Let’s first start this article with a full-on, very serious, and important disclaimer:
A single article cannot possibly answer all the questions you might have about training whilst growing a human. Click To Tweet
Every single pregnancy, birth, and post-partum are different. Even for THE SAME person. Your ability to train while you’re pregnant is contingent on a lot of things that are just plain out of your control:
- Are you plagued by morning (afternoon, evening) sickness?
- Were you put on bed rest for some reason?
- Do you have excruciating round ligament pain?
- Is someone in your life being an absolute jackass about you wanting to continue training or skating during pregnancy?
The good news is that most of these things have time frames in which they occur and stop occurring. (Except for the jackass.) And, while they may derail *some* of your training for *some* of the pregnancy, there are things you can do to regain control over your training and bodily autonomy.
Because, as you’ve probably noticed, your stomach has just become public property. #HandsOff
YOUR pregnancy is your unique thing to experience so it’s difficult to provide direct advice for how you should train or how the ups and downs of your pregnancy might impact any training that you plan. There are, however, some things that you can do while pregnant to help you determine how to proceed with your training:
1) If you don’t know something, ASK.
Ask your doctor. Ask your trainer. Ask your pelvic physiotherapist (yes, you should probably have one). Ask your doula. Ask your midwife. Get a whole fucking posse of people to support you in this.
This is in a perfect world, of course. Where health insurance isn’t wildly expensive or completely non-existent and getting good reproductive health care is simple rather than a tragic, Grecian quest.
The point here is more that most health professionals have gaps in their knowledge. An OB/GYN or General Practioner is going to be great at assessing basic markers of your health but not so good at evaluating your pelvic floor. A pelvic floor physio is going to be awesome at evaluating your pelvic floor and giving you ways to improve its function but not so good at helping you carry those recommendations over to other types of movements or exercises. A personal trainer will be good at helping you manage feedback during training but not able to assess all the markers of health during your pregnancy.
You probably get the idea. Basically, the more knowledgeable and evidence-based folks you have at your back, the easier it will be for you to create a training plan that fits you and your pregnancy at all of its stages.
2) Ask other post-partum folks.
This is a separate number on the list because anecdotal stories aren’t the best for figuring out YOUR situation or fixing what might be wrong.
Okay, STOP. I want you to go back and re-read that last sentence.Having been pregnant does NOT make you an expert on what someone else that is pregnant should do. Click To Tweet
But… it helps to realize that you’re not alone. I don’t think our society values honest conversation between people that are or have been pregnant enough. We’re all just expected to keep plugging along and not acknowledge that EVERYTHING about our lives and our bodies has changed.
These conversations are a super important way to build a community for yourself, consider things that your own health team might not have shared with you, and allow you a place to just BE pregnant. Terrified, exhilarated, wary… whatever that looks like for you.
3) Pregnancy, birth, and post-partum are a marathon, not a sprint.
I’m about to impart some wisdom that I wish someone had slapped me over the head with when I was pregnant:
You are not training for roller derby while you are pregnant. You are training for labor, delivery, and future recovery.
It really IS better to go slow and stead. You’re preparing yourself for an event that is incredibly physically taxing and takes a looooong time. And the sights that you’ve had set on derby greatness will probably need to take a backseat for a while.
That doesn’t mean you can’t train. That doesn’t mean you won’t get back on skates. It simply means that training with intention for where your body is right now will bear more fruit than jumping ahead to something that your body isn’t ready for.
Your pace will be your pace. Some of us recover quickly and some of us more slowly. But this time in your training life is not a competition. It’s a journey.
4) Avoid letting other people’s expectations of you dictate how you approach your pregnancy, birth, or post-partum.
I came back much earlier than I should have after letting expectations get to me and paid for it down the line. This is, of course, anecdotal and should be taken with a grain of salt. But, regardless of how quickly you CAN come back, you should always be questioning whether this is actually the right thing for where your body is right now.
Maybe it is. Maybe you’re 100% ready. But it needs to be YOU that decides that. Not some arbitrary return date you picked before you give birth. Not some tournament you’re desperate to play in. Not the gentle prodding and well-meaning questions of your teammates.
Pregnancy is a huge undertaking for your body in much the same way that playing roller derby is:
- They’re both full-contact.
- Lots of things will change.
- Stuff will happen that you don’t expect.
You just have to roll with the hits and do what you can with what you’ve got.
Join the DERBY, BABY! Facebook Group
It’s a FREE roller derby community created and sustained specifically for pregnant and post-partum roller derby athletes.
The goal is to provide a space for skaters to get evidence-based exercise and training advice to return to skating as quickly and safely as possible. Everyone’s journey is different but I promise that we can all get there.
ANSWER THE QUESTIONS!