If you bothered to read the backlash occurring through social media and some loosely termed news outlets, you might think so. Why is the general reaction to something unlike ourselves so emotionally charged? Is there really that level of concern for the developing fetus of Lea-Ann Ellison, or is it really arising from a mass insecurity that snarls when convenient truths are challenged?
The two key factors in maintaining a safe pregnancy exercise regimen is to discuss it with a doctor throughout the different stages of a woman's progressing pregnancy and to design a program based on her fitness levels prior to pregnancy.
A woman's obstetrician should be well informed of her exercise activity prior to pregnancy, her plans for continuing through each stage and honest accurate assessments of how she feels when she exercises. Pregnancy is not a time to stick it out when something feels uncomfortable because a pregnant woman has a significant physical change occurring and a life depends on her choices. The reason that it is important that a woman's doctor is well informed of her exercise routine is not because exercise is bad for a pregnant woman, but so that the doctor can have all of the pieces to the puzzle when focusing on the overall health and well being of the patient.
In addition to a doctor's supervision, which most can agree is important for all aspects of a healthy pregnancy and has nothing to do with labeling exercise as a high risk activity, a woman should be matching her pregnancy routine closely to her fitness levels prior to pregnancy, with certain adaptations as needed. Pregnancy is not a time to adopt a new rigorous workout routine never attempted before, because a woman's body might then react unpredictably to that stress.
Adaptions to an exercise routine which might be recommended by the woman's doctor or might simply feel more comfortable for the woman as she progresses through her pregnancy include modifications for balance and joint stability. As a woman's abdomen expands to accommodate her pregnancy, her center of gravity shifts forward and this can leave some women feeling a bit off balance due to how rapidly this occurs. That difference in balance might mean that she should take extra precautions to avoid falling injuries and that she should practice careful self awareness as her body changes.
Additionally, during pregnancy several chemical adaptations occur, including the release of a hormone called relaxin, which loosens some of the supportive tissues that stabilize joints in order to accommodate the body changes. That loosening is an important factor in preparing for birth, but may contribute to a slightly higher risk for use injuries. Accommodation for this might include using slightly lower weights for resistance exercises to go easier on the joints, but will depend highly on the woman's assessment of how she feels when she exercises.
There are significant exceptions to the fact that exercise is good for pregnancies which again reiterates the importance of deciding on an exercise routine with a personal doctor's visit and not based on information gathered on the internet or through friends. Each woman will be different and only with a full perspective and a doctor's assessment can a woman know that the advice she is receiving is meant for her. Some factors that are known to affect the safety of exercise during pregnancy are multiple births (twins or greater), advanced maternal age and certain physical conditions and diseases unrelated to pregnancy.
That being said, the backlash against Lea-Ann Ellison, the cross fitting bodybuilding pregnant woman, is completely outrageous. When her story is reviewed, it is too easy to compare her fitness level to the audience's and that is why the audience reacts negatively. They think that what she is doing is so different that their own actions, it must be wrong.
Actually, pregnancy is not a disease. For the most part, healthy pregnancies require physical activity. Someone who is used to regular exercise who goes on bed rest the moment that they find out that they are expecting because of a societal view that their condition is delicate without any medical evidence or doctor's advice supporting this idea would be damaging their health and giving herself a riskier labor and delivery.
The cross fit body building mom under fire had a fitness level which was well above the average person before she was pregnant and her activity level during pregnancy matched that. She had proper prenatal care throughout her pregnancy and was well prepared for the rigors of labor and delivery by being highly tuned in cardiovascular fitness and strength.
Living in a society where it is viewed as extreme that a woman would exercise during pregnancy and not extreme that a morbidly obese woman would require a seriously invasive surgery to give birth is the archaic mindset holding women back from taking charge of their prenatal and everyday health.