I've been thinking a lot about athletes and pregnancy lately. Several women at my gym are either pregnant or have recently given birth, and I've been watching them and feeling pretty dang envious. One woman in particular was still doing handstand push-ups well into her 6th month, and the way that everyone talked about her with reverence kind of set my teeth on edge.
I acknowledge and own my envy here. I know that most pregnancies are healthy and normal, and that it's perfectly fine for athletes to keep on working out the way they have been, only at a lower pace/risk level for however long they feel like doing it through pregnancy. And I encourage this! I don't think women should be confined to fainting couches if their pregnancies are normal. I hated when, during my first pregnancy, someone would tell me that I shouldn't carry something or move something, just because I was pregnant.
Of course, those were all the people thinking "I told her so" after my miscarriage.
Having a high-risk pregnancy meant I wasn't taking any chances. I took a year and a half off of CrossFit, to be pregnant and recover postpartum. I do not regret this, not for a second. It let me have a healthy, active baby, and a recovered body, with a solid pelvic floor. I feel good.
But it's still hard to see women making PRs and doing better at the WOD than me, now, and have everyone hold them up as examples of what everyone should strive for. I celebrate those women. I think they're amazing. I'm totally envious that they're able to do what they do, and I hope they keep on doing it. But this one-size-fits-all mentality has got to go.
It's not right or appropriate for all women to continue with high levels of activity through their pregnancies. Every body and every pregnancy is different. We need to trust women to tell us what they need.
I realize that the words of those in my gym are a reaction to a culture that tells pregnant women they can't be active and have to take it easy, and that's not great for athletes that are used to breaking barriers and pushing boundaries. And I do think we should encourage athletes to do what they feel comfortable doing. I just don't like it when someone assumes that all female CrossFitters *should* be able to keep going like that. Not everyone can. And not everyone wants to.
Trust women. Trust us when we say we need to modify the WOD. I simply will not do crunches, V-ups, really long planks, or anything that puts a bunch of pressure on my pelvic floor, because I don't want to pee myself during exercise, and I don't think that anyone should have to. There are plenty of ab exercises that are safe. Ditto for double-unders, box jumps, long runs, etc.
Honestly, I need never do the exercises that compromise me, because I'm never going to compete at CrossFit. I never wanted to be a competitor; I only ever wanted to get in better shape and have an ass people could bounce quarters off of. And neither of those goals means I need to do 75 sit-ups during a WOD. So that's that.
I trust myself to do what's best for me, and I will advocate in and out of the gym. My box has been super great about it. All the trainers are rad and have been really open to anything I needed when I brought up these issues. I think pregnancy/pelvic floor health/etc. have all been things that we're all more willing to talk about, which is nice.
I just hope society follows someday. I hope no one ever feels shamed for doing what they need to do to have a healthy and safe workout. And frankly, if you do manage to be active while pregnant however you get there, give yourself a pat on the back or a milkshake, whatever, because that's a victory no matter what.