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Pregnancy and Aerial Training, Is It Safe?

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If you follow us on social media (we hang out primarily on Instagram and Facebook) you will have likely seen that last week Rachel announced she was 32 weeks pregnant.

Rachel had been keeping her pregnancy on the ‘down low’ (at least outside of her close friends and family), not because she was ashamed or unhappy about her new ‘Mom-to-be’ status but because, particularly in the early stages, she felt surprisingly vulnerable and was unsure how to navigate the unfamiliar waters of being a ‘pregnant aerialist.’ 

In the months prior to becoming pregnant Rachel had noticed numerous negative comments and a plethora of unsolicited advice when aerial friends/colleagues or students posted any kind of training aerial-while-pregnantvideos or pics. Instead of being supportive and encouraging there seemed to be a lot of ‘be careful!’ And ‘thats dangerous!’ comments from other aerialists and ‘normies’ a like. Although you may argue that these ‘friends’ were simply concerned for the mother-to-be and babies health, these kinds of comments can cause a serious blow to an aerial mama’s confidence.

If you have been training aerial consistently pre-pregnancy, just like with running, dance and other work outs, most medical professionals believe it is absolutely fine to continue to do so while pregnant (unless you have medical complications).

After showing her Doctor videos of her Aerial Silks act (complete with a Triple Star as a finale trick) Rachel was advised that she could continue performing this act up until 14 weeks pregnant which was when the baby would begin to emerge from behind the pubic bone which provides solid impact protection during the first trimester. After this time she would need to modify certain tricks (taking out Wheeldowns and belly wraps) which she did, and continued to perform modified aerial acts until she was 17 weeks pregnant.

Now at 33 weeks pregnant Rachel has cut waaaay back on her aerial training (her belly has started getting in the way!) but is thrilled to still be able to climb and perform basic Foot Lock combinations, Hip-Keys and climbs when she’s not propped up on the couch watching Netflix and eating Almond Butter out of the jar…

As many of you know, pregnancy can be tough, what with morning sickness (that comes on any time, the name is a lie!), bloating, nausea, heartburn, reflux and the list goes on… And many pregnant aerialists may not want to continue training, teaching or performing aerial. For those of you that do though, do your research, talk to your doctor and don’t be afraid to utilize that ‘delete comment’ button on your Insta account, it’s there for good reason!

4 Tips to Safely Train Aerial While Pregnant
(For experienced aerialists) 

1. Always Use a Crash Mat

Whether pregnant or not, we ALWAYS recommend using a thick crash mat when training, for obvious reasons. When you are pregnant it is even more important to do so as your body will likely feel different (heavier) and your center of gravity will have shifted, particularly after the fourth month, making you feel less connected and in control. During pregnancy your body also releases a hormone called Relaxin, designed to relax and loosen the ligaments of the pelvis, this can mean your joints become hyper flexible (sweet!) but can also increase the risk of injury (dang!), just another reason to take as many precautions as possible in the air.

2. Stay Low to the Ground

Unless you are rehearsing for a performance, there is no need to train combinations at height. You can still work on maintaining your strength, fluidity and finesse just a few feet of the mat. If you must go higher, be sure to stay extremely focused and connected with your body and your (growing) core.

3. Modify

Once you have passed the first trimester (thank goodness!) you may start to feel better but you are likely starting to ‘show’ which means baby is rising out of the protective shell of the pubic bone. Talk to your medical professional and if he/she gives you the OK to continue training you may want to think about the following modifications.

Inverts:

There are different opinions about abdominal training during pregnancy (some experts say planks are OK, some don’t, most say ab exercises lying on your back are a no go). Do your own research and listen to your body but Rachel continued to invert without problems through her second trimester, cutting down on the number of reps while conditioning and cutting out Meat Hooks all together since they didn’t feel good.

Drops:

Again, talk to your medical professional (videos are a helpful tool) but certain drops that don’t involve wrapping the stomach andthat are not new for youmay be safe to continue training after the first trimester of pregnancy. Rachel found that using a ‘medium stretch’ silk helped make certain drops more comfortable although she cut out any thing more impactful then an Ankle Hang after around 20 weeks.  

4. Be Gentle on Yourself! 

For most women, pregnancy comes with a whole lot of changes. From physical weight gain and feeling like your body is no longer your own to hormonal/emotional and mental challenges. It is important to remember though that your body is creating life! This time will pass quickly (so we have heard!) and In the blink of an eye you will be cuddling your newborn and then (when you are ready) back to aerial training; dropping, weaving, wheeling and dancing with your aerial tribe!

You absolutely CAN continue to train aerial while pregnant (if you have prior aerial experience, use pregnancy safe modifications AND get your medical professionals approval of course) and the benefits to you staying fit and healthy during this time are numerous to both your body and to baby. However, if you decide to let go of the silks for a little while that is completely OK too! Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different so give yourself grace and embrace your own personal journey.

Whether you are currently pregnant or considering becoming so in the future, there are a number of great resources currently available for pregnancy curious or soon-to-be Aerial Mama’s such as the FB group ‘Aerial Mama’s Safety and Support’  as well as books such as ‘Flying through Pregnancy’ by Kate Edwards and ‘An Aerialists guide to surviving pregnancy’ by Rebekah Leach. 

Have a wonderful rest of your week

All our best,

             Brett and Rachel 

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