NO. JUST, No.
Whew. That felt good. Okay - now let’s discuss.
What I have been seeing ALOT of lately is images or videos of pregnant women doing very high intensity workouts. Let’s clear this one thing up before anyone gets up in arms: I HAVE NO qualms with pregnant women doing intense exercise IF they are being monitored and are AWARE of risk versus reward. None. Seriously. Keep doing you. I don’t know your story.
My issue lies in the fact that the disgusting #pregnantnotdead or #pregnantnotsick hashtag only seems to be attached to the extreme versions of exercise in pregnancy. I see a small (okay, huge) parallel to the #FITSPOSHITSHOW that cleverly masks shaming with INSPIRATION.
This is bullshit.
When questioned, these women (some with massive followings) often cite the benefits of exercise for the health of their baby. Again. I am not here to dispute THAT. The benefits far outweigh the risks for babies health.
**Aside from a few absolute contraindications pregnant women can safely be active in some way.**
BUT WHAT ABOUT MOM?
What about some encouraging messaging about how a wide range of movement can be beneficial for both Mom and baby? Yes, intense exercise is good for baby - but it’s not the be all and end all. There is also low intensity exercise, moderate intensity exercise and non-exercise activity that increases movement over the day and varies our positions more often. What about some education on when some exercises might not be a great idea? What about a little education along with these posts so women can make an informed decision for themselves and their body?
Too often I hear, “why didn’t anyone tell me”? I don’t want to have to hear this anymore. It’s heartbreaking. The women saying these things kept up their intense exercise regimes because only that was encouraged. How many people do you see posting their 30 minute daily walk in pregnancy or a significantly modified CrossFit workout and boasting #pregnantnotdead?
There was no discussion of risk versus reward and how to determine this for themselves.
They were told to “listen to their body” which was changing at lightning speeds.
They exercised in a competitive environment where athlete brain is louder than moderation.
They ignored signs and symptoms, pushing through pain and leaks with no regard to core and pelvic floor.
And then SOME WOMEN are left feeling defeated post-birth unable to return to the exercise they loved. This isn’t okay.
And for the women who didn’t ignore the signs and symptoms or didn’t feel well enough - many left their fitness or sport of choice in pregnancy. They too often feel defeated.
So in going forward - can we all just support that pregnant women are doing the very best they can. That they are making choices that are best for the health of their baby and ALSO for their body? Can we encourage any degree of pain-free symptom-free movement that makes them feel great?
Can we let them know that despite being an elite athlete that pregnancy can be hard and perhaps leisurely walking and yoga isn’t your thing but it’s SOMETHING and worth being recognized as much as maintaining your Bench Press PR?
Pregnancy is a short season of our lives. My goal for exercising women in pregnancy is longevity. I want them to make informed choices so they can remain active in a way that is rewarding to them in pregnancy AND for MANY years to come. This will look different for every BODY. Let’s support Mom’s. The pendulum likes to swing too far, let’s bring it back to the middle and respect that a #fitpregnancy looks different for everybody.