Any female training Brazilian jiu-jitsu will probably tell you that pregnancy scares them a little. Pregnancy is scary in a lot of ways, but specifically for a BJJ practitioner, it can mean losing a part of yourself, at least for a little while.
I knew going into pregnancy that BJJ would absolutely continue to be part of my daily life. I was in an active competition season when I found out I was pregnant, so obviously a tournament was cancelled and my training intensity slowed down, but I was able to find a balance in pregnancy and training.
*First off, any decision regarding your mental or physical health, as well as that of your baby while you’re pregnant should be thoroughly discussed and agreed upon with your professional medical provider.*
My prenatal care started at 8 weeks gestation with a team of midwives overseen by an OBGYN. A main point of conversation in my first prenatal visit was my training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and other exercise habits. That conversation was repeated over and over again at each monthly appointment as my body changed to accommodate a growing baby.
Communicating effectively with your medical provider is by far the most important aspect of continuing to train jiu-jitsu while pregnant. If you aren’t comfortable talking about your training with your provider, you either need to find a new provider or you need to take a break from training. While you might know your body well enough, you can’t possibly understand all the changes happening in your body hormonally and metabolically.
With your provider’s support, here are some tips that can help you continue safely training throughout pregnancy:
1. Listen to your body, especially in the first trimester when exhaustion and morning sickness tend to be the worst. If you need rest, take it.
2. Talk to your professor or coach. Most gyms are like family, so hopefully you’ll have their support and guidance in continuing your training. However, if your coach isn’t on board with you training while pregnant, you should probably hear out the reasons.
3. Find your trusted training partners. This is not the time to let the new white belt figure things out while rolling with you. Find a few solid and trusted partners and only roll with them. I also really suggest letting them know that you’re pregnant. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftop if it’s early and you want to wait out the first trimester, but the people you continue rolling with should know what is ok and what is not.
4. Learn to love drilling and flow rolling. No knee on belly, no double under passing drills, no pressure passes of any kind. If you suck at flow rolling (like me), you’ll have to get a lot better at it!
5. HYDRATE. Seriously. If you thought you had to drink a ton of water before, you’ll need even more now.
6. Don’t expect your body to perform the way it did before it started growing another human being. I would get really frustrated if something didn’t work the way it used to, until I realized that my body just wasn’t the same as it used to be.
7. Know if/when you need to stop training. This one is important. Jiu-jitsu isn’t going anywhere. Those mats, those people, those competitions will all still be there when you get back, I promise.
I trained until 28 weeks pregnant and delivered a healthy 8 pound boy in February. Feel free to follow our adventures on Instagram @thebigbjjbusadenture