35-year-old Lea-Ann Ellison, from Los Angeles, has managed to start an online storm after a photo showing the eight-and-a-half-month pregnant woman lifting what seem like heavy weights was posted on Facebook.
Heavily pregnant Lea-Ann Ellison doesn’t believe in taking it easy ahead of the big day. Instead she is following an intense fitness regime designed for professional athletes and members of the police and military. “I have been CrossFitting for 2½ years,” the woman posted on Facebook. “and … strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body’s capabilities to kick ass.” The photo of her preparing to lift a weight bar this far into her pregnancy prompted a series of comments, both positive and negative. Some Facebook users accused Lea-Ann of risking her baby’s well-being just to stay in shape and described the photo as “shocking”, while others showed their admiration for the weightlifter’s decision, calling her “amazing” and “an inspiration”. One person wrote: “I think that we should all be more concerned about a mom who eats McDonalds everyday of her pregnancy, and doesn’t exercise one bit. This woman is not just concerned about herself, she is concerned about her child future and the example she sets for her other children about overcoming adversity.”
Generally, doctors advise women to exercise during pregnancy as it helps them better cope with labor and get back into shape after giving birth, but while weightlifting isn’t on the list of forbidden physical activities, it is recommended that mothers-to-be slow down as pregnancy progresses. Dr. Raul Artal, chairman of St. Louis University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics believes lifting weights over 15 pounds can put both the mother and baby at risk. He compares lifting heavy weights to stepping on the umbilical cord for 20 or 30 seconds, or however long you are exerting yourself, because you divert blood flow from internal organs, including the uterus, to your muscles, which can deprive the baby of oxygen. Other experts believe that moderate exercise can actually do a lot of good, and that what “moderate” means varies from person to person, depending on how active they were before their pregnancy. Lea-Ann Ellison has been doing CrossFitt constantly for over two years, and says she has modified the exercises as not to put her pregnancy at risk. “Nobody in their right mind is going to put their unborn child in danger, that’s just pure insanity,” she told HLN News.
Despite all the criticism, Lea-Ann has apparently made her choice. “I want to thank everyone for their kind and supportive responses! Haters will hate and it’s ok. My life is not their life thank goodness!” she posted on Facebook.
Photos © Nick Stern