Are you pregnant and wondering if you can still do BJJ? Or maybe it’s your partner or someone you know. A baby is the most precious thing in the world, so should someone do BJJ while pregnant?
You can train BJJ while pregnant, but your training must be modified for safety and be approved by a qualified physician. It is important to use drill positions that don’t put pressure on the stomach, like top mount & half guard, and drill with someone you trust. At around 7 months pregnant you should stop training altogether.
In this article, I will explain how you can adjust your BJJ game and keep on training while pregnant! You might think you will fall off your BJJ game, but if you modify your training during pregnancy, it could actually improve your game in the long run. Find out how!
How To Still Do BJJ While Pregnant
First, once you find out you’re pregnant you should immediately talk to your doctor or a registered physician. They are medical experts and can give you specific recommendations on what is safe and not safe to do. All pregnancies are different so it is super important to not skip this step!
Second, talk with your instructors at your gym, who likely have had their own experiences with pregnant students. They know your BJJ level, and more importantly what drilling/sparring partners you should roll with, as you need to be specific with who you train to protect the baby.
While expensive, seeing a fitness professional who has a solid understanding of pre-natal training is a good idea. This insight is important in creating the most effective and safe training program for you and your baby.
Luckily for you Eva Torres Gracie, the wife of 4th degree Black Belt Rener Gracie, in the video above explained how she trained BJJ while pregnant. I will explain all the main points below just for you!
She started telling people at around 12 weeks that she was pregnant. I advise you to start telling people in your gym as soon as you can, as all the safety measures I will recommend mean nothing if no one knows your pregnant!
Between weeks 12-17 she only sparred with her husband Rener Gracie. If you have someone you trust it is okay to do light sparring or drilling, but they must have the superb technique and be in control of their body.
Avoid positions that put excessive pressure on the stomach, like being under top mount or even worse knee on belly.
After 17 weeks she advises to only train positions and techniques that do not hurt the baby or worry her training partners about her or the baby.
It also wouldn’t be fair on your training partners if they injured the baby or you. They may never forgive themselves and would live with what they did for the rest of their lives
Safe BJJ Positions For Pregnant Women
- On top of mount
- Side Mount
- Half Guard
The pressure from these positions is all controlled by the lady, giving her the freedom to adjust the pressure depending on how comfortable she is. You can still train submissions from the mount/ side mount with guard passes and half guard passes.
Working in groups of 3 was key, as being pregnant you don’t want people to feel they are limited while training with you. Having an extra non-pregnant person means they can both do their own thing and you can join them when you can.
You can help them figure out what they are doing, and work and learn with them.
Ultimately getting a good partner who knows their own body is key, as accidental collisions to the stomach with body parts like the shin or elbows can and WILL happen.
Don’t risk partnering up with someone who doesn’t have control of their own body even if you feel sad for them, the potential risk is too much.
Never feel bad about training while pregnant. If BJJ makes you happy, you know your own body and what it is comfortable with and what it is not, and if you have consulted with your doctor, then by all means continue to train. After all, a happy Mommy is a happy baby!
Eva trained until 7 months, this will not be the same for every woman as everyone’s situation is different, but it’s important to know what is possible. You see at the end of the video their beautiful baby was delivered nice and healthy with no complications in the pregnancy whatsoever!
How You Can Still Improve During Pregnancy!
Don’t use being pregnant as an excuse not to improve because you may be limited to these 3 positions, but double down on what you CAN do and you will be surprised how much better you will be on the mats after your successful pregnancy!
Rener Gracie mentions in the video how when he was injured for 10 months he returned better than he was before! How is this possible?
You don’t need to spar to improve your BJJ game, not being able to spar because of injuries or pregnancy allows you to LOOK at people in your gym sparring. You will see how they employ their bread and butter techniques and what works and what doesn’t.
Eva Torres when sparring happened sat down and whipped out her notebook and noted down all the techniques she learned during that day. I recommend you do the same and you will be surprised how quickly you learn!
8 Helpful Tips On Training BJJ While Pregnant
Now that I’ve discussed Eva’s story, here are the tips from a BJJ blue belt in her blog Girls In Gis, which you can access here.
1.Have a Drilling Partner With Good Body Control
It is very important to find a drilling partner you trust and only drill with them throughout your pregnancy. This stops you from reminding every new partner that you’re pregnant, and what moves they can and cannot do depending on how far along you are.
A good rule is to generally stick to higher belts, but Rener Gracie says that some purple belts don’t have control of their body, so make sure they have excellent body control. If you’re unsure, ask your instructor which person they recommend you roll with.
2.Ensure Your Techniques Are Safe For Pregnant Women
The typical BJJ warmup will involve inversions and forward rolls, and backward rolls. These are NOT safe for pregnant women to perform, so really make sure to pay extra attention to only do safe moves for you and the baby.
Think of the alternatives and what you can and cannot do. Shrimps are usually fine, but first talk to your Physician. Bring them a list of exercises you would like to do so that he/she can inform you on what is safe and what is not.
3.Drink A Lot Of Water And Keep Cool
Elizabeth (the blog writer) says she always brings a full bottle of an electrolyte-rich sports drink like Gatorade/Powerade with another bottle of water for training. Read this article here on why it’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy
If your body temperature goes above 102°F (38.9°C) for more than 10 minutes, this can cause problems with your baby. Be sure you stay cool by being closer to a door or window, and take numerous breaks to cool off during drilling.
You might feel weird about being the only person doing this but remember, you’re carrying another person inside of you!
4.Only Flow Roll During Pregnancy
Flow rolling is not using any strength and just focusing on going with the flow, be careful who you roll with and in my opinion, only roll with people with good technique.
Tap SUPER early, as certain submissions can restrict blood flood and your bones do get weaker during pregnancy (read here) so don’t risk injury by not tapping. Remember you’re caring for two now, and your new baby doesn’t want his mommy to get injured!
5.Wear Gear One Size Up
At around 14 weeks Elizabeth used her husband’s size up belt for her Gi and used a Gi with more room to make space for the baby. You can wear a rash guard one size up as well, this is what Elizabeth did.
Investing in a sports bra one size up will make you way more comfortable during your training. You can purchase the fantastic Champion Sports Bra for an amazing price on Amazon here.
6.Give Yourself Some Slack As You’re Pregnant!
Being pregnant will put you on a rollercoaster of emotions as your hormones change. It is like an internal battle as you struggle to adapt to a new lifestyle while sometimes the desire of wanting to go (or not go) to class will rage on inside of you.
You may feel awkward asking upper belts to roll as maybe they want to get a normal hard roll and not a flow-roll with your pregnant self. Feeling this self-doubt is perfectly normal.
7.Your Progress Can Be Delayed
Now we have spoken about how you can even improve after an extended lay-off such as an injury or pregnancy. Life does get in the way and you will lose progress especially if during these times you’re not taking notes after class or watching sparring videos in your spare time.
Just remember that BJJ will still always be there, but your baby should be your number one priority.
8.Makes Sure You Stay Positive!
I understand how difficult it must be for a woman to take a backseat and feel more tired with muscle loss and not be able to move as once you did, but Elizabeth stresses to keep a smile on your face and stay positive.
Remember as a pregnant woman you are experiencing something that NO ONE else in the gym is (unless you’re not the only pregnant lady haha).
You will notice some women will admire you for still training on the mats and others will complain about being tired, but then get an extra kick of energy when they see you’re training.
Embrace this! You are an inspiration to others!
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