Fitness & Exercise
When It Comes to Exercise, How Much is Too Much When You Are Pregnant?
When a 35-year-old former body builder Lea-Ann Ellison recently posted a picture of herself lifting weights on Facebook's CrossFit's page, it created a firestorm of comments.
In the photo, she's 8 months pregnant.
She wrote, "8 months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity. I have been CrossFitting for 2 1/2 years and strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body's capabilities to kick ass."
My first reaction was, "holy crap, I'm lazy. If this super-pregnant woman is kicking ass with CrossFitting, why can't I get up the energy to work out?" I did somehow summon the strength to Google "CrossFit" because I wasn't even familiar with this fitness program. It's some kind of intense exercise regime with jumps and weights and you apparently compete with other participants and people love it.
I do understand where Lea-Ann Ellison is coming from. As someone who has been pregnant four times, I was constantly irritated by everyone who wanted me to sit down and relax. Because it's actually much healthier to get up and do something.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), exercising 30 minutes daily can benefit your health during pregnancy. It helps reduce symptoms like backaches and swelling, prevents and treats gestational diabetes, increases your energy, aids in sleeping and may improve your ability to cope with labor.
You don't get all that sitting on the couch eating chips.
During my last pregnancy, I played a lot of tennis, right up to 38 weeks. And there were a lot of folks who judged me. Comments like, “Wow. You’re playing tennis?! My doctor told me it was not a good idea to play tennis because you could easily fall” were common.
Yes, I'm sure you could argue that tennis posed some sort of risk. I could have fallen but I was careful. Plus, I could have tripped coming down the stairs each morning while hopping over kids' toys. Life is dangerous. No matter what you are doing.
Given my own experience, I don't want to judge another pregnant woman. Does it seem a little ambitious for an 8 month pregnant woman to be lifting weights? Well, yes. But I don't know how much she's lifting. Doctors say lifting weights over 15 pounds can be harmful to the mom and baby. Apparently it diverts blood flow from internal organs to the muscles, which deprives the baby temporarily of oxygen. It can also put you at risk for early labor.
But I really have to trust the pregnant mama on this. She was already a big fitness buff before she became pregnant which means she can handle more than your average pregnant woman. She probably reduced her weights and scaled back her workout to accommodate her pregnancy. And I'm betting she has a doctor who approved of this. Keep in mind that this was not a photo of her chugging Red Bulls, smoking cigarettes or snorting cocaine. She was exercising.
Most of us moms do everything we can to protect our children and I have to trust Ellison is also making the best decisions for herself and her baby.