Mum’s the word - CrossFit during and after pregnancy
Becoming a parent changes you, whether you are a Mum or a Dad, and it changes all of your relationships.
You begin a new relationship with your partner as you start to navigate your new role of raising a child, the relationship you have with your parents changes as you perhaps start to understand them through the eyes of a parent instead of that of a daughter or a son and your relationships with your friends and work colleagues’ changes.
But perhaps most dramatically of all, your relationship with yourself changes; your habits, priorities, confidence and self-esteem are all effected by this new little person in your life.
This is true for both parents, but the impact on women and their participation in physical activity and sport is perhaps most dramatic.
In this country (UK) there is a considerable gender gap when it comes to being active (currently 63% of men meet the recommended guidelines compared to 60% of women). This gap begins for most girls at puberty and continues throughout their lives, with an unexpected improvement during menopause (this is potentially due to the benefits of using physical activity to combat the symptoms of menopause)!
There are many assumptions for the disparity between men and women, including lack of confidence, concern over appearance and societal pressure to be “feminine” which can all contribute to the drop off in participation in sports and activity for girls when they enter secondary school (in Year 7 both girls and boys have around the same level of activity both in and out of school, however by Years 9-11 there is a 15% drop off in participation by girls in school and a 7% drop off outside of school.).
Aside from entering secondary school, motherhood is another time where we see women take a step away from being active enough for good health. Guilt for taking time away from your child, concern over fitness levels and ability post pregnancy or the change in your relationship with your body after child birth can all be contributing factors.
But then we come to Crossfit.
Crossfit seems to defy the statistics and buck the trend, with many Crossfit boxes boasting as much as a 70-30 membership split between female and male, with the females dominating.
Spectators of every gender want to watch the women compete just as much as the men, and the prize pot is the same for male and female competition.
It is a brilliant example of equality in sport that should be help up as an example to the rest of the sporting world.
And when it comes to pregnancy and becoming a Mum we are lucky enough to see some amazing examples of Mum’s finding the confidence to continue their physical activity journey. From international athletes like Kara Saunders and Annie Thorisdottir to more local inspiration from athletes like Gina Yates, Becky Pykett and Kelly Friel, we have different inspiration from athletes on different journeys as Mothers, but all finding a balance between health and fitness and being a parent.
This is not an easy path at times, there is stigma, judgement and guilt that comes along with making physical activity a priority. Your commitment to your child is sometimes questioned, your fitness levels can be compared to pre pregnancy and sometimes women who have not chosen the same priorities can make assumptions that cause heartache and doubt. However the benefits of being a “Mummy that Crossfits” outweigh the negatives tenfold. The old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” brings on new meaning when you see your baby with your Crossfit family. The love and community you have around you and your new family is impossible to appreciate enough.
You become a role model for your child, demonstrating that physical activity is a part of family life, you normalise an active lifestyle that is statistically lacking in the world right now. And most importantly you are looking after the body that needs:
Strong arms to hold,
Strong legs to run after,
Strong lungs to sing lullabyes
and a strong heart to love your child for a long, long time.
Becoming a parent changes you, challenges you and brings into focus the important things in life. Your health should never be placed at the bottom of a long list of priorities; as a healthy, fit Mum (and Dad) means parents who can run, jump, skip and carry their loved ones, whilst giving them the tools to create their own active lives in the future.
Article by Llara Munn (@llaramunn)
Further Reading - Best Supplements For CrossFit