Preparing for Birth
Written by Isabelle Ramirez
Consider birth an athletic event.
It’s like a marathon, requiring mental and physical endurance. You wouldn’t go run a marathon without training would you? Hopefully not.
I approached my training for birth like I approached my training in CrossFit. I am 100% convinced that ‘training’ and not just staying active helped me have an almost symptom free pregnancy, birth and recovery.
Let’s talk about the difference between the terms “training” and “staying active”.
Training would be an intentional, consistent and thought out plan with an end goal in mind.
Staying active is invaluable. It’s taking the stairs when there is an elevator available or taking your kids for a walk on the weekend instead of sitting in front of the TV. We all benefit from both.
I prefer a training plan to help me train AND stay active. I found BirthFit during my first pregnancy when I was looking for resources for the pregnant athlete. I followed their program during pregnancy and when I decided to begin to workout again.
It helped prepare me for the biggest and most challenging workout I will ever do. Even bigger than Murph. (Murph – for reference, is a very difficult workout designed and performed by Navy Seal Mike Murphy)
Below are few take-aways from my training journey
- Give yourself some grace. If you were a stellar athlete before, good for you! You may be able to continue with some movements, or you may not be able to keep up with your past self. Eventually most movements and weights will need to be scaled and modified to fit your new body or any symptoms you may have. Sometimes you will feel great, workout on those days. Some days you will feel like you can’t even manage to drive to the gym, that’s ok too. It will all even itself out in the end. Stressing out about staying in peak shape won’t do anyone any good. Workout when you feel great, don’t feel bad when you can’t.
- You CAN squat below parallel (BUT, only if it feels good) The squat is a primal, functional, transferable skill. Some women birth their babies in the squatting position. Keep in mind though – Birth or labor should not be the first time in 9 months that a woman is in the deep squat position.
- You CAN still lift. I had a bunch of people tell me not to lift weights or carry my own groceries. If there are no medical conditions preventing you from lifting and you were lifting before you got pregnant, then continue. We’re training for birth, not shying away from it.
- Pregnancy is not an excuse to go wild on some cravings. Use this opportunity to fuel your body with what it needs to create your greatest accomplishment. Talk to your healthcare provider about foods to reduce or add to your diet and a multivitamin that works for you. If you’re trending down a path with less than ideal choices, remember point one from above and move on. Food doesn’t make you a bad person. Start fresh with your next meal.
- It’s alright to modify. This goes for movements, whole workouts and schedules in general. Step back and realize that the ‘Rx’ doesn’t matter (RX for reference is doing the workout as written, as designed, as prescribed – or as RX’d). The Rx is the Rx only because your head coach deemed it so for your gym population. This one goes back to intention. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype of a big group class and remember how you once performed. Due to hormones in your body, you may not react to a very heavy weight the same way when you weren’t pregnant. This is not safe. Modify movements with abdominal flexion as your baby grows to avoid core dysfunction and replace them with a movement that offers more stability. Your baby and belly will thank you.
- Stay off of Instagram. Easier said than done in this brave new world of social media. Social media can be amazing and offer connections to things we would have never found years ago. It can also create expectations that are not set in reality. I’ve scrolled through instagram and found beautiful pregnant momma’s working out and showing off their tiny little bellies. Good for them! It was not good for me though when I started comparing myself and my body to what they were doing or at least looked like they were doing. Comparison is ugly. Do your best to get out of that loop when you notice you’re heading down that path. One woman may be able to run a 5k at 7th months pregnant, another one may need to stop running during their first trimester. Every woman and each pregnancy is unique. So are you.
All of these things helped me feel better prepared for the birth of my daughter and later on my son. Each pregnancy and postpartum recovery has been different and challenging in its own way. Don’t let birth -and the toughness it requires, go unprepared for.
Women were made for this. You can do it.
There are multiple resources available online for the pregnant and postpartum athlete. Do some research yourself and ask your coach to look into safe modifications and consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions concerning training.
Isabelle Ramirez is a CF-L1, USAW-L1 and BirthFit coach at CrossFit Iron Legion in Ocala, Florida. She has 2 little ones and loves heavy squat cleans.