Traditionally, pregnant women have been encouraged to reduce levels of physical activity due to concerns that exercise could negatively affect pregnancy outcomes. However, more recently these conservative beliefs have been proved wrong, not only by extensive studies but by the women themselves.
Laura Haddow is one of these incredible women. With small adaptations here and there, Laura trained all the way throughout her pregnancy and even up to the day of giving birth to beautiful baby Leo. With the support of her husband, Paul and her close knit community, Laura fought back against the misconception that pregnant women should diminish their training regime and as a result, has come back stronger than ever and is an absolute role model to other women.
This is her incredible story…
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your story before starting CrossFit?
A: When I was younger, I was really active doing sports like netball, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, sailing and horse riding. I moved back to the U.K. when I was a teenager and stopped everything. After that, I HATED exercise. It always seemed so hard and I couldn’t ever seem to find the motivation. I just felt like I couldn’t do anything. I was so weak that I couldn’t even do a single push up. I didn’t really do any real form of exercise for a long time.
After I left University, I eventually started doing some group exercise classes which I enjoyed much more than working out alone. But, It wasn’t until I found Crossfit that I found something that I really loved.
Q: How did your journey first lead you to CrossFit?
A: I was doing some of the circuit style/HiiT classes at another gym. When I came out of the class, the guy who was coaching the Crossfit sessions came over to talk to me and told me that I should try his classes instead. I thought he was joking at first – the classes looked terrifying! Lots of noise, lots of scary strong people. I was eventually talked into it. I tried out my first class where I only used a pvc pipe and then an empty bar to do deadlifts. Several months after that I joined InnerFight and haven’t looked back since.
Q: How much training were you doing before you fell pregnant?
A: I trained pretty regularly at Innerfight before I became pregnant around 5x times a week – sometimes joining the gymnastics and weightlifting classes too.
Q: When you fell pregnant, what were your first thoughts regarding training?
A: In the very, very early stages I stopped any intense training just as a precaution. I had previously had a miscarriage and I was a little worried in the early stages again until I had the first scan at least. In the back of my mind I wasn’t really sure whether it was going to happen again. I went on holiday for a few weeks during this time so it was actually the perfect opportunity to relax and take time away from the gym.
Q: How did you change your training and where did you get this information from?
A: After I had my first scan, and everything looked great, I had a new sense of confidence that everything was going to be ok. I just got back to my usual training. I told Marcus, and the coaches very kindly adapted things where necessary. I told myself then that I was going to train the whole way through pregnancy. And so that’s what I did. I actually went into labour in the evening after I had completed a Thursday Therapy session in the morning. I avoided running – probably more just because I hated running rather than actually needing to stop running. Any excuse! Running was swapped with rowing or assault bike instead. The only other things that I stopped later on in the pregnancy was sit ups/handstands and when I did burpees I put plates out for my hands so that my bump had some extra room to not hit the floor. Box jumps eventually changed to step ups. I also avoided max lifts but still managed some reasonably heavy weights. I even took part in the celebrate fitness competition while heavily pregnant and well as the Crossfit total.
Q: How did your training regime help you during your pregnancy?
A: It made me stronger both mentally and physically. It kept me healthy throughout the entire pregnancy.
Q: What were your biggest concerns and how did you get past them?
A: Before I got pregnant, I was worried that I would hate my body getting bigger. But surprisingly I didn’t, I just thought it was amazing what your body is capable of. Then I was scared that I would never lose weight or get back into ‘shape’. But to be honest, for the moment this just isn’t really a focus. I have other priorities and feeling pressure for my body to look a certain way just isn’t one of them. I’m training simply because I love training and I love going to Innerfight.
Q: How soon after giving birth did you get back into training and how does your training compare now to pre pregnancy?
A: I started training at home 2 weeks after having Leo; just quick bodyweight things where I could hold Leo when needed such as air squats and lunges.
After 5 weeks, I started my PT sessions with Mia. I couldn’t wait to get back but I was also worried about being so weak and unfit. It’s a bit of a shock to the system and your body has obviously just been through quite a big event. Even though I felt great, I knew that my body still needed time to recover.
I think that the lack of sleep was probably the most difficult thing to cope with pre baby. But I always felt great after I had finished a training session with Mia. She listened, she changed things where needed, she pushed me when I thought I couldn’t do it. After a few sessions with her, I was able to get back into the mainline classes too.
In my training now I’m not so concerned about beating my previous times or weights, some days it’s enough of a success just to show up and survive.
Q: What advice would you give to other women who were in your position?
A: Speak to your coaches. Watch your diet – don’t see pregnancy as an excuse to over eat. Train. Find time to relax. Your body will change and that’s ok. It’s more than ok – it’s amazing.
Q: Can you tell us the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in the last year?
A: A stolen quote but I think this sums it up quite well- “becoming a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”
And secondly, sleep is very important!
Q: What do you still hope to achieve?
A: I want to set the best example for Leo to let him know that he can do anything! I plan to try some new things. With the help of Heidi Jones, I’m going to do some trail running and I also attempting some running/obstacle events such as ToughMudder.
Feeling inspired after reading Laura’s story? Of course you are! If you are new to CrossFit then come and sign up to our NEW STARTER program and we’ll get you on the road to your new adventure. Or if you want to know more about how we can help with your pre/post natal training program then drop us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to discuss your options