Thursday, September 26, 2013

Crossfit while Pregnant?: May not be for everyone but worked for me

If you know me on Facebook, you'll occasionally see posts about me doing Crossfit.
You'll also know I did Crossfit throughout my pregnancy with Esther.

Lately there has been debates going around on the internet about women who lift or workout, and/or do Crossfit while pregnant. Some say it's terrible and unsafe, others say it's wonderful and a great idea! I personally think both can be true.

Crossfit can be one extreme or the other. I personally really enjoy it, think it's fun and challenging! Most of my workouts while pregnant were not very intense and I've always only done what I knew I could. I do push myself, but not in an irresponsible way. I take as many breaks and rests as needed, drink water and hydrate during as much as is needed also. I do believe Crossfit can be very dangerous for those who are irresponsible with it and either don't know their limits or push them too far. But that is true of any workout routine or sport. I enjoy staying active in many different ways. I've just in the past year learned more about Crossfit and my reason for doing it is because I like it and it's fun! I never lift as much weight as is prescribed because I know I can't and usually finish last because I go at my own pace.

I've been thinking about sharing Esther's birth story here on my blog for the past few weeks. I am amazed by all the details and circumstances that were apart of it. How God gave us a beautiful, healthy girl and showed me He did it according to His plan, not mine and it worked out so much better than my plan would have. Usually is the case, isn't it?!
But I haven't yet, partly because I haven't made time, and partly because just because I think it's the coolest thing ever, doesn't mean anybody else cares about all the details.

Well, I've decided I'd share my story and combine it with how doing Crossfit while pregnant worked for me. Just add my two cents, or rather, just my experience and how it worked for me to the debate.

**This is a pretty long, and lengthy post, sorry!!**

About a month before getting pregnant, I had just completed a Tough Mudder event. I wasn't doing Crossfit yet, but I'd been training in a regular gym, and doing some trail hiking/running. I was healthy and in shape.

Around the 1st of November is when I got pregnant. I continued my normal workout routine. The only pregnancy symptom I experienced was extreme fatigue. So, through December I skipped a few workouts due to lack of energy. End of December our local gym closed. So we, and some friends of ours collected some equipment and put up our own gym in our friend's garage/shop. It had very minimal equipment, which was kind of ideal, since a few of us were leaning toward making it a Crossfit gym. End of December is also when some new friends came to spend 5 months as an intern pastor for our church. They had been doing Crossfit for awhile already, and taught us all a lot about it.

That winter was extremely cold. Sub 0 temperatures were the norm for about a month. So, they gym was typically about 15 - 20 degrees F. inside until more work was done to get it better insulated. I, being one who hates the cold, skipped a lot of workouts due to the cold, and still being extremely tired.

I'd say it was about January that I started working out again, and began doing Crossfit. The same friend who helped with teaching us more about Crossfit told me about a website called Crossfit Mom. Which had Workout Of the Day (WOD) posted each day, created specifically for pregnant women.

For several months I did these WODs from that website. Toward the end of my pregnancy I had learned how to scale workouts to what I could do, being 7-9 months pregnant, and knew how much I could safely lift and do.
I continued to do Crossfit up until 40 weeks. The last week of pregnancy, (as Esther was born at exactly 41 weeks) I just walked A LOT. About a couple miles a day, sometimes twice a day.

I had no issues with working out. I had a very easy pregnancy. The worst I ever felt was the extreme fatigue for about 4 - 6 weeks of the first trimester. I always had energy, never was sick, didn't have back or hip pain, no swelling, and was perfectly healthy the entire 41 weeks. I can't yet relate to many of the discomforts and complaints most women have about being pregnant because I didn't experience any of them.

My diet was pretty clean, yes, I indulged in bad, sugary junk food on occasion. It was far from perfect. I simply aimed to eat calories that counted and to get at least 80 - 100 grams of protein each day. Some days I did really well with that, others not so much.  I gained a total of 40 pounds. Which I was happy with since my goal was 35-40.

My husband and I committed ourselves to having a natural birth. We would have preferred a birthing center or home birth but sadly, our only birth option was hospital, a hour drive away. (Yes, we live in a very rural, remote little town). We knew it could be done, we would just have to work a little harder. We choose The Bradley Method for natural childbirth. Attended birth classes and gave the Doctors and hospital staff our birth plan. There were 2 OB Doctors at the hospital, our primary Doctor and a Certified Nurse Midwife. We felt more comfortable with the Midwife and were praying she would be on call when it was time to have the baby. Both agreed to most of our birth plan, but there was going to be things we would most likely have to compromise on, unfortunately. This was something I committed to prayer on a regular basis, that we would be able to have the natural birth we desired.
3 days before giving birth

