Having never been a mother myself, I have always been fascinated by the different stages of childbearing on a woman’s body. Admittedly, though, the mere thought of me being pregnant one day is absolutely terrifying because the concept is foreign to anything I can ever imagine feeling. When anyone asks me if I want to feel their baby kick, I become hesitant. In some crazy corner of my mind, I feel like I could hurt the child. While I know that is very far from the truth, I can’t help but think of soon-to-be moms as porcelain dolls that need to be protected and handled with care.
Imagine my reaction to news on my Facebook feed recently of a pregnant woman squatting while lifting weights over her head—successful use click-bait for sure! I passed it off as something sensationalist until a few weeks later, when I saw a similar story (and then another and another). I couldn’t help but wonder how this trend came to be or if it has always existed and if it’s even safe.
According to BabyCenter.com and fitness expert Tracey Mallett, moms can safely lift weights as maintenance of current muscle mass but not with a goal to gain or increase strength. Exercising programs like CrossFit can be more challenging than that, though. Participants are typically looking to accomplish a certain physical contingency and often compete to out-do themselves. WODs (Work Out of the Day) can also include extreme cardio activities and jumping routines which have caused controversy on many pregnancy forums scattered throughout the Internet about claims of potential miscarriages (which remain unproven).
The media’s overall coverage on this this topic, has been fair—not glorifying or discouraging. Still, like many other health topics, the exposure of a few people engaging in this behavior might actually start a real trend. As a content strategist, I always feel compelled to counter viral information (which is sometimes misleading), especially on social sites where the information is being shared. To be timely, I typically channel an expert or look to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services for help. In this instance, information on the causes of miscarriages and exercising safely has proven to be a good balance.
As for the real answer on whether extreme exercise during pregnancy is safe, we can only imply to our audience that it isn’t because it is atypical to regular fitness routines. Doing so is not only our responsibility, but a legal risk we assume as the voice of reason.