Guest article: Against every rule? – Through pregnancy as an athlete

This is a guest article by Katharina Püschel. On her German blog “Windeln & Workouts” (Diapers & Workouts) she writes about everything that moves mothers, including sports during pregnancy. The topic is particularly important to the former ice hockey player of the KEC DIE HAIE and passionate crossfitter, as she repeatedly received uncomprehending looks and well-intentioned, but often wrong or even outdated, advice during her first pregnancy in 2018.  At the time of drafting this post, she is pregnant again, at 36 weeks, and continues to train on the barbell, as well as with the Move It Mama app. Today she shares her experience with you.

“…What does your gynecologist say if you lift another 60kg now?!”

This or something similar is how many conversations start during my pregnancy in 2018 as well as 2021, while the first signs of a baby bump are showing. I usually answer truthfully: initially, in 2018, I was also advised not to lift more than 5kg to 8kg during pregnancy. However, after talking more in-depth with my doctor and finding out that I was already able to lift 115kg (deadlift) before pregnancy, and respectively take 85kg into the squat, the gynecologist rowed back. I should do what feels good. And that’s what I did.


Since I had to pause playing hockey, Crossfit and weight training (olympic/power lifting) became even more important to me during my first pregnancy than they had been before. Hanging up on these sports as well would not have been good for me or the baby. That was quickly clear to me. Because even if the information and recommendations in Germany are still somewhat outdated, we actually already know a lot more globally – and thanks to the Internet, you can find out quickly. I read up on studies in great detail and gathered the necessary information from professionals from various blogs, websites and podcasts. Lo and behold, the credo is actually exactly what I could agree on with my doctor. Do what’s good for you and what your body knows and can do.

Note from your MOVE IT MAMA team of experts: please do not take this as a general recommendation or guideline. We recommend training with lighter dumbbells, as barbells carry an increased risk in inexperienced hands. Katharina, on the other hand, is absolutely experienced!

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Every pregnancy is different

Actually, we are already at the crux of every pregnancy topic: It depends on what is good for YOU and what your body is used to. Every pregnancy is different. The health conditions are just as different as the professions of the expectant mothers, their places of residence, their habits in sports and leisure. Likewise, recommendations change from country to country. It cuts across all areas. For example, while my friend Kaoru in Tokyo was still allowed to eat a lot of sushi during her pregnancy, I was strongly advised against it in Germany. So in the end, you have no choice but to be well informed and, above all, to listen to your own body.

That’s exactly what I did. And even if it sometimes looked like a lot from the outside, I never had more weight on the barbell than 50-60% of my possible maximum power. As soon as my abdomen got in the way of an exercise and I couldn’t ensure that it was done correctly, the barbell was replaced by dumbbells, for example. Even in the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, I was far from getting full power. In addition, I scaled and adjusted the exercises appropriately – always in consultation with my trainers – to avoid injuries or even rectus diastasis. Even the smallest tricks help, and almost any exercise can be toned down or switched so that it’s safe for mom and baby. And I always felt better after the workout than before, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. It wasn’t until a few weeks before the first birth that the moment came when I just didn’t feel like it and didn’t have the energy anymore, that I paused.

Note from your MOVE IT MAMA expert team: So you see, even an experienced professional athlete cuts back her training level considerably during the exciting mommy time! Excessive ambition during this time would cause more harm than benefit. Nevertheless, it is important to stick with it and by no means to regard pregnancy as a lazy time, because right now you are preparing yourself – whether as a sports beginner or professional – for a very big marathon: the birth of your little treasure and an exciting time afterwards.


Pregnant training during Corona

Basically, I have now reactivated my experiences from the first pregnancy in the second pregnancy. Through Corona, however, hardly any group sports were possible. At least the questioning looks became less… So I did some strength exercises on the outdoor area of our “L.A.B.” (my fitness box) and exercised at home with the MOVE IT MAMA app. I would be lying if I said the workout was as easy for me this time as it was in 2018. I love working out in a group, I find it much harder to do alone. But an app like Move It Mama can help you do something for your circulation and muscles regularly at home. Especially for areas like abdomen and pelvic floor, I found additional, useful exercises here to train them during this time. This has helped me a lot.

Meanwhile, I’m at the point where I can’t and don’t really want to exercise much during this pregnancy either. And that’s okay. My body will know best, I’m pretty sure. The belly has already dropped a lot, I’m having regular mild contractions – especially sinking contractions. My daughter was also on her way into the world around this time, so I’m a little more cautious now.

I still do the “Relax and Roll It” sessions from the app now though. These are not strenuous for me, but are more of a phase of relaxation. I find that very nice, especially in the mornings when our Mausebär is in the KiTa and I start the day. I also continue to strengthen the pelvic floor and core. There are also special units in the app for this, such as “Mama’s Little Middle” and “Mama Works the Floor“.


Fit for the birth

In the meantime, I am asked more often for tips on sports and exercise during pregnancy, also because of my blog and my eBook. Also, gladly from athletes with whom I train myself and whose ambition I know. From my experience, I can only recommend sports during this exciting time. Certainly, pregnancy is not the right moment to reach new heights, but it can make your everyday life with a baby bump and also the birth easier if you are fit.

Of course, there are never guarantees for a fast and smooth birth and a nice postpartum… But the much higher chance for a smooth birth and faster recovery afterwards was and is reason enough for me to stay fit during pregnancy. I suspect it is for most mamas. And you know: After the game is before the game… I’m already looking forward to slowly getting back into it after the birth, of course first with regression and strengthening for the stressed belly and pelvic floor. Since this is not something I can and will tackle in the gym with barbells, I’m glad that the MOVE IT MAMA app will continue beyond the 3rd trimester and give me a lot of input on recovery and reconstruction with the videos. This will accompany me just in the whole first year after birth and is also for me as an athlete not boring.


About the author:

Katharina Püschel, born in 1984 in Berlin, is a blogger, author, licensed fitness trainer and athlete in addition to her actual profession.

On her blog “Windeln & Workouts” she writes for successful moms across a wide range of topics: from finances for women or recipes to the original reason for the blog’s creation: safe exercise during pregnancy. In early summer 2021, she released her “Windeln & Workouts” eBook and workout planner, which schematically walks through all the major and classic exercises from HIIT, Crossfit, and circuit training to assess their suitability for pregnancy and show scaling options.

Katharina has now lived, studied and worked in 5 countries on 3 continents – but she is always drawn back to the Rhineland. She lives with her family near Cologne and is currently on parental leave.

Instagram: @windelnundworkouts

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I hope you enjoyed Katharina’s post and got some inspiring insights into the daily training routine of another athletic mom. I’m always happy to hear that my program accompanies and motivates other mommies(-to-be) on their way! Check out Katharina’s latest blog post where she describes her experiences with MOVE IT MAMA in more detail.

If you want to read more guest posts, feel free to email us at !

And don’t forget to go to your personal pregnancy, postnatal and mommy fitness plan in the MOVE IT MAMA app.


Keep it Moving,

Your Birte.

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