“Meg the Midwife's” suggestions for working out ‘Paleo-styles’ during pregnancy
1- Listen. Listen to your body’s wisdom…really listen…if you are unable to listen then stop doing crossfit. This sounds harsh but it’s important. There are so many of us “A” types (I totally include myself in this group) running around doing burpees and pull-ups when pregnant. The name of the game during pregnancy is to grow a new life, not to expose a six-pack or set a new PR. Your healthy baby and chilled out body is your new PR. So please, if it hurts, don’t do it. If you’re really tired that day, take a break. Do some light yoga or meditate; you’re doing lots of hard work just growing a new life. This is especially important in the first trimester when your placenta is embedding itself into your uterine wall. As the placenta becomes established, it anchors itself with spiral arteries that connect it directly into your circulation. These arteries supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients. If your body is constantly moving blood away from the uterus to fuel your muscles for a 'Fran' workout , these vessels may not develop in the most optimal way. The take away message: A healthy placenta equals a healthy baby.
2- Nourish your mind, not just your body: Ask yourself this question every day...."Is my workout nourishing my body AND mind ?" Are you stressed? If so, take a break. Prolonged fetal exposure to high levels of maternal cortisol (the stress hormone) have been shown to affect a child’s IQ and cognitive performance. High levels of stress may also contribute to low progesterone levels. Low progesterone in the first trimester puts you at risk for miscarriage. Stefani Ruper from the Paleo for Women has a great post about stress induced low progesterone that's worth checking out!
3-Scale: Be sure to properly scale your workouts. Check out crossfit mom for proper scaling suggestions. Join a crossfit mom’s group. No class at your gym, ask if you can start one! It’s a great way to connect with other pregnant and postpartum mom’s in a supportive environment. Balance your crossfit workouts with lots of long walks or hikes in nature. Being in nature has been shown to improve mood and overall wellbeing. Check out Mark's post here for more reasons why we should spend more time in nature.
4- Chill out: Try to incorporate some sort of relaxation, meditation and muscle relaxing component to your workouts. Gentle restorative prenatal yoga and hypnobirthing meditations are great choices. Practice releasing, rather than engaging your pelvic floor muscles. The Spinning Babies site is one I recommend to many of my clients. The side-lying exercise found here, can be especially helpful if you're a crossfit athlete, runner or cyclist and may have some muscular imbalances in your pelvic floor.
5- Refuel: If you're working out be sure to refuel your body with lots of filtered water (I like this filtration system) and healthy nutrient dense paleo or primal meals.
Recipe for a healthy Paleo Pregnancy Fitness Plan
2x Crossfit mom's/week
Lots of walks or hikes outside in nature
A healthy pinch of yoga
A sprinkle of daily meditation
Remember, these are all just suggestions based on what I’ve learned from hundreds of women. You are your own best coach, so tap into your body’s inner wisdom and connect with what it needs. Happy trails!