Editor’s Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before deciding on an exercise program.
For weeks after I peed my “positive” urine on The Stick, I was convinced my regular exercise regime would probably cause my fertilized egg to slip down and out of me — a pretty scientific assumption, right?
When my temporary lapse in sweat sessions rendered me mean (like, really mean) my partner asked me to start moving again. I conferred with my care provider who told me that as long as my exercise routines didn’t involve free climbing a cliff or wrestling I was good to continue exercising, at my pre-pregnancy intensity level, without worry. But, I was still super paranoid and cut out my runs in favor of awful pregnancy workout DVDs.
But not Lauren Ferris, mother to 2-year-old son, Connor, and one on the way. She participated in CrossFit workouts before becoming pregnant and continued up until the last week of her first pregnancy. So it’s no surprise that she is still going strong at 38 weeks gestation with her second. And she has the photos to prove it.
These photos were shocking to all the folks I’ve shown, since there’s a common misconception that women should be slow moving and obsessively careful during pregnancy. But really, if a pregnant woman is healthy and has the go-ahead from her care provider, she can safely continue to engage in the same forms of exercise she did pre-pregnancy (within reason, of course).
In Ferris’s case, she checked in with her medical care provider as soon as she found out she was pregnant with her first child, to ensure it was safe to continue with CrossFit. Ferris received the blessing of her midwife, and worked with her fitness coaches to modify certain exercises as her pregnancy progressed.
And they’re not the only ones who believe exercise (strenuous workouts included) can be safe during pregnancy. A study published by the Institute of Movement Sciences and Sports Medicine at the University of Geneva found that “regular physical activity has been proven to result in marked benefits for mother and fetus.” In addition, the CDC states that “healthy women who already do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running, or large amounts of activity can continue doing so during and after their pregnancy provided they stay healthy and discuss with their health care provider …” They even recommend “at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity,” as it’s good for Mom’s overall health.
So, it seems like folks should be passing out accolades to that pregnant lady jogging down the street or the “about to pop,” spandex-clad mama working out at the gym.
Despite continued research proving that supervised exercise during pregnancy can be safe, many pregnant women are still chastised when witnessed working out, specifically when running or weight lifting.
I once had a pregnant client call me in tears when she was in the middle of a run, because a stranger had shamed her for “putting her baby’s life at risk.” Ferris has also experienced versions of this, having been told that she “shouldn’t be exercising while pregnant” (none of which were her medical care providers or fitness coaches, mind you!).
While I would be inclined to share some choice words with such individuals, she takes a calm approach to the naysayers, ensuring them that safety is always her number one priority, saying, “For those that aren’t aware of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, I try to educate them as best I can.”
The gist? Pregnant women shouldn’t aim to become athletes while they’re gestating a human, but they should also (under the supervision of their care provider) shirk the notion that they need to handle their blooming body like a fragile doll, and get to moving and sweating as much as they did before conception.
Exercise during pregnancy isn’t just something a woman’s body and baby can withstand, but also a form of care.
So let’s support all the pregnant ladies in going forth and thriving without shame or guilt! They deserve it.