40 weeks 6 days
Late Wednesday evening I'd noticed slight leaking of fluids, wasn't sure what it was, but finally just assumed instead of my water breaking, it was just slowly leaking. I went to bed, really hoping labor would start that night. Very early morning I had a few brief, mild contractions. I got up around 7am Thursday morning, ate, went for a long walk, relaxed. Contractions were still very mild, but were consistently about 10-15 minutes apart. I had a regular prenatal check up scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon, so since I was pretty sure I'd be in active labor later on, and had to be on the road in a few hours I decided to go back to bed for an hour or two.
Arrived at the Dr. office for appointment. Still having contractions, but they were still about the same as in the morning. Once I finally saw the Midwife, they confirmed that I had been leaking fluid and because of that I should be sent up to the OB department and put on pitocin right away to get labor going because there was a risk or infection. I knew better than this, and that there was very minimal to no risk of infection. So we asked if we could leave hospital, get some lunch, and come back later when labor was more active. Primary Doctor was on vacation, so there was a traveling substitute Doctor on call. The Midwife was headed out of town to pick up her daughter in Salt Lake that evening, so the only Doctor available for the weekend was the Traveling Doctor. At first this bothered me a lot. I didn't know this guy, and he didn't know me. I was so disappointed that the Midwife would not be available for our birth. This had been what I was hoping and praying for. Since the new Dr would be the on call Doctor for the evening they let him decide if we could leave and come back later.
He came in with a copy of my birth plan, looked it over and saw we wanted a natural birth and did not want pitocin at all. So he said us coming back later would be fine, but warned, again, about the risk of infection if we waited too long. I was really happy he looked at our birth plan and agreed to it.

We left, it was about 3:30 by now. Got some lunch. And decided to walk to get labor going. We walked through Walmart for maybe an hour, contractions were about 5 minutes apart or so. We finally decided around 5pm to get a hotel room. We walked the halls and stairs for awhile. My husband was able to take about an hour nap, we both got a shower, and just waited for labor to get more active. Finally by 11pm we were ready to head back to the hospital. Contractions were strong and intense by then.
I was a little discouraged to hear I was only dialated to 3-4 cm at that point. But continued to work through each contraction. Labor was hard, but not painful. Just took a lot of concentration and hard work.
Another really cool thing about the Doctor on call was he didn't force anything on us. When we were checked in at hospital they said he suggested antibiotic via IV just in case of infection. We declined it and all were okay with that. They simply gave me a heplock and no continuous IV fluid. They monitored Baby intermittently also, ask we requested.

At 3am Friday morning, I was finally ready to push! I was so excited because the end was near... or so I thought. I pushed for 2 hours with hardly any progress. Could not see Baby's head yet and nurse said Baby seemed stuck. We already knew Baby was in the posterior position, being face up, giving me hard back labor. I'm still not sure how, or why she was stuck, could have been her position.
Doctor came in and said I could keep pushing, because baby's heart rate was strong and I was doing well so all was good and OK. Or, he could help out with a vacuum assist. I choose to keep pushing. We both were discouraged at this point. I was feeling like I couldn't keep pushing much longer. Between helping with contractions and pushes Matthew prayed a lot. I gave a few very hard pushes and we could finally see baby's head of hair!! That was the boost we both needed and was a direct answer to prayer. However, baby didn't move much more after that. At 4 hours of pushing, the Doctor finally said he would have to use vacuum. I was disappointed I couldn't get her out on my own but knew it probably had to be done.
I ended up loving my Doctor. As he was getting everything set up to use the vacuum he told me to not listen to him, but to listen to my husband who was coaching me. I pushed several more times with the assistance of the vacuum as well as an episiotomy and some tearing. Finally my baby girl was born. She was perfect. And other than needing stitches, I was doing great as well! They of course offered pitocin to help stop the bleeding and help the uterus contract. Which I of course declined and they were fine with. I was just fine and didn't have excessive bleeding.
It was amazing how all the details worked out that the Doctor and nurses followed our birth plan and did exactly as we asked! Even though the vacuum wasn't part of our plan, there were not negative effects from it!

I was disappointed with the need for stitches. And everything I'd heard and read was that it takes a long time to heal and recover from it. But we all were healthy.

Unfortunately, we had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours as they were waiting on test results on Esther because they were still concerned about infection. Of course, she was just fine.

I never had any medication or drugs and neither did my baby. I took a little bit of Ibprofin for the pain from the stitches but that was all.

I really think doing Crossfit and staying active and healthy throughout my pregnancy was what gave me the strength, endurance, and stamina to go through labor naturally. Pushing for 4 hours was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I could not have done it if I was unprepared for childbirth.
My recovery was exceptionally quick. At 2 weeks I felt completely back to normal, I no longer had any pain, discomfort or issues from the stitches and really wanted to be back working out again. I decided to wait until my 3 week postpartum Dr. visit. When I did, he said all was good and healed and I was perfectly fine! I was seriously expecting a typical 4-6 week recovery time, if not much longer due to how severe the tear was and how many stitches I had.

Now, at 8 weeks postpartum I've been back doing Crossfit for 5 weeks, and slowly working up to being able to do more, but still going slow and only doing what my body can handle. I've also lost all but 10 pounds of the pregnancy weight and feel great!
8 Weeks Postpartum

Crossfit during pregnancy worked great for me! I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I had a very positive experience with it. It's all about being responsible and knowing what your limits are.
I had an easy, healthy pregnancy and a natural birth. Not sure if Crossfit made a difference or not, but there definitely wasn't any harm done in doing it.

I'm not saying you should do Crossfit if you're pregnant, or even if you're not. But I do think staying healthy and active during pregnancy has lots and lots of benefits. Doesn't have to be Crossfit, but do something!

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