VIRGINIA BEACH- When it comes to staying fit and reaching goals, there's no limit to what people who practice CrossFit will do, even women, when they're expecting.
"It's just who I am, it's what I do. I love it," explains Erica Brown. Her son Hunter is just over a year old and she did CrossFit her entire pregnancy.
"I have a background in sports, and this really kind of fulfills my need for competition, even though I'm an adult now," shares Michelle Wakeman. Her son Hunter is 7 months old.
"it made me feel better, it's my stress reliever," says Rachel Seaux, who not only worked out while carrying one-year old Sebastian, she also served as a CrossFit trainer.
"I worked hardcore until about two weeks before she was born, but I was still doing tons of cardio, up until I delivered," says Patricia Redifer. Her daughter Evelyn is five months old.
Whatever the motive, we discovered, more and more women are asking their doctors about working out while pregnant. And the advice they're getting is some common sense stuff.
Dr. Bonnie Dattel, the Associate Director of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, says it's okay to continue doing things like push-ups, pull-ups, deadlifts and overhead squats "if" you're doctor says it's okay.
However, Dattel says, if you have ANY complications whatsoever, with your pregnancy -- put the workouts on the backburner and NEVER start anything new.
"If it's something you've been doing all along, you can do it to your capacity, but you shouldn't necessarily press for something new; like if you haven't done a triathlon, this is not the time to start training for one," explains Dr. Dattel.
The day we caught up to mom-to-be, Amanda Justus, she was teaching a class at CrossFit Rife in Virginia Beach and preparing to do a workout for the annual CrossFit Open. She was five months along and dealing with severe morning sickness, every step of the way. But, she kept coming back to the gym.
"It would feel so much better after I cam in and got a workout in," explains Amanda.
Another mom-to-be, Aubree Layton, let us follow her for a workout. Thirty-eight weeks into her first pregnancy, she say the worst part for her is shortness of breath. But, the doc says, that goes with the territory when you're that far along adding, it's something women who workout, need to monitor.
While they're at the gym, all of the CrossFit moms and moms-to-be we interviewed say, listening to their bodies is one of the most important things they do.
During our interview with Aubree, she demonstrated several difficult CrossFit movements including overhead squats, kipping pullup's and dumbbell clean & jerks. She scaled ALL of the exercises to fit her pregnancy.
"The pull-up's, they're a little more challenging now, with the extra weight and having no abs, but I can still do a couple."
Aubree says it's worth it, to work-out as close to delivery as she can, "I think it's important to stay healthy all the time, especially when you're pregnant, for you and your baby. You can continue working out, you just might need to change a few things or scale back a little bit."
Aubree had her baby, James, exactly three weeks after our story shoot. He's a healthy 6lb, 10oz little boy. She's hoping all of her workouts before, during and after pregnancy will payoff, "I'm hoping it'll, you know, it'll result in a faster recovery afterwards."
It did for Rachel Seaux. She has a background in exercise science from Ohio State University and has been CrossFitting since 2006. She's also a certified CrossFit trainer.
Having her son, just over a year ago, didn't slow her down in the gym. In fact, she says the principles of CrossFit "helped" her during delivery.
"I was holding my breath and I had to think about pushing through my heels and it was actually easier to get him to move down."
Dr. Dattel, herself a runner and tri-athlete, confirms, being fit and healthy can help during delivery. She encourages ALL women to exercise during pregnancy, unless there are complications that prevent it. But, she notes, extreme fitness isn't for everyone.
Her suggestion is simply to walk, and walk often, but she says there's something even better, "Swimming is the ideal exercise for pregnant women for a variety of reasons. One, you don't get overheated because you're in the pool, you're much less prone to injuries because it's not weight-baring, and it's an overall exercise."
For the women we interviewed for this story though, it's CrossFit or BUST. And, they all agree, it helped them not only with their deliveries, but to bounce back afterwards and get back in shape.
"Oh, absolutely, doing it before pregnancy, during pregnancy and afterwards, I think definitely helped," says Erica.
Again, Dr. Dattel, a mom of two, says you should consult your doctor about your fitness regimen while pregnant to be sure there are no issues with the actual pregnancy itself, that would prevent you from exercising.
She says the book Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month by Month is a good resource. You can find a link to it here.