Anyone who knows me, knows I like to push my training to the next level. I LOVE obstacle racing, I love lifting heavy and I am a big believer that you (mums) have the potential to push yourselves, and get wherever you want to go with your health and fitness. Many of the mums I work with become stronger and fitter than they have ever been AFTER having their babies. I believe this, when done well, is down to having more knowledge and respect for their bodies, as well as a greater awareness and ability to listen it. Research has also shown that women in their 30s who are mothers have a higher pain threshold than the general population – go figure!
Keeping this in mind, when I saw a video of a woman doing kipping chin-ups during her pregnancy on a friend’s Facebook page, even I was shocked. I know that every woman is different; I know that her training history will influence what she can do during her pregnancy and, generally, I like to stay open-minded. Sure, we need to treat each person on a case-by-case basis but, quite frankly, there is a line; a point at which I just want to reach out to these women and tell them NOT TO BE STUPID!
This woman is nine months’ pregnant and does 24 kipping pull-ups. Check out the crowd cheering her on? WTF!
This women does 16 kipping pull-ups:
And then there’s this mindboggling article where women are advised to replace strict chin-ups with kipping ones:
“I’ve started to find them pretty uncomfortable since I started second trimester, so I’ve discontinued the strict versions of both. You might notice a tugging feeling in your abdomen, especially once your belly starts expanding and the abdominal muscles start to weaken. Since I’ve had serious issues with diastasis recti before, I like to err on the side of caution to avoid aggravating the problem.”
If you feel a tugging in your abdominals during a strict chin up it simply doesn’t make sense to add load in the form of a ballistic movement (kipping). It puts pressure on rectus abdominals every time you are in extension and loaded by momentum, not to mention the impact on your shoulder joints, which are now under increased load and being affected by relaxin (a hormone that is released to promote relaxation of the ligaments).
And what about the baby? Yes, it takes a lot to harm an unborn baby. In the example of a kipping chin-up though, where do you think this mother would fall should she slip from the bar? While you may say it’s unlikely, with increased load (due to weight gain) and differing weight distribution (due to her growing baby) it is a risk that should be taken into account.
This article also talks about continuing to run during pregnancy. Sure, you can and many women do. Please keep in mind though that you have a growing baby bouncing up and down on your pelvic floor every time you do so. When you have worked with as many injured women as I have and seen the images of damaged pelvic floors post-bub, you might just change your mind so you can give it a better chance of escaping pregnancy in tact!
While there are plenty of exercises that can be performed safely during pregnancy, there a hundred and one different exercises that are not and, really, who NEEDS to do kipping chin-ups 10 days before giving birth? What’s the goal? Most women want to get through their pregnancy staying fit and strong and, actually, many women could exercise a little more intensely than they do. Under the right guidance you can maintain a great level of fitness, help make labour ‘easier’ (is that possible?), and contribute to a faster and better recovery post birth.
My advice is to ditch your ego (and the kipping chin-ups, too). You should exercise – don’t stop! It helps you feel good and stay strong, but it’s a time when you also have to be sensible. You have to rebuild once your baby arrives so you can get back to doing all the things you once could. To give your body the best chance of doing that, you need to listen to it for the nine crucial months that you’re pregnant. And during your postnatal rebuilding phase. You can get fitter and learn even more cool stuff, but make sure you are mindful of any risks to you or your bub. Just ask yourself, “Is it really worth it at this time?”. After all, is proving ‘you’ve still got it’ worth such a potentially costly gamble?
Tell me your story. Did you exercise while pregnant? Did you experience any pain or post-birth recovery issues?