It’s not the time to be pushing or challenging your body. It’s a time to focus on consistent effort and that effort may vary from day to day and week to week.
Are you pregnant & want to continue being active while setting yourself up for success when postpartum?
Dr. Emily is a Pregnant & Postpartum Athletism coach as well as a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician. She can help you with any pregnancy related body pain as well as help you determine how to modify your workouts.