Muscle Can Be Controversial


” I have been CrossFitting for two and a half years and … strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body’s capabilities to kick ass.” -Lea-Ann Ellison

The latest controversy seems to be women being extremely active throughout their pregnancies. Many people believe pregnancy is a delicate time for a woman and her baby. During this gestational period, her body is going through many physical and hormonal changes as the baby grows. Relaxation and taking it easy, so as not to endanger the fetus, have been the understood code among moms-to-be for centuries; however, a new breed of mom is emerging, one that believes pregnancy is not a “temporary handicap, illness, or sentence to sedentary life for 9 months or more.” These moms are staying just as active as they were prior to becoming pregnant, with slight modifications as their bellies grow, and they are receiving a lot of backlash and negative feedback for it.

So the questions posed are, how much is too much? What can a woman do to stay active during pregnancy and what should she avoid? According to the Mayo Clinic, a woman should avoid certain physical activities such as scuba diving, physical contact sports and anything causing her to lie flat on her back; however, if the woman is in good physical condition, exercise is deemed safe and good for both mother and baby. Dr. Brittany Stofko, DO of Penn Medicine states, “Every woman and every pregnancy is different, but those who exercised before pregnancy are usually able to continue working out at the same level,” (during). Both US Track and Field athlete and Olympian Alysia Montano and mother of 3 and Crossfitter Lea-Ann Ellison are evidence to the truth of Dr. Stofko’s words.

On June 26th 2014, Alysia Montano shocked the nation and made world news after running the 800 meter race in the US Track and Field Championships. Finishing 35 seconds short of her best time, her goal was to dispel the misconceptions that many people have about running during pregnancy. She said, “What I found out mostly was that exercising during pregnancy is actually much better for the mom and the baby…I did all the things I normally do…I just happened to be pregnant. This is my normal this year.” Even though Montano was given full clearance to run by her doctor, the general public still questioned the safety of running in a competitive tournament during her third trimester.

Alysia Montano runs 800 m race June 26th 2014 at US Track and Field Championships

Another mom-to-be, also in her 8th month of pregnancy, Lea-Ann Ellison, posted a photo of herself performing an overhead press squat two-weeks shy of delivery. Prior to becoming pregnant with her third child, she had been doing Crossfit for two and a half years, but the backlash she experienced was a whirlwind of negativity. Within two hours of the photo being posted, over 450 people, who had never met Ellison and didn’t know her physical condition, felt compelled to weigh in and attack not only her choice of exercise during pregnancy, but also her overall mothering skills.

Lea-Ann Ellison at eight months pregnant performing an overhead squat

Should a woman’s skills as a mother be questioned because she chooses to stay in the best shape she can during her pregnancy? For many women who are active, staying in shape increases self-esteem allowing them to feel better about themselves. Doesn’t part of being a good parent stem from one’s view of self? Doesn’t staying active give you energy and keep you fit so that you can play with your children and teach them the importance and value of good health? If these arguments are true, why should one ever question the parenting skills of an active woman, for only in taking the best care of herself, can she intern take full care of someone else.

MCBMI wants to hear from you, we want your thoughts on active moms-to-be.

  1. Should women continue to exercise during pregnancy if given the OK by their doctors? Why or why not?
  2. If doctors are reporting it is OK for women to train and do everything they did prior to becoming pregnant, as long as their health doesn’t change, and they are giving their patients clearance, why is the general population so up in arms about women who are making conscious choices to stay active during their pregnancies?
  3. Should a woman’s parenting skills be questioned because she stays active during her pregnancy?

Before answering these question, check out some of the benefits of an active pregnancy:

*It increases energy levels

*Helps you sleep better

*Improves mood and mood swings lowers risk of depression and anxiety

*Prepares you better for labor and delivery

*Decreases constipation, varicose veins, and backaches

*Helps lower the risk of preeclampsia and  gestational diabetes

*Lower chances of preterm delivery

*Speeds up postpartum recovery

*Healthier delivery and recovery for mom and baby

* Easier delivery (for some)

*Babies are born at a healthier weight

Share your thoughts in the comment box, answer one or all the questions.  If you are a mom-to-be that is active or you were active during your pregnancy, we want to hear from you as well. Tell us your experiences throughout the pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. Let us know if you believe you made the right choices for you and your baby.


  1. Such a great post. More women need to be informed about the benefits of working out while pregnant. Society has played such a huge part in pregnant woman thinking they Need to “eat for two” or sit on their behinds and do as little as possible during the 40 weeks of pregnancy and think It’s beneficial to themselves and the baby. Then act confused as to Why they’ve gained an obscene amount of weigh during pregnancy and more confused When it doesn’t mysteriously vanish after the baby is born. I gained 13 pounds during the 37 and a half weeks I was pregnant and had a healthy 5 pound 10 oz baby. I was very active before and during pregnancy. People constantly offered their unwanted opinion on my pregnancy and weigh gain because they didn’t understand it so instead of asking they offered criticism without a clear understanding of my lifestyle, body or genetics. In the end none of that mattered. I was healthy and so was my baby. But like I said this is a great post and more people should educate themselves on the importance of staying active not ONLY during pregnancy But in general. Thanks for this.

    • Thanks for the great response S. Denee! What kind of things did you do during your pregnancy? I do wish more women were aware, but do you think it would make that much difference. Obesity in this country is on the rise. Among women 82% of African American women, 77% of Hispanic women and 62% of Caucasian women are overweight or obese. Now I know all of those women have not had babies, so what is the excuse? The thing many doctors stress is that you need to be active before pregnancy if you want to be active during, women that are already active are not gonna fall off unless there is a medical reason. That is why this blog is so important because women need to know out side of it being medical there is no reason they should be sedentary.