"Pregnancy used to be considered a 'disability.' It was ill-advised to lift weights
or get your heart rate above a certain level. That’s old school thought."
Pregnancy and pumping iron
Leigh-Anne Williams of Franklin believes fitness isn't just for physical health, but mental health as well - even during pregnancy.
"It’s something I do for myself .... I have much more energy and the natural endorphin's, the feel-good chemicals that are released during exercise act as a natural anti-depressant," said Williams, an operating room physicians assistant.
She has four children, the oldest about to enter middle school and her youngest came to this world three years ago just hours after she had a really great session of lifting.
"I went out with a bang," she said having a really solid lift and achieving her highest weights in weeks. She carries a sense of pride that she achieved something she'll always remember.
Lifting weights or heavy exercise isn't a common thing among pregnant women. Williams said that if you're active before pregnancy it's OK to keep being active with the doctors approval. "I wouldn't go from sitting around watching T.V. to suddenly power lifting," she said.
In the past she has been able to power lift well into the 200 pound ranges, but she does cut back during pregnancy.
"I am cautious and always listen to my body. My docs are OK with me continuing my pre-pregnancy workout regimen, but pregnancy itself naturally limits me," she said.
And she doesn't take chances.
"I have scaled back on the amount and intensity of exercising this pregnancy. I was very cautious in the beginning of the pregnancy and pretty much did no exercise at all until I was given the green light."She said she started very slowly getting back into exercising around 14 weeks and listening to what her body was telling her.
"My pregnancy workouts are usually short, sometimes only 15-30 minutes," she said.
Attitudes about exercise and pregnancy over the years have changed.
"Pregnancy used to be considered a 'disability.' It was ill-advised to lift weights or get your heart rate above a certain level. That’s old school thought. Most OB’s now endorse that continuing your pre-pregnancy exercise regimen is safe as long as there are no circumstances that would put you at high risk for complications, " Williams said.
She does caution that pregnant women should always consult with their obstetrician about their exercise routine and understand that modifications may be needed.
"Exercise in pregnancy is healthy not only for the woman, but for the baby, and can make labor and delivery easier, as well as recovery," she said. " Exercise may look a little different during pregnancy. A growing belly can make certain exercises more difficult. Certain hormones in pregnancy can make joints unstable. Laying down flat after a certain point in pregnancy is not advisable. There are lots of things to take into consideration when exercising during pregnancy, but if you educate yourself, listen to your body, and make the necessary modifications, it can be done."