Pregnant faux-pas? Mother-to-be posts photo of her CrossFit workout

Globe & Mail update (includes correction)

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A photograph of a very pregnant women hoisting heavy weights has stirred up a social-media firestorm.

Los Angeles mother-of-two Lea-Ann Ellison, 35, was two weeks away from her slated birth date when she posted a photo of her lifting what appears to be a very heavy barbell on her Facebook page.

Ellison’s picture included the comment: “8 months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity. 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.”

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Ellison’s workout routine is based on the popular CrossFit regimen, the standard conditioning program for professional athletes, police departments and military academies across North America.

But instead of inspiring others to get fit, Ellison’s picture immediately generated a flood of negative Facebook feedback, with many people questioning whether heavy weightlifting is advised for someone close to giving birth.

Facebook user Evan Kennedy wrote, “This is a good way to lose your baby.”

There was even more damning critique from Amanda Cinq-Mars: “This is actually sickening…I am a CrossFit enthusiast but I DO NOT recommend this at all. Doctors always strongly suggest to not lift heavy because you can sever your placenta and cause major damage in early labor and miscarriage .... Posting this picture gives people the wrong message that this is OKAY when it’s not!!!!”

Other Facebook users, meanwhile, defended Ellison’s decision to hoist heavy weights.

Wrote Charles Bailey: “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. 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.”

And this vote of support from Charlotte Schwartz: “You can do anything while pregnant that your body is accustomed to doing, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.”

For the record, the National Health Service advises that women should exercise during pregnancy since it enables them to cope with labour and get back in shape post-birth.

Weightlifting, however, is nowhere to be found on the NHS list of recommended workouts for pregnant women, which suggests expectant mothers avoid such strenuous activities as skiing, horseback riding and scuba-diving.

To her credit, Ellison was undeterred by the controversy and went back on Facebook to post the comment: “I want to thank everyone for their kind and supportive responses! Haters will hate and it’s ok. My life is not their life thank goodness!”

You go, girl.

Editor's note: The NHS recommends pregnant women avoid  skiing, horseback riding and scuba-diving. An earlier version of this story offered incorrect information; this version has been updated and corrected.

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