Los Angeles mom Lea-Ann Ellison has been an avid CrossFit fan for two years, so it was only natural that she'd keep up with the routine during her third pregnancy. The eight-months-pregnant Ellison even had a CrossFit-themed maternity shoot and sent one of the weightlifting pictures to the company.
"8 months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity," she wrote to the company. "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."
The company was impressed with her dedication and posted her photos on its Facebook page.
And then the backlash started.
"This is why CrossFit is horrible. No one knows what they're doing. This is a good way to lose your baby," Evan Kennedy, a physical therapist, posted.
"I do not find this impressive at all. No one would post a picture of themselves drinking a beer while eight months pregnant. Risky behavior while pregnant is no laughing matter," another wrote.
She had plenty of supporters, though.
"Safe? Absolutely! A fit mama makes for a better pregnancy and delivery for both mama and baby! You go mama!" Jennifer Mosier Weaver wrote in support of Ellison.
"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," added Charles Bailey. "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."
Ellison told Yahoo! Shine that she was surprised at the reaction to her photo.
"I was really shocked by the reaction to my photos since I've always exercised during my two previous pregnancies and doctors have assured me that my routine is safe for both myself and my child," Ellison said, adding that people called her "vain" and "selfish" for continuing her workout routine.
CrossFit is a notoriously difficult workout for even the most in-shape exercisers. It seems like it might be too intense for a very pregnant mother — and it is, if she hasn't already been working out before pregnancy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like walking, a week.
However, the CDC says that healthy women like Ellison who already do vigorous exercise — like CrossFit — can continue to do it "provided they stay healthy and discuss with their health care provider how and when activity should be adjusted over time."
For most women, some aerobic exercise, core work and light weightlifting is plenty.
"I love seeing moms do upright exercise during pregnancy, so walking or taking aerobic fitness classes are at the top of my list," Malik Turley, Owner of Hip Circle Studio in Evanston, Illinois, told AllParenting.
She added, "I also encourage moms to do strength training — including core work — during pregnancy, as those muscles will come in very handy during labor and, even more so, during the postpartum period. Finally, the movements taught and used in belly dance are perfectly suited to get moms ready for the labor process, so I suggest adding a belly dance class into the mix."
As for Ellison, she has modified her exercise with her pregnancy in mind.
"I did lift weights for my maternity photo shoot but only 35 pounds," she told Yahoo! Shine. "The most I've lifted while pregnant is 65."
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