January 12, 2024
If you’re here reading this blog and you’re pregnant - congratulations! Pregnancy is a wild ride no matter how many times you’ve done it. I’d wager that if you are a part of the F.I.O community then fitness is a priority in your life and will continue to be during your pregnancy, which is amazing!
Gone are the days (for the most part), where pregnant women are told to “eat for two” or “don’t lift over X amount of weight”, the problem is the advice we’re getting now as active women isn’t much better, does “just keep doing what you’ve always done” or “just listen to your body”, ring any bells? The issue with these well meaning statements is two fold, for one, it’s ambiguous at best and two, it makes it seem as if you have to change nothing about how you’re training. I’m not just talking about what exercises you choose to do, which, any quick google search will give you an abundance of opinions and exercise modifications for training during pregnancy. I’m talking about the how; your intensity, duration, your mindset around how and why you are training. This is something that I don’t think is addressed nearly enough given the rise of women who are pursuing a high level of athleticism across their lifespan, including during pregnancy. As active women you know how important it is to have a well rounded training program and you don’t need to be convinced to workout, you love it, thrive off it, but, you may need some help adjusting how you think about your training now that you have this new life inside of you.
One of my favorite concepts from my pregnancy and postpartum athleticism certification was the concept of Athlete Brain. Now you might not identify with the word athlete, but the definition of the term athlete brain, as coined by Brianna Battles is:
“Athlete brain is the intrinsic motivation to challenge, pursue and perform. It can be on a spectrum of “type A” personality, characteristics of how one identifies, and is often driven by competitiveness, ego, fear, anxiety, success, energy, routine and capability.”
If any of that statement struck a chord with you, keep reading.
When we’re talking about adjusting our mindset during pregnancy, I like to consider a few guiding principles.
Guiding Principle #1 - What am I training for?
Guiding Principle #2 - “Can I” versus “Should I?”
Guiding Principle #3 - This isn’t forever.
So, you’ve read through the guiding principles and feel like you could use some more help to navigate your changing training needs, where do you turn?
Thankfully, we have lots of options for support! If you are an athlete who regularly attends in-person classes (think Crossfit, F45 etc.) and you want to stay in classes, (which I am definitely an advocate for staying with your people, provided you have the support to adjust training during this time), you could consider doing a 1 off consult with a certified coach (find a map of all PPA coaches here), a pelvic floor physiotherapist, or another women’s health professional (chiropractor) who is knowledgeable about the type of training you do, or is at bare minimum willing to learn. During a consultation you can typically expect to go through your training history, talk about how you’ve been feeling during your pregnancy thus far, whether you’ve been experiencing any symptoms of a pelvic floor dysfunction (stress/urge incontinence, pelvic heaviness, pelvic pain, low back pain etc.), and then from there you will hopefully do a movement assessment to see what your tendencies are when you are exercising. This is the key piece! This will allow the coach/provider to give you real time feedback on how to adjust your breath, your positioning within the movement and or maybe having a discussion with you about when you should consider removing certain movements from your programming. This can be hugely beneficial especially if you feel that you are generally quite knowledgeable about exercise and your body. This type of consultation can give you added confidence and education to help you make guided decisions that are personally tailored to you and your goals, during this time. It is also hugely beneficial to build these types of relationships during pregnancy so you have already built up trust with a professional who can help you return to sport and exercise postpartum.
Another option, especially if you are a home gym athlete and want a bit more consistent guidance, would be to consider purchasing a “done for you” program that blends a comprehensive training program with education around pregnancy and birth, including mindset considerations, prehabilitation for the core/pelvic floor and positional stretching or strengthening for an improved labor and delivery. I’ve linked a few of my favorite programs below, personally I used Brianna Battles Pregnant Athlete training program, which included 37 weeks of programming along with a ton of educational videos on adjusting breathing, mindset and included prehab with every workout. These programs are a great investment and typically don’t expire - meaning you’ll have them available to you for multiple pregnancies, and you’ll get access to the newest version when they are updated.
I hope you found some helpful takeaways from this post, and that you feel more confident navigating your current training needs. If you have any questions related to this post or any other pregnancy or postpartum training related questions please email email@example.com.