The great life – kids – training – pregnancy balance…..
Rachel Steadman, coach at Crossfit 3D, mother of 21 month old Ellie and expecting her second in August, has been asked many times about exercising when pregnant and the challenges being a Mum of a young child and training presents and she has kindly provided us with some really useful information and insight on when to exercise, how much to exercise and generally coping with it.
Mostly weight-related – I didn’t have much energy for max lifts and my body was busy doing other things. It was prudent to work at percentages, and also much more productive in terms of getting back to it post-pregnancy.
Any exercises you stayed away from?
Sit ups stopped after about 16 weeks as being on your back can cause problems with pressure on a major vein and cause blackouts. Instead I did things like knees to elbows and when my belly got massive I just had to bring my knees up to the outside of my torso doing them, same with rowing. Then around 6 months running became uncomfortable.
Kipping pull ups etc I kept til 8.5 months and then they started to pull on my bump. Even on the day Ellie was born I was doing double unders and handstands though!
Once my bump started to really stick out I had to scale down weights for Olympic lifts or use dumbbells rather than a barbell – straight bar paths became a thing on the past, and developing a reverse curl technique was detrimental to the form I’d worked hard to get right!
Did you stop training at all?
I kept going until about 8.5 months with proper WODs and then just dabbled with stuff for the last few weeks. I remember the last WOD I did was ¼ Angie, with kettlebell swings instead of sit ups. I felt a pull on my bump doing the pull ups, and discomfort on the squats and decided it was time to take it gently.
What exercises/wods/movements/time domains did you like? Did this differ from when you weren’t pregnant?
The main thing was just going with how I felt on any given day and doing what I could. First 12 weeks I was tired and feeling sick a lot, so short, gassy workouts with medium weights were best.
During both pregnancies I started to feel a bit more energetic at about 13/14 weeks so back to lifting and normal WODs, but again just taking each day as it comes. Then towards the end, running will become uncomfortable (was about 6 months last time). Just a case of if something doesn’t feel right, stop.
My muscle ups went very quickly this time round (didn’t have them last time!) but instead I’m just continuing to work my progressions again so hopefully they’ll come back stronger. I’m also going to follow the Outlaw Way lifting percentages and see how that works in terms of keeping my strength up so it returns faster afterwards as I found I struggled with my strength for ages after having Ellie – probably as I was so tired for a long time! I’ve managed one or 2 PBS since having her but not many and that’s quite frustrating, I was so close to getting a lot more as was just starting to really progress again! It’s worth it though.
This time round I’ve still got Ellie to look after as well as being pregnant so I’ve been more tired and had less time to train because of looking after her too, so short/sharp/intense has been ideal for me, but I’ve also tried hard not to cherry pick and just do what I want as that wouldn’t benefit me! And nutrition hasn’t been the best either, a case of eating what didn’t make me sick, so not optimal WOD fuel!!!
I won’t lie, it was hard work! It took a good year or so to get back there, but I not only got back to my previous levels but surpassed them, which gives me confidence that I can do it all again. With breastfeeding too I had to wait until my body was my own again before I could properly push. I think it depends on how much time you can dedicate to it – I went back to work as well as taking on the Kids classes at 3D when Ellie was 6 days old, and struggled to find time to train. Hopefully it’ll be easier this time round as I’ll be working in the gym!
How do you manage to prioritize time with the gym, toddler, and another baby on the way?
Well, simply put, Ellie comes first, then the gym and if I have time to train after that then I get on it! If the stars align right and Ellie is still asleep when I get to the gym, I try to use that time to get some training in. Ellie has many surrogate aunties and uncles at the gym who are more than happy to look after her if needed while I train. There have been many sessions that I’ve had to stop halfway through or just not start because Ellie needed looking after. This time round, the chances of feeling up for training when I’ve finished running round after Ellie has been quite a challenge, and if it hadn’t been for a few people throwing down the gauntlet and getting me going, I would quite happily have sat the session out! Other times I feel good and have the time to probably do too much in the session because I feel I ought to as I don’t know when I’ll next get the chance!
Maggie Howe 53, Sandra Tearney-Ellis 51, and Sue Hollis 46, are pictured here after tearing up Sandra’s 51st birthday wod at CrossFit Teeside last week. As Sandra explained: “The WOD was based on my age so lots of 51’s, squats, sit ups, kettle bell swings, press ups, then running with a 10kg plate and finishing it all off with a sled pull!! What a way to start your birthday…..it was great!”