By Justine Harney
Three years ago I lost a baby to an ectopic pregnancy, it was a traumatizing experience but I feel that my husband and I are both stronger for it. After that happened, I wanted to get back in shape which lead me to Crossfit. My husband had already been at a crossfit gym (box) for a year and was in love with it, after months of trying to convince me I gave in and decided to give it a shot. For those of you who aren't familiar with crossfit, it is a high intensity strength and conditioning program that combines body weight movements, endurance, gymnastics and Olympic lifting. Workouts vary from day to day, and crossfit pushes you to train for the unknown. It completely changed my ideas on health and fitness, I fell in love with it and the sense of community it provided.
After recovering from surgery for my ectopic it took us a year to get pregnant again, by this point I was in my second year of crossfit. I was overjoyed at the news of getting pregnant and wanted to do everything I could possible for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. I knew that pregnant women could continue to exercise but I wasn't sure to what extent, I started researching and asking other moms.
At the time a trainer at our gym was about 6 months pregnant and still working out hard, I talked to her a lot and she was such an inspiration to me! The best advice she told me was to listen to my body. It's amazing how in tuned you can become to your body! It took some adjusting but before long I found a rhythm in my workouts and knew how much I could do. Crossfitmom.com was a resource I used a lot they provide modified workouts for pregnant and postpartum mamas.
I ran and jumped rope until I was 6 months pregnant, I only stopped then because of pelvic pain as I carried my son low. I continued to lift weights of between 35-70 pounds all the way to the end of my pregnancy. I also did pullups, squats, pushups and ab exercises (no sit-ups after 16wks) all the way through. I actually worked out three days before I had my son. It was hard to stick with it towards the end when I was tired but I always felt so much better after working out and had increased energy. I felt great during my pregnancy and was perfectly healthy with no complications and I feel that working out was such a huge part of that. I didn't feel huge and uncomfortable until the last week of pregnancy.
I went into labor on my own at 38wks and 4days. Contractions started on April 17 at about 7pm, they were consistent and five minutes apart but not intense. I got a burst of energy and figured in case it was the real deal I should get everything ready , so I cleaned my house.
After five hours we called the doc she said since I was planning on a natural birth I could wait until my contractions were three minutes apart for two hours. It was about midnight so we went to bed and tried to get some sleep. At about 1:30am I woke up with a really intense contraction. I filled up the tub so I could labor in there to relieve some of the intensity. We started timing my contractions again. They were intense and within less than an hour they went from every five minutes to every three. We were going to wait another 30 minutes then suddenly they were every two minutes. My husband started packing up the car by about 4am we were to headed to the hospital which was about 30 min away. We arrived at the hospital at about 4:30 and headed to testing.
The contractions were really intense and I was hoping I was far along so I could do it natural like I had planned. I felt that if I was hours out I wasn't sure I could hang in there for the long run, it was so intense. By the time a nurse finally came back to check me (seemed like hours but I was probably about 20 min), I was 9 almost 10 centimeters. They rushed to get me to a delivery room! They brought me a wheel chair but I refused - sitting down sounded like a terrible idea. So I walked across the hall to my room, slowly.
They got me all set up in the room probably about 5am. While I labored I was on my knees being held up by my wonderful husband. My husband was so supportive and focusing on him was so calming, I don't know what I would have done without him. My doctor was on call that night and was able to deliver the baby. She came in broke my water and I pushed three times and my son was born at 5:34am April 18 perfectly healthy! I had skin to skin contact immediately which was wonderful!
I consider my birth experience amazing! A part of me had really feared it, even during labor I wasn't sure I could do it, it felt like everything happened so fast! Looking back I am amazed and I feel empowered that I am capable of such an amazing act! I firmly believe my fast labor and delivery was due to all of my working out, my body was strong and could handle it. I am not big 5'2 and pre-pregnancy weighed 108, I was nervous on how my body would handle it, but I think keeping myself strong made all the difference! The support of the trainers and other athletes at my box Crossfit Hellbox also was a huge part of me sticking with it. I encourage any pregnant woman to keep working out in any form she feels comfortable, it is so important!
Pregnant women who do Crossfit have been getting a lot of grief lately saying what they're doing is unsafe. Our bodies are used to this, runners continue to run during pregnancy. So why not continue to exercise in how your body is used to? I hope all athletic mamas can be an inspiration instead of being criticized. So glad I was able to share my story!
Did you exercise during pregnancy? Share your experience in the comments below! Let's get rid of the stigma surrounding pregnant exercising moms by talking about your positive exercise experiences!