The first two thoughts that ran through my head when I found out I was pregnant was 1) Do I really have to keep this a secret until my first trimester is over? 2) How is this going to effect my jiu-jitsu training?
At the time, I was a blue belt who worked at Katharo Training Center in Littleton, Colorado. I was on the mats for up to four classes a day!
The day after I found out I was pregnant, I trained hard and I felt great. I was cautious not to get my heart rate up too much where it was hard for me to breathe. That was easy. . . at first.
I felt fine and wanted to keep doing everything that I did daily. I wasn’t even sure how I needed to be treating my body. (I wouldn’t see my doctor for at least a month!)
After doing some research, I decided I was going to keep up my daily training schedule. I immediately stopped doing break falls, as well as knee on belly.
I did less and less forward and backward rolls, and occasionally I’d let children take me down.
Luckily, morning sickness never came around. I gained 10 pounds early on, and the worst pregnancy side effect I felt in the first trimester was fatigue. I tried to sneak a nap in whenever possible. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to mention that my boobs were sore. They were sore since the very beginning and up until I quit breastfeeding.
And I was very bad at keeping the pregnancy a secret. Three days after we found out we were having a baby, my husband and I told all of our friends and teammates.
I felt it was important to let my jiu jitsu partners know I was pregnant, so they could be careful and take care of me. I would want to know if someone I sparred with was pregnant.
Now, the thing that made me sad was that half of my teammates acted like I had cooties. They didn’t want to spar with me. They were nervous. I know they withheld from me because they cared, but I remember feeling rejected and crying over that a few times.
I added prenatal yoga into my routine two times a week. And boy, I never knew yoga could be so relaxing, yet difficult at the same time.
Now, we are into my second trimester, where I was excited! I knew I wouldn’t be so tired and worn out. I felt great. My belly was slowly growing. My weight was increasing. My breasts were growing.
I was still training and showing up to as many classes as possible. I usually worked in a group of three, just in case the technique required knee on belly, an inversion or being taken down.
I was still sparring on occasion. My husband and a handful of people would still roll with me. I enjoyed it a lot.
Many people say pick your sparring partners carefully when you are pregnant, and I agree. I had two bad sparring sessions in one day (where a female white belt stacked me up and over my belly and later gave me a bloody nose, and a male blue belt got too rowdy on top of my belly). This was the day when I decided I would no longer spar white belts or blue belts. Upper belts would have more control.
Halfway through my second trimester, I noticed that the warm ups were becoming more difficult for me. I got winded a lot. During backward and forward rolls, break falls and side shrimps, I would jog along the side. (But that jogging really jostled my bladder and it never failed that I would take a bathroom break during warm ups.) And I would breathe so heavily, during and after warm ups, that I hated hearing myself.
It was also during this time that I stopped sparring. This was a sad day! I was on the bottom and when I felt like humpty dumpty just lying there, kind of stuck, rolling from side to side, I felt useless and ridiculous. From there on out, I only practiced technique (and still helped coach during class).
At the beginning of my 7th month, I went on a trip to Disney World and this was the first time my feet swelled. The swelling never went away. . . and at my 30 weeks checkup, I found out why.
I went in for my 30 week checkup, only to be told I had preeclampsia and I had to be wheeled over to the hospital. I had my baby at 30 weeks by c-section.
I missed the most agonizing, last months of pregnancy (but I still managed to gain 40 pounds.) And 5 weeks postpartum, I was back in Jiu jitsu classes.
So, if you ask me, I definitely say yes to training while pregnant. Every person, everybody and every pregnancy is different, so do what feels good (and safe according to doctors) to you.
Girls in Gis writer
Mindy Yager and her husband, Lance Yager, own Select Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Waco, Texas. Mindy is a purple belt who teaches several days a week, mainly focusing on the Youth and Junior Jiu Jitsu classes. She has a 2-yr-old son who has been training jiu jitsu since he was in the womb. Mindy has a degree in journalism from Baylor University and a blog called Jits My Life (link is jitsmylife.wordpress.com)