The Shoulds

***This post was originally written as a Guest Blog post for***

I’ve recently been corresponding with another female chiropractor, whom I worked with long, long ago…. I mean, before-I-was-even-a-chiro long ago.  She has just had her first baby, and now she’s trying to navigate the challenge that is being a working mom.

“Often it feels a lot like you should be able to manage it all,” she said in a recent email.  And that, my friends, sums up the motherhood condition known as “The Shoulds”.

  • I should be able to work as much as I used to.
  • I should be able to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes.
  • I should be able to smile and laugh and play with my baby all day.
  • I should be able to get up early.
  • I should be able to keep my house clean.
  • I should be able to do it all.

Guess what mamas?  You can’t.  Motherhood is an all-consuming, priority-shifting, time-altering new reality.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Well, you have to choose what’s going to change.  You can choose sleep or fitness or work or socializing or housework or….. see what I mean?  There are simply not enough hours in the day to do it all, always.  My choice is less sleep (okay, far less sleep), part-time work, and a perpetually dirty kitchen floor; it wouldn’t have worked for the childless me, but it works for the mama in me.  And I’m slowly recovering from “The Shoulds”.

My motherhood experience began on January 22nd, 2009.

My motherhood experience began on Jan 22nd, 2009.

Burpees and Babies

Let me take my ‘professional hat’ completely off.  I will keep both my ‘mom hat’ and my ‘athlete hat’ on while I write this post.


“Can I still do Crossfit (insert other forms of exercise here) when I’m pregnant?”

I get asked this question quite often around my gym.  My short answer is “Yes”.  This is my long answer:

In 2008, I was pregnant with my son and continued to run until about a month before my due date.  I am a runner, and so, I ran.  I had lots of encouragement along the way- friends applauded me, family supported me, running partners slowed down for me, and people were generally accepting of my choice.  The response was very different three years later when I continued to do Crossfit, my newfound love, during my pregnancy with my daughter.  Aside from fellow Crossfitters, I found a hesitant, reluctant, skeptical response from others.

“Are you sure you should be doing that when you’re pregnant?”  “Is it safe?”  “Do you think that’s good for the baby?”

Yes, yes, and YES.

You see, the beauty of Crossfit is that it can be adapted, scaled, and modified to suit nearly all fitness levels and abilities, including pregnant women.  These were my rules:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  And then hydrate again.
  2. Do not go breathless.  I kept my workouts aerobic rather than the gasping-for-breath-wanna-puke-may-die anaerobic feeling I often get from non-pregnant Crossfit workouts.  It seems to me that if mom is oxygen-deprived, then baby would be too.
  3. If it doesn’t ‘feel right’, don’t do it.  For me, that meant no kipping pull-ups, no box jumps (I did step-ups instead), and no backsquats.  They just didn’t feel right for me, for my pregnancy.  Every situation is unique, every pregnancy is different, every judgement call is individual.

Trust your body.  Trust your baby.  Pregnancy is not a condition or affliction, ailment or disability.  It is a chance for you to give your baby the healthiest mother that you can.  Make no mistake, labour, delivery, and recovery are physical events in which fitness can be a huge help.

So should you continue to do Crossfit when you’re pregnant?  Absolutely.  Should you continue to run when you’re pregnant?  Absolutely.  Should you continue to swim and walk and do yoga when you’re pregnant?  Absolutely.  If you’ve been doing it pre-pregnancy, if you have a low-risk pregnancy, and perhaps most importantly, if it feels good to do so.

3, 2, 1, Go.

On my due date in 2012:  I did a '7-minutes-of-burpeess' workout. I got 52.

On my due date in 2012: I did a ‘7-minutes-of-burpeess’ workout. I got 52.

***I understand that some mothers experience high-risk pregnancies in which exercise is not appropriate.  I was lucky to have two uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies, and the above post is based on my own personal experiences.  It is not meant to be taken as medical advice.  Always check with your midwife or doctor… but listen to your body too, you know it best.