By Leah Fremouw
This last 12 months of my life have been crazy, amazing, stressful, beautiful, empowering, scary, and life-changing. It was about this time last year I found out I was pregnant, and just 3 months ago I gave birth to our son, Hazen. After two years of trying, one miscarriage, and a lot of doctor visits, we were cautiously excited as our journey into parenthood began.
At this point, I had a lot of questions and concerns – what can I eat? How will my body be changing? Is this (insert anything) normal? When do we tell people? Etc. The one question I didn’t have though, was, “Can I exercise?”
I knew from the beginning that staying active throughout my entire pregnancy was going to be very important to mine and my baby’s physical and mental health.
I made a commitment early on to do something active every day during my 40+ weeks. I loved being pregnant and found it relatively easy. Sure, I ended up over 200lbs and couldn’t see my feet, BUT I was lucky enough to stay really mobile and somewhat comfortable the whole time. I believe this had everything to do with my activity level.
So, what kind of exercise did I do? Prior to getting pregnant, I had been doing a mix of things for many years. I am a CrossFitter, a kickboxer, and a runner, and I did all of these at some point during my pregnancy. Actually, the only thing I stopped doing completely was the kickboxing, for obvious reasons. I did CrossFit, lifted weights, and even ran up until my 39th week.
I kept these in my routine because they felt good and my body was used to doing this type of work. Sure, there were days when things didn’t feel good so I would stop immediately, scale it, or try a different movement.
I always listened to my body.
Because of this I was able to do what I wanted to do throughout my whole pregnancy.
Being a big, round, pregnant person in a gym is kinda fun. I would walk into the gym with my huge belly to do a WOD and get both accolades and anxious looks. I got a lot of advice (outside of my doctor) on how to exercise and treat my pregnant body.
[Tweet “Because I was pregnant, people treated me like I was suddenly made of glass and needed to be kept in a bubble room.”]
Some of it I listened to, and most of it I didn’t. Although people mean well, it seemed to me that most of the advice was uninformed and significantly underestimated how strong a woman’s body is.
After 42 weeks of pregnancy, 24 hours of labor, and an unplanned c-section, I gave birth to a healthy 9.5lb baby boy. The unplanned surgery increased my recovery time by two weeks but didn’t really slow me down. The fact that I remained strong and active give me the ability to recover very quickly. I was able to sit up and get out of bed within 24 hours post-op; within a week, I was walking in my neighborhood; and at 5 weeks post-partum I was back in the gym lifting VERY light weights.
I am now 13 weeks from my little guy’s birth, and I am within 10lbs of my old PR’s, only 1 minute slower on my 5K pace, and feeling great. I attribute all of this to staying active and strong during my entire pregnancy.
Now, I know not every woman will be able to maintain the same routine they had pre-pregnancy. I recognize how lucky I am to not have had any complications that limited me, but my main message here is to stay moving and do what feels right for you and your baby.