I have been surprised lately at the degree of hateful comments aimed towards pregnant women exercising, specifically but not exclusively towards women doing Crossfit. Commenters seem to be very concerned that the fetus could be harmed. But imagine a world where those who sit at home commenting on every damn thing on the internet actually turned their outrage into action? Because death while Mom exercises is sure as hell not in the list of top 15 fetal deaths as reported by the CDC!
What are some real dangers to the fetus? Air pollution, heavy metals contamination, radiation. Poverty, domestic violence, maternal diabetes. It seems a whole lot easier to blame Mom for society’s ills rather than take on systematic failures to support families, protect our environment and create a just world.
It is also interesting that people now see exercise as a choice Moms are making, putting themselves first. Historically exercise has just been life. Most people, pregnant or not, would have to chop wood and haul water, forage or hunt, carry heavy stuff and walk around. We now view exercise as a special activity that we go somewhere to perform which many people can opt out of thanks to “modern conveniences”. Additionally, pregnancy is not a disease it is a normal physiological state. Our bodies are designed to carry a fetus and there are built-in protectors. Yes, in certain rare cases a woman should rest. Sure, it may not be the best time to try something absolutely brand new. But you can swing a freakin kettlebell.
It is classist to forget that throughout this country and the world many women continue to work their asses off during pregnancy. It is sexist to see Moms as martyrs who should give up their own physical and mental health and community support to grow a baby.
Ultimately, exercise is a basic human need and right with major benefits to pretty much everyone including most pregnant women and their fetuses– from helping to manage depression and anxiety to supporting cardiovascular health to building balance and core strength. A basic cost/benefit analysis shows that it can keep some women off meds by helping them to manage health issues, and excess medications can actually endanger us–though in some cases they are clearly needed.
So if you are truly concerned about the health of other people’s fetuses please do something!! Get off your ass and help our environment. Promote a living wage, health care access or improved education for ALL. Help end all violence against women and children. Support clean air and water, safe shelter and healthy food. Be a mentor, a teacher, a leader, a volunteer. You have a lot more power to do good, stop wasting it.