Lifting while pregnant ... Lea-Ann Ellison in her Facebook cover profile. Photo: Nick Stern
It's the picture that has people thinking: should a heavily pregnant woman really be doing that?
Fitness fanatic and female bodybuilder Lea-Ann Ellison has caused a neo-natal storm after she posted photos of herself lifting heavy weights while CrossFit training on her gym's Facebook page.
Ellison, who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant and due to give birth to her third child in two weeks, believes her dedication to weight lifting poses no risk to her unborn baby.
Lea-Ann Ellison competing in her pre-baby days.
"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," she wrote.
But not everyone agrees with the 35-year-old Californian, as the photos have created controversy around the world.
"This is actually sickening ... Doctors always strongly suggest to not lift heavy because you can sever your placenta and cause major damage an early labour and a miscarriage .... Posting this picture goes people the wrong message that this is OKAY when it's not!!!!" one outraged commenter wrote.
"Cross fit? This goes way beyond a way of life, and right into an obsession. She is very selfish for endangering a life for her own personal gains and achievements. This is not a proud picture to post. That amount of weight lifted above the head is extremely dangerous while pregnant."
In fact, most health professionals don't specifically prohibit weightlifting, although many do warn pregnant women against skiing, horse-riding and scuba-diving.
There is evidence that weight-bearing exercise can reduce the length of labour but experts stress that women should avoid activities that could result in potential trauma to the foetus.
The best advice is that women may need to slow down as pregnancy progresses.
All this said, Ellison doesn't care too much about what the web thinks of her gym routine. And she has plenty of supporters, regardless: the image has been 'liked' almost 18,000 times, and shared more than 3300 times.
"I want to thank everyone for their kind and supportive responses," Ellison wrote on her Facebook page.
"Haters will hate and it's ok. My life is not their life thank goodness! ... Again, thank you! It means so much to feel this much love from a community I adore."
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