Chaunie Brusie- a Labor and Delivery registered nurse and a mother of five wrote: “After being pregnant for six years straight and never exercising through any of my four previous pregnancies, I started attending a CrossFit-type gym when my youngest was around two years old. With the support of my doctor, I continued exercising throughout my pregnancy”
CrossFit exercises are high intensity and high repetition movements such as jumping onto a box or deadlifting weights. Brusie stated that because she had been exercising before becoming pregnant, she felt stronger and more aware of her body. She knew what she could handle and didn’t push herself to the limit because it wouldn’t have been good for the baby.
Having said all that, all expectant mothers should discuss any exercise regimens with their physician and only do what's recommended. Some forms of heavy lifting and abdominal workouts aren't suitable for pregnancy, but there are more options open to pregnant women than they realize.
Brusie noted that not only did exercising during her pregnancy help in the delivery room but also at home afterward. She explained that when she visited her midwife for a postpartum visit, she was told that she didn't have “significant diastasis”. Diastasis is the separation of the abdominal muscles. They become stretched in order to make room for a baby, and sometimes they don't come back together as tightly as before. A majority of women experience Diastasis postpartum- but as long as the separation is no longer than two inches, doctors won't worry about it. Yet Brusie was surprised to hear the news because she “had gotten so big”. However, she realized that exercising while pregnant must have helped her body recover more quickly than before.
Recovery is a subject Brusie definitely stresses to expectant mothers because she has a new understanding of its importance. As an athlete, recovering from a vigorous workout before exercising again is crucial for the body. Brusie related that recovering from delivery was more important than getting back into the gym as soon as possible. She wanted to take the time to “celebrate” what her body had accomplished because that’s what it needed. She encourages mothers to do the same and “not obsess” over what their bodies used to be.
Exercising may be the last thing on a mom-to-be's to-do list when she’s preparing for a baby. But it should still be on that list! By Brusie taking the time to understand her body and its capabilities, she became stronger for herself and her newborn.
“I know more than ever how important exercise can be during pregnancy — not only as a way to feel better throughout those rigorous nine months but as a tool to help prepare for the truly hard part: postpartum," she concluded.