Tuesday, January 10, 2012

39 weeks and USA Today

Click photo to go to article

USA Today's Rita Rubin went out on an edge and wrote about fit pregnancies in today's paper. She and I spoke after she saw my video "39 weeks"

We had a wonderful discussion. Her keen observations and interest were inspiring. We spoke about the growing number of women who are actively seeking (pun intended) physical fitness throughout their pregnancy. Obviously, this isn't the first time in history that women have been active during pregnancy or even rock climbed during it for that matter. The point she was most interested in is to our cultures mentality of shunning exercise during pregnancy and also the lack of research to back up anything to the contrary. While I was pregnant (and I have an entire 9 months of blog posts if you click along) I tried to be mindful. I spoke with my doctor. I used the amazing amount of knowledge that I have gained about my own body through 7 years of competitive gymnastics, 10 years of dance and Pilates, along with 10 more years of climbing and now, Physical Therapy school.

We spoke about how I came to decide to continue climbing. My reply was very simple. After a clean bill of health I made a contract with myself that the moment climbing didn't feel GOOD, I would stop. And I found that with a shift in mentality, it always felt good! Thankfully.

I've talked to so many women since making the film "39 weeks". I've heard stories of women who wished there was something like this that they had known about. I've talked to women who have gone the distance by themselves as I did. All these women had varying degrees of physical ability both before and after pregnancy but all were able to continue running, or climbing, or dancing, or swimming, etc. throughout.

Personally, I cannot imagine running a marathon pregnant, but that's my body. We are all different and exercise should be a part of every person's life. Pregnant or not. This is the point that should be focused on. Why are we not applying our understanding of the human body and it's healthful functioning to women who are pregnant. Doesn't this seem counter-intuitive. Wouldn't we want women who are growing our future in their bellies to be the healthiest they can be? I know there needs to be a protective layer to all this but not so much that it resists the mere idea based on fear.

This is an amazing time! Here is the opportunity for research. We have started the discussion, let's spread the idea: Pregnant women are strong! I only hope that Johns Hopkins discovers that this statement has meaning.


  1. Carrie,
    I watched this video on the Prana blog a while back - I think it is awesome that you kept climbing while pregnant. You were safe, stayed fit and fed your soul all at the same time. And, you look gorgeous and are glowing! I am a Physical Therapist and a rockclimber too ;)
    I'm going to share the video on my website if it's ok with you?

  2. I couldn't agree with you more! Thanks for getting this word out. Our society really does scare women into immobility during pregnancy - leading to a decline in fitness and health thus upping the national c-section rates (I do know you ended in a section, but I also know you did everything in your power to reverse that). I ran all 39 weeks of my pregnancy and felt fabulous - so many people though looked at me like I was crazy or commented that it may be bad for the baby. If I felt great, the baby was feeling great! Women need to get back to trusting their bodies and steer away from this ridiculous mindset that the female body wasn't properly designed for reproduction.

  3. Ann, of course you can post the video!
    Mama Foosa, I am in 100% agreement. Thanks for chiming in!

  4. Hi Carrie! I so appreciate your video and blog about climbing while pregnant. Im at 5 months and am trying to maintain my climbing, mostly in the gym given midwestern winters. Im almost out of my regular harness and bought a full body harness but im not loving it. Do you know if there are any that are women specific? Did you have one you liked? Help! Im not ready to give it up!

  5. Your video gives me so much hope! I am a bit of a climber myself and I just found out that I am pregnant (shhh…I haven’t even told my family ;). I have been so nervous about my whole pregnancy and how it’s going to affect not only my climbing but all of my other favorite active activities (including aerial fabric acrobatics). The more I research I am comforted that I don’t have to get super out of shape and stop living for the next 9 months. I am already plenty excited to be pregnant but your story makes me that much more excited because I just might be able to keep living during my pregnancy. Thanks for sharing!

  6. You seem to be the leading expert on climbing while pregnant! (i swear the pun is unintentional) Not much info out there it seems.... Anyway, I'm wondering about lead belaying? I'm coming up on 5 months and it's just occurred to me that lead belaying might not be such a good idea either? I was planning to just tr outside but now I'm questioning the belay aspect. What did you do?

  7. Thanks Christy, I enjoyed your pun by the way. I'm no expert. Though I try to be as educated and objective about this subject as I can. About belaying a climber on lead while pregnant..I did belay while I was pregnant. At about 6 mos the climber took kind of a good fall and I was lifted off the ground swiftly. I was still really small comparatively but it caught my attention (notice the pun?). I made the choice then to stop belaying unless I was anchored in or the person was top roping. I know this is a limiting factor but... I think if the person has very little chance of falling (a 5.12 climber leading a 5.8/9 for you) it's a small risk. My concern isn't that it would hurt the baby for this reason: When a full body harness gets yanked it cradles the belly and lifts it. My concern is for your body. Ligaments and muscles in the lower abdominal area start to get very stretched and a quick lift will stretch them more. When you fall with a harness the weight sort of keeps everything together while the belly gets cradled but when you get lifted your body goes with gravity. Know what I mean? It's a mere hypothesis but having felt both myself I would choose the fall over the lift. Good luck with your decision. I hope this helps.

  8. How amazing are you!? I love your attitude about exercising while pregnant. Pregnant women ARE strong! I would love to get in touch with you about the possibility of sharing what you have experienced climbing while pregnant and how have you integrated climbing with parenting. We are runner-focused but I would love to hear and learn from you!!

    In stride,



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