Prenatal & Postpartum Nutritional Recovery for CF Open 2017

Nutrition is one of the foundational pillars of BIRTHFIT.   Currently, the CrossFit Open is entering its fifth week and therefore, the timing is only appropriate to make sure nutrition is discussed in relation to this competition as it relates to the pregnant/postpartum athlete.  BIRTHFIT serves to support women during the important life stages of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Because of this, the experienced BIRTHFIT coaches have offered recommendations for each of the CrossFit Open workouts.  The focus on the recommendations is making sure the movements are safe and yet allowing each athlete to train appropriately while having fun and embracing their community.


The body’s metabolism may be upregulated due the higher demands during pregnancy and postpartum.  Or, conversely, for some women, the pregnancy and/or postpartum time windows affect the thyroid gland in the manner that it may be hypofunctioning, thereby slowing the metabolism.   Additionally, inflammation is playing role already and that may be cumulative to a new level when an intense workout is factored in.  This highlights the importance of each woman knowing what her body’s needs are within this time period.  There is no simple one size fits all protocol for a woman to follow.


Inflammation.  It’s the word on the street lately.  It is used to place blame on autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, food sensitivities and poor healing… to name a few! While this may all be true, inflammation is also a necessary process and a major component of the body’s healing.  Without any inflammation, the body would be unable to initiate any tissue repair.  It is imperative to know that all inflammation is not inherently bad; but it is equally important to address nutrition properly when inflammation is a factor.  Nutrition needs to be kept in the forefront not only throughout the CrossFit Open Season but also as you continue to train throughout pregnancy and start to move and train again after birth.  Inflammation is present with any workout; when done efficiently by the body, it too is purposeful and controlled to enhance healing and build strength.  


During pregnancy, the inflammatory processes can be heightened.  There is a blood supply with 40% more fluid, high levels of hormones, and the body is focusing its efforts on baby building.  Additionally, large amount of nutrients are being shunted to baby day by day.


The postpartum period has its own set of challenges.  Labor was an inflammatory event: controlled and purposeful, but inflammatory nonetheless.  Following birth, there is tissue healing to occur.  Perhaps it was a short and easy birth with less healing required, or a longer labor ending in a C-section with quite a bit more healing needed.  Regardless, the body had very important work to accomplish and inflammation helps this process.  These are important facts to keep in mind when choosing to participate in the Open and recover from workouts effectively.


Inflammation occurring in the body is a nutritional topic.  When inflammation is happening, nutrients are being used: both from the bloodstream and the reserves within the tissue. If a mama is pregnant or postpartum AND competing, it is most beneficial to be sure the nutrient demands are being met and the competition is not acting to deplete.


Pregnant moms often have a very fast metabolism (up to 4 times as fast a one’s non-pregnant metabolism for some women) and it may be necessary to keep a sports beverage nearby – even if in the past water was sufficient.  Natural electrolytes and a little fuel can be found with coconut water or a homemade beverage***  with ¼ organic apple or grape juice, ¾ water and a strong pinch of sea salt, and there are a few natural mixes through qualified supplement companies.  The most commonly known companies seen at local marathons are generally NOT ideal, and for some cause stomach upset.   Sip as needed.


Postpartum moms may feel a bit wiped out already what with labor recovery, newborn and/or baby care, breastfeeding, and reduced sleep.  Joining in on the Open is a great way to reconnect with the gym, friends and community, so packing snacks is the way to make it happen!  Again, a clean electrolyte drink may be necessary as breastfeeding moms are especially prone to dehydration.   


Both groups are recommended to bring a range of snacks for recovery.  Easy protein and carbs can be found with the following:

-Apple or banana and 3 tablespoons of nut butter

-Hardboiled egg and handful of grapes

-Grilled chicken salad

-Chopped fresh fruits and mixed nuts

-‘Clean’ protein shake (no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners)



It is important to eat the recovery snacks within 30 minutes of completing the workout.  Sip the electrolyte drink as needed and use water to quench thirst.

If urine is darker than lemonade, keep drinking!  

***Some homemade electrolyte recipes advise adding a calcium/magnesium powder, this is not necessary if taking a prenatal vitamin and for some, the powders give an upset stomach. This should be tested in training prior to using in a competition.

A little bit of preplanning should be all that is needed to bring the necessary nutrition.  Prenatal vitamins should continue to be taken daily whether pregnant or postpartum, especially if nursing.  Omega 3 fatty acids work optimally to reduce inflammation and kick start tissue repair when already in the tissues.  Maintaining daily prenatal vitamins and  fish oils lays the groundwork to healthy tissue. has two awesome options for fish oils.  

Stay safe, work hard and recover smart!!


-Dr, Gina Sirchio-Lotus




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