Recent Pregnancy and Exercise Controversy
|September 23, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under News and Research|
Happy fall! Are you as excited about autumn as I am? I’m not the biggest fan of DC summers (that’s an understatement) so I’m always excited when fall finally arrives.
So last week a pregnant woman caused quite a stir by posting pictures of herself on facebook doing Crossfit and lifting 75 pounds. The tagline read: “Eight months pregnant with baby number three and CrossFit has been my sanity. I have been CrossFitting for 2 ½ years and strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish your body’s capabilities to kick ass.” Apparently the post generated 16,000 comments in response, some positive but many negative.
Despite the well-documented benefits and safety of exercise during pregnancy, there are still many that adhere to the archaic notion that exercise is bad for the baby. While the medical profession has made significant progress in accepting and actually recommending exercise during pregnancy, the comments generated by the post indicate that there are still a lot of people that don’t accept modern science. Lea-Ann Ellison, the woman at the center of this controversy, has thick skin and brushed off the criticism by saying, “Haters will hate and it’s ok. My life is not their life thank goodness.” Good for her for being able to brush off the criticism, but she really shouldn’t have to. The public needs to be better educated about the fact that exercise is good for pregnancy. My concern is that many women cut back or even avoid exercise for fear of being criticized by others. These women not only miss out on the health benefits for themselves but also on the benefits for their babies.
One thing I read in a CNN article on the subject that really bothered me was an interview with a doctor who says that pregnant women should not lift more than 15 pounds. Here’s an excerpt of what he said:
Seriously? Pregnant women should not lift more than 15 pounds? I have a specialization in prenatal fitness and have done extensive reading on the subject, and I have NEVER seen that guideline anywhere. It seems to me that the human race would not have survived if pregnant women were that delicate. Also, how would a woman ever care for more than one child? She would never be able to lift up her other children while she was pregnant if she stuck to the 15-pound rule. It is surprising to me that an educated medical professional came out and said this. Furthermore, the claim that women who lift weights are diverting blood flow from the baby doesn’t make sense either considering the body has 50% more blood volume during pregnancy so there is plenty for the baby and the exercising mother.
Now I agree that strength training is not for every pregnant women, especially those who have never lifted weights prior to pregnancy or are experiencing high-risk pregnancies. But for women like Lea-Ann Ellison who have been weight lifting for years and who are having uncomplicated pregnancies, there is no reason to stop. Strong muscles are very beneficial during pregnancy in that they help to compensate for posture adjustments and weight gain, and they prepare women for lifting and caring for her baby. As long as a woman listens to her body and gets the approval of her obstetrician, then she can safely continue strength training during pregnancy. I think it is great that this issue made headline news so that more people can become educated about how safe and important physical activity is during pregnancy.