Did The CrossFit Mom Really Endanger Her Baby?

Image via Big Titan /Flickr
Image via Big Flickr/Big Titan

 

By now, you've probably heard about the crazy CrossFit mom who was photographed lifting extreme weights while 8 months pregnant. 

When CrossFit posted this picture on their Facebook page, a virtual firestorm of comments erupted, some negative, some positive which we covered when the story broke in our Buzzworthy Bulletins

The mom in the picture, Lea-Ann Ellison, captioned her thoughts next to the picture, saying: 

“8 months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity. I have been CrossFitting for 2 1/2 years and I strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body's capabilities to kick ass.”

 I strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body's capabilities to kick ass. – Lee-Ann Ellison

Looking at this scenario from the perspective of a Labor and Delivery Nurse in an effort to answer the big question of “was she actually endangering her baby,” I had to do a little digging myself into discovering just exactly what CrossFit is

According to their website

“CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters…”

Ok, so that sounds pretty intense, and yet also…not?

CrossFit's blog goes on to express how each workout is individually tailored to help every client reach his or her full athletic potential, which all sounds fine and dandy until you consider the darker side of CrossFit's intense regimen, as covered in The New York Times. Apparently, CrossFit is known for almost boasting about the danger of its workouts (its founder, in one interview says, “It can kill you, I've always been honest about that.”), which poses the very real concern if the so-called “CrossFit Mom” was actually in danger of harming her baby. 

As a labor and delivery nurse, when I saw the picture, my immediate thought was that lifting that amount of weight, combined with the deep squatting could either 1) strain the muscles supporting her uterus or 2) cause contractions or put extra pressure, risking her water breaking. 

CrossFit coach and childbirth educator Kat Grosshaupt had the best answer I found — not only does Kat coach pregnant women in CrossFit classes all the time, she also then turns around to attend their births (oh, yeah, she's also a doula), so she has firsthand experience on this topic.

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Kat said, “The main point I want to get across is that women are smart and intuitive… Are there women who take it too far? Most likely. Are there women who do CrossFit throughout their pregnancy? Definitely. There have been multiple moms at our gym who worked out the day of delivery. One even worked out the morning of her delivery with her OB in the same class!”

As a labor and delivery nurse, when I saw the picture, my immediate thought was that lifting that amount of weight, combined with the deep squatting could either 1) strain the muscles supporting her uterus or 2) cause contractions or put extra pressure, risking her water breaking. But honestly, we need to remember that this woman was this fit before she got pregnant. Although it looks like a tremendous amount to us non-CrossFitters, she probably is scaling back her routine.

And according to the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, there is no clear definition of what is “too much” when it comes to physical activity; even strenuous, repeated physical exercises have no clear link to negative outcomes for the baby. Basically, women can engage in the same types of activities they did before they got pregnant, as long as there are no major complications with them or the baby. 

So it looks like we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the little CrossFit baby might be just fine after all. 

What are your thoughts about the Crossfit Mom? Did you workout or know someone who maintained the same rigorous workout through their entire pregnancy?

What do you think?

Did The CrossFit Mom Really Endanger Her Baby?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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