CrossFit During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Pregnant woman exercising with a kettlebell After an expectant mom in California posted photos of herself lifting weights during a CrossFit workout at eight months pregnant, there was a lot of controversy in the media about the safety of this fitness regimen during pregnancy. I recently learned about some of the comments that voiced concern and outrage, some comparing this mother’s workout to drinking or smoking. The truth is, as long as a woman is under the guidance of her healthcare provider, it really is okay for her to continue with her pre-pregnancy workout – even CrossFit. However, it’s important to note that not all moms can continue with the same workout routine they were doing prior to pregnancy. Many of them want to, but their body may not allow it. Runners sometimes have to become power walkers and CrossFit athletes usually have to scale back their workouts quite a bit. For some moms, walking is about the only cardiovascular activity that their body will allow, and that’s okay! CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance and flexibility. The “workout of the day” (or WOD) is typically intensity-based. This fitness regimen isn’t suitable for every pregnant woman and certainly not for beginners. But, for someone like this mom, who spent several years doing this type of workout, it is acceptable. This woman listened to her body and scaled accordingly as her pregnancy progressed. Exercise is encouraged during pregnancy because there are many health benefits to both the mother and her baby. The healthier and more physically fit a mom is, the easier her pregnancy and possibly her labor will be. Exercise also helps reduce a woman’s risk of diabetes and hypertension that can develop during pregnancy. For the baby, some of the benefits include a healthy birth weight and better oxygenation because the mother’s blood vessels are actually enriched during exercise. The key to a safe pregnancy workout routine is to listen to your body and only do what your body will allow. And, if you continue with your CrossFit routine or similar workout, a workout buddy is important, since a lack of balance during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of accidents. I urge all expectant moms to focus on a healthy exercise program during their pregnancy, whether it’s walking, yoga or something more vigorous, as long as she and her healthcare provider are working together.