Do you think even extremely fit women who do CrossFit while pregnant are taking too much of a risk?
Brandi Dion is a certified CrossFit coach and mom. She's also the target of much ire these days, because along with her exercise scientist husband Steven Dion, she's written a book called The Pregnant Athlete to "show women who are already in great shape that they can maintain a high-level of fitness during pregnancy."
Even well into your pregnancy. Just get a glimpse of one of the images from the book that's already raising more than a few eyebrows ...
As you may know, CrossFit workouts include moves like doing deep squats with a barbell pressed overhead or lying on your back doing a series of stretches -- which are two positions the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend for women in late-term pregnancy. But the popularity of the workout regimen has women like Dion questioning which boundaries are okay to push for women who are CrossFit devotees before they become moms-to-be.
Dion notes, "I would not recommend doing any of this if you aren’t already doing it.” She also says in her defense:
We were not trying to design workouts for pregnant women. We were just documenting what I did during my two pregnancies.
While Dion's "documentation" and other pregnant women recently declaring their love for the strenuous regimen is a testament to every body being unique, even in pregnancy, there are some general recommendations experts hope women will follow.
Certified personal trainer Adela Blevin, CES, explains:
It's like swimming. If you've been swimming for a long time, you can still swim [during pregnancy]. Working out when you're pregnant has many benefits -- help flexibility, improve your delivery. Your body has to be strong to deliver. But CrossFit may require modifications to fit an individual's needs. Every pregnancy is different for every woman.
And even if modified, doctors voice concerns about even the most fit women doing moves like tire-flipping, especially well into their third trimester. Harvard-educated physician and board-certified gynecologist Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of The Hormone Cure (Scribner, 2013) shares her take:
On the one hand, I believe ... [keeping] pregnant women in a holding pattern, ideally on bedrest as much as possible and not jogging or highly fit, is hopelessly Victorian and unproven! On the other hand, I am concerned that CrossFit sometimes keeps women from attuning to their bodies in favor of throwing truck tires, lifting barbells, and otherwise burst training.
But don't get Dr. Gottfried wrong. A self-declared "huge fan of burst training," she advises women:
Stay active, but listen to what your body is telling you. After having two kids, I can't imagine throwing truck tires when 9 months pregnant, at a time when relaxing made all of my ligaments extremely loose. That's a set-up for injury -- unless you have superb form and an expert trainer, highly knowledgeable about pregnant form, watching you.
Ultimately, Dion's book serves as just another reminder that while women should be empowered to keep up their favorite fitness routine while pregnant, we should all check in with our physicians on their specific recommendations, tune into our bodies, and if you intuit that something's not right, know there's no shame in stopping.
How do you feel about this book? Do you think even extremely fit women who do CrossFit while pregnant are taking too much of a risk?