Muay Thai is a very intense combat sport full of explosive movements, but can you do it when you’re pregnant? I decided to find out.
You can train Muay Thai whilst pregnant but your training must be modified for safety and be approved by a qualified physician. Bag work and non-freestyle pad work and shadowboxing should be fine but avoid sparring or clinching to protect the midsection.
Anything that involves getting hit to the midsection needs to be removed completely, which includes sparring and clinch work. l explain in detail how you can train safely whilst pregnant in Muay Thai and any other pregnant training questions you might have.
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Training Muay Thai Whilst Pregaunt First Things To Do
The first thing you should do is talk to your doctors, as they are the medical experts and can give you expert recommendations on what is safe and not safe.
Secondly, talk with your instructors at the gym who will have their own experience with pregnant students and they know your martial arts experience and what you can and cannot do during this time.
Lastly, it might be expensive but seeing a fitness professional who has a good understanding of pre-natal training is a good idea, as this hidden insight is very useful for you to create the most effective and safest training program you can make for you and the baby.
Although, doing some research on what martial artists say about the topic is useful. Sander Nagtegaal a Kung Fu teacher who does MMA mentions what you can and cannot do as a pregnant woman doing martial arts which you see in his article here.
He doesn’t recommend full-contact sparring or anything that requires your body to absorb a lot of shocks, like jumping or hitting the heavy bag or high-intensity training that pushes your heart rate up.
Wearing a heart rate monitor is a good idea to make sure you keep it below the danger zone when doing exercise whilst pregnant. Get a Fitbit that not only tracks your heart rate but also important things for pregnancy like your quality of sleep whilst also tracking your workouts. Get it for a fantastic price from Amazon right here.
While pregnant your body releases a hormone called Relaxin which loosens your ligaments(read more on your hormones here) so Nagtegaal urges caution on passive stretching as this increased range of motion could lead to injury if you’re not careful!
Nagtegaal suggests non-contact sparring, cross-training, and reflex training but you can add shadow boxing and pad work with a qualified instructor to that list.
Of course, being pregnant isn’t the best time to work on your sparring skills and perform in competition but you can still work on your techniques and improve your form.
It’s a good opportunity to work on your cardio, as running cycling and swimming are all fine to do according to this article about pregnancy exercises.
Why You Can Train Muay Thai Whilst Pregnant
What better way to learn how to practice martial arts whilst pregnant than to do what others have done before you? Laure Baudot a Karate black belt detailed her own experience as a martial artist on how she trained through pregnancy, which you can read in full here.
She first details if your pregnant don’t train Muay Thai if you’ve never done it before. This makes sense as Muay Thai is a very explosive sport and you need to understand your body if you train whilst pregnant to protect the baby.
She stresses the importance of reaching out to other women who have trained Muay Thai whilst pregnant. She asked other people in her dojo and they gave varying answers, but you must decide for yourself if you feel right to train.
If you don’t know anyone who does Muay Thai whilst pregnant let me introduce you to Caley Reece a 4-time Muay Thai world champion who still did high-intensity Muay Thai training session at 39 weeks pregnant! You can see her training pads in the video below.
She said the following when referring to critics on the harm she could give her unborn baby. Notably, she mentions there is no freestyle pad holding to remove any risk of her baby being hit or something unforeseen happening.
I don’t have to give up. It simply means I make do with what I have. There is no freestyle pad holding, Daz is calling every single thing so we both know exactly what is happening at all times.Caley Reece
Now back to Laure Baudot she says don’t worry about breathing loudly when practicing drills, as remember you’re carrying a little person inside of you so of course, you will breathe harder! Don’t worry about this it’s normal.
Like Nagtegaa, Baudot recommends not to spar or do any interactive drills, as it isn’t fair for your baby or even someone who accidentally hits you and deals with the guilt and added responsibility of hitting a pregnant woman!
If you’re suddenly losing balance when you normally would not whenever you teep or check a kick then it’s because you have a little person growing inside of you! Again this is normal.
The added flexibility from your Relaxin hormone will make your kicks snap and head kicks much easier, but Baudot recommends not to overdo it as you can risk dislocating your joints and be injured whilst pregnant!
If you can’t decide to do Muay Thai is too risky then simply do another sport like swimming, which isn’t hard on your joints or body but is still a fantastic workout.
Lastly, she recommends training your mind which you can do via mediation(check out the main benefits here), and not to worry too much about training as after your beautiful baby is born you will be roundhousing people in the face in no time!
General Things You Should Know About Exercise & Pregnancy
Now a lot of this information is from Evolve MMAs blog about the topic and has been mentioned earlier in this post but read the post here for more details.
Everyone agrees not to start training anything new and if you’ve never exercised before: swimming, walking, and special prenatal Yoga are your best choices.
Remember to train smart and not hard and stay hydrated and pay very close attention to your body, whenever you feel weird and your body is telling you to stop exercise please listen to your body!
You should exercise only up to the point where you can carry a conversation as if you can’t because your out of breath you’re pushing yourself too hard and this is the same even if you’re not pregnant. This is why a Fitbit is such a good investment for keeping yourself in that ideal zone between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too hard.
The best advice is always to talk to the professionals in your life, whether that’s your training partners or anyone who’s done or is going through training Muay Thai or another martial art whilst pregnant.
Doing Muay Thai whilst pregnant is a very personal thing and every woman is going to have different experiences and answers to these questions. Whichever. you choose, make sure you listen to the advice in this article and I wish you all the best in your pregnant martial art journey!
How Do Women Return To Martial Arts/Sports After Pregnancy?
After pregnancy, many women put on baby weight and find it hard to lose this weight after they gave birth. How do athletes in general cope after they have a baby?
A good example is Michelle Waterson a UFC fighter who got gestational diabetes and hypothyroid due to pregnancy and went on to get a fantastic win less than a year later!
Also Cindy Dandois a professional MMA fighter who won a fight against Gina Carona(see here)whilst 2 months pregnant and she didn’t even know about her baby until after the fight!
This post-pregnancy success doesn’t just apply to fighters as Lauren Fleshman a track a field runner started training seriously just 3 weeks after giving birth! Take a look at her amazing transformation baby photos in her blog here
Yes, all these women are athletes but I urge you to use their post-baby success as confidence that you TOO can quickly return to training after having a baby.
Now you don’t have to come quickly as Fleshman but if you take it slow you should be back Sparring within 4 months after having a baby. But really, it’s up to you as everyone’s bodies are different. Just return to Muay Thai when you feel comfortable and in no time it will be like you never left!