Many moms want to stay fit and keep their bodies healthy during pregnancy. CrossFit is an increasingly popular form of exercise, and many pregnant women enjoy its strength and endurance benefits.
During a CrossFit WOD, you might see burpees, which combine pushups, planking, and an optional jump at the end of each repetition. Are burpees safe for pregnant women, and what safe and easy alternatives are there to burpees?
Burpees are OK when pregnant as long as it’s not a high-risk pregnancy. Starting in the second trimester and continuing into the third trimester, you may need to modify the burpee to accommodate your growing stomach. Stop if you’re feeling faint, having trouble breathing, or feel chest pain.
So when are burpees safe, what modifications or alternatives can you do? Additionally, when can you resume burpees after pregnancy, and is there any time during the pregnancy or a workout that you should stop doing burpees?
Everything you need to know about burpees during pregnancy is below, guaranteeing a safe and active pregnancy.
Are Burpees Safe During Pregnancy?
If you’re looking for an exercise to do while pregnant, burpees are a great option. They’re safe to do during all trimesters with a few modifications, starting in the second trimester when your belly is larger. For even more exercise, burpees are also a great addition to any CrossFit workout you may do during your pregnancy.
There haven’t been many studies on women performing CrossFit exercises like burpees during pregnancy, but there is research about participating in aerobic exercise (in general) while pregnant.
Current studies show no harm to active women or their babies during pregnancy and have shown some positive outcomes because of the exercise. (Source: CrossFit.com: Table 1)
However, exercise — including burpees — is not safe for women with a high-risk pregnancy, such as those with vaginal bleeding, women carrying more than one child, or women with heart or lung conditions that may cause breathing difficulties during vigorous exercise.
For any other pregnant women, burpees are safe, and they’re a great way to get your recommended exercise during your pregnancy. (Source: March of Dimes)
When Should I Stop Doing Burpees During Pregnancy?
Now that we know that burpees are safe to do during pregnancy, is there any point in the pregnancy when you should stop doing them? Not exactly. Although there’s no specific time to stop doing burpees, you’ll need to modify your burpees to accommodate your growing baby.
Your body may also start showing you signs that you need to stop doing burpees altogether, and these signs apply to any workouts you do during pregnancy.
Traditional burpees are safe to do in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, as your body changes significantly into the second trimester, specifically your growing belly, you should stop doing traditional burpees and look for an alternative or modified version.
Since your stomach is growing, you won’t be able to do a burpee without your stomach hitting the ground on each repetition.
Additionally, you’ll need to stop your burpees entirely if your doctor advises you to do so. For example, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or exercise too much where it may strain your body past its limits, your doctor might recommend you quit burpees for the time being.
There are also many signs that you should stop exercising in general while pregnant. Any shortness of breath, chest pain, or feelings of faintness are signs that you should stop exercising immediately.
A more serious sign would be if you experience vaginal bleeding or any contractions or swelling in your legs. If any of these signs occur during exercise, consult your doctor before returning to the gym. (Source: March of Dimes)
What Are Safer Alternatives to Burpees When Pregnant?
Burpees will often be part of a more extensive exercise routine, usually part of a CrossFit workout. If you can no longer continue traditional burpees or need to remove burpees from your routine completely, there are other options out there.
You can modify burpees in multiple ways to accommodate your changing body and energy levels as your pregnancy progresses.
As an alternative to standard burpees, pregnant women did box burpees beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy and continuing into the third trimester.
Box burpees prevent the body from getting as close to the ground as a standard burpee, leaving extra room for a large and growing stomach. (Source: CrossFit.com Library, 2011)
Additionally, Healthline advises against jumping at the end of a burpee when you enter the second trimester.
Another alternative to box burpees is squat burpees. For these, you’ll have an elevated surface in front of you. Then, squat down with pointed toes and return to a standing position.
Do a pushup using the elevated surface in front of you to complete one repetition. These modified burpees are safe for the second and third trimesters. (Source: Healthline)
A final alternative exercise to burpees is an elevated pushup, which is more accessible than the two exercises above. There’s less movement because there’s no squatting, planking, or jumping, but the pushups will keep your arms and upper body moving.
Use an elevated surface in front of you to do a pushup, leaving extra room for the belly so that it doesn’t hit the ground. (Source: Healthline)
When Is It Safe To Resume Burpees After Pregnancy?
After giving birth, how long should you wait before resuming your burpees? And which type of burpees should you do: traditional or modified? It ultimately depends on how your delivery went and what kind of delivery you had (vaginal or cesarean).
After your pregnancy, it’s important to resume your exercises slowly as your body heals.
Low impact burpees and alternatives — like the ones suggested for the second and third trimesters — are safe to resume approximately one to four weeks after giving birth, depending on the type of delivery you had. (Source: ACOG)
Women who had a c-section delivery should usually wait longer to continue exercise and burpees after delivery than women who have vaginal deliveries. If you have a c-section birth, you should also consult your doctor before starting any exercise program after pregnancy. (Source: ACOG)
Start your post-pregnancy exercise slow and begin with only half of your regular exercises. Gradually work your way back up to your normal routine. Try to wait six weeks before resuming more intense burpees like traditional burpees with jumping and planking. (Source: WebMD)
When you continue exercising after pregnancy, the ACOG recommends that you try to exercise for at least twenty minutes per day. As stated above, start slow and work your way up to more intense exercises. (Source: ACOG)
Stop doing burpees and any other exercises if you experience any uncomfortable or painful symptoms, just like when you were pregnant. These include difficulty breathing, discomfort in your abdominal area, or feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
Burpees are safe to do during pregnancy, with a few exceptions. Women with high-risk pregnancies should not do burpees. Neither should women experiencing symptoms during burpees, like difficulty breathing, contractions, or vaginal bleeding.
If you want to do burpees while pregnant, you need to modify or replace them with a different exercise as you reach the second and third trimester.
There are multiple ways to alter your burpees, and you can resume these modifications as early as one week after your delivery. You can continue standard burpees approximately six weeks after your delivery at your doctor’s discretion.