Christina Litle, a 28-year-old photographer from Napa with her third baby on the way, says she has been dancing since age 5 — which was why she was so surprised to receive a negative reaction to her cute pregnancy dancing video. Instead of celebrating a badass mom who can still shake it with an almost fully cooked baby in her belly, the pregnancy police came out in full force after seeing Litle's high-intensity, third-trimester dance.
Her crime, besides having rhythm anyone would kill for? Litle has been accused of endangering her unborn baby. From worry about the possibility of her falling to those who say she could cause shaken baby syndrome with her bootylicious moves, the accusations have flown.
We can only assume all the judgy fingers pointing at Litle are wagging in jealousy, because for an uncomplicated pregnancy, regular exercise isn't just allowed, it's encouraged, and Litle shouldn't have to defend herself. In this day and age, where almost anything you do can harm your precious unborn child, we forget that a woman's body is resilient.
Out of everything a pregnant woman is told to stay away from during those nine long months (and the list keeps getting longer every day), exercise isn't one of them. The basic rule of thumb that almost any doctor will tell you when it comes to exercise during pregnancy is this: If you did it comfortably before baby, then within reason, you can do it comfortably after baby. This means that while you may have to put high-impact sports like snowboarding on the shelf while growing a baby, you can and should dance like a maniac if you were a maniac on the dance floor before getting pregnant.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' official statement on exercise during pregnancy backs this logic: Pregnant women who are in good health and under the care of a doctor should continue to "participate in a wide range of recreational activities," as long as they're evaluated for safety first. Thirty minutes or more of moderate exercise on most or all days of the week is the recommendation for all pregnant women.
This confirms what most women with a good head on their shoulders have long suspected. All the active and extra-active pregnant women we see, like the many pregnant marathon runners, competitive pregnant swimmers and pregnant athletes, should be celebrated and not criticized. Litle is correct in saying that exercise during pregnancy can help to make labor more comfortable. The most recent research from the Netherlands sheds more light on staying active and maintaining a healthy weight during and after pregnancy — pregnancy weight gain has been tied to an increased risk of childhood obesity, and now a mother's postpartum weight gain is considered an influencing factor too.
Telling pregnant women they're fragile isn't just antiquated and annoying — it's insulting, and it can also be dangerous to a mother's health. Contrary to what the Internet peanut gallery has to say, a fit pregnant woman who wants to shake it on camera is a positive role model for pregnant women everywhere.
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