Gym + Baby Bump = Good Things

A recent article on the CBC website has been making the rounds on social media. It looked at a small research study from the University of Montreal that examined at how a Mom’s exercise levels during pregnancy may effect their baby after birth.

It was an interesting pilot study (i.e- we’ll take the results of a 10 person study with a grain or two of salt) as the debate rages on in the court of public opinion on Moms-to-be doing strenuous exercise. Most notable to this debate is when mothers are doing things such as CrossFit; a high intensity workout involving a mix of cardio and weighted elements. I’m reminded of the public outcry when photos of a Pregnant lady doing CrossFit was making waves throughout social media platforms. What many felt was an “unsafe” practice during the “delicate” time of pregnancy, may very well be the best thing for Mom and baby.

CF mom
Taken from

In the article they speak about the research and how it was found that children of active mothers have more brain activity in reaction to an auditory stimulus, when tested between 8 and 12 days old. The women were doing moderate exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week.

So what does this mean for the average pregnant gal? Does it mean to run to your nearest CrossFit Gym and throw around the weights? Not necessarily. CrossFit is a great workout, as are other great cross-training programs in Burlington, ON. The key, however, is in the trainer. Those who understand that pregnancy requires a special attention. The rule of thumb being that ladies are free to do most exercises they were doing prior to becoming pregnant so long as they can pass the ‘Talk-Test’. The ‘talk-test’ is quite simply whether or not you are able to carry on a conversation while doing the workout. If a Mom-to-be is unable to carryout a conversation then there is some concern for the safety to the baby. Certain lifts and exercises are also to be avoided (I’m looking at you burpees!) for obvious reasons, and a trainer able to recognize these limitations should be sought.

Simply put, I have had patients that are able to continue with their regular exercise regimen (running, CrossFit, Weights, etc) and thrive late into their pregnancy; and others that can only muster a brisk walk when prior to pregnancy they were very active.

Here is the key take home from this whole study, in my opinion:

  • Do what you are capable of physically. The more active one is through their pregnancy the better. (Not everyone is going to bounce back directly after birth, in fact, most wont!). Exercise during pregnancy will prepare one for the rigors of the birthing process, and the challenges there after.
  • Look for professionals who will help you reach YOUR goal. Parent (and parent-to-be) shaming seems to be on the rise. Do what YOU feel is right for YOU and YOUR child. Let those telling you that ‘you’re doing it wrong’ fade to the background as long as everything is safe for mother and child.
  • If something is holding you back physically, seek out a qualified Chiropractor to assess how things might improve. Remember though, not all Chiropractors are comfortable working with pregnant patients. Ask your health care team (Midwife, Doula, etc) or friends who they recommend. (failing that… reach out to me… I likely know someone in your neck of the woods).

Remember, this research suggests that activity during pregnancy will help with the brain development of your child. It is by no means conclusive, but activity levels during pregnancy should help with the overall pregnancy. Many factors could be at play not the least of which being the nutrition and nerve supply to the developing fetus.

Let’s just work on keeping everyone safe and developing; if we end up with Baby Einsteins… call it a bonus!

Be well.

Dr. Matt Lindsay, DC
Aligned Chiropractic, Burlington, ON



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