This pregnant extreme sports fan is destroying myth that expectant mothers can’t be physically active
It's a fact of life that being nine months pregnant limits the physical capabilities of a mother-to-be. Due to the enormous size and weight of the new little life sitting inside of their bellies, it can be hard for expecting mothers to do the simplest of tasks, like tying their shoelaces and getting upstairs.
However, Anna-Lee Markstedt, a Swedish extreme sports enthusiast, is trying to show that just because she's heavily pregnant, that doesn't make her any less able to do the sports she loves. Despite carrying a huge baby bump, Anna has been rock-climbing, boxing, snorkelling, and getting into various yoga poses.
Anna has been sharing the images of her undertaking these tasks online and says that she wants to show that healthy moms-to-be are capable of doing anything that they set their minds to. However, despite Anna-Lee's message being one of strength and empowerment, some people are not a fan of her pregnancy techniques.
"My extreme sports pregnancy split people into two camps. The first is the ‘You Go Girl’ with the #PregnantNotDying mindset," says Anna-Lee. "The second is 'That is irresponsible' and 'Must be harmful for the baby'.
"I got almost exclusively positive reactions from people who are also sporty and could see that I was being cautious. People who know me.
"But then you have the people online, without background knowledge and facts, who said I was endangering the baby. I tried to accept that they are probably just concerned."
While Anna is an advocate for keeping fit while pregnant, she is keen to stress that she partook in these sports before becoming pregnant and says that women should start practising them before they are heavily pregnant.
"I listen to my body," she says, explaining that she had to alter her exercise regime to cater for her ever-changing body.
"I kept my heart rate under 140, as recommended, to be sure the baby always got the full amount of oxygen. I didn’t do jumps, walking lunges or ab exercises nor anything in plank position, since my stomach muscles separated.
"I had four physicians encouraging my active lifestyle, and studies have proved that immobility is very unhealthy for a pregnant woman.
"Lack of movement not only makes birth and recovery harder for the woman, but can even affect the baby negatively, because of pregnancy complications.
"I was extra careful, I had check-ups every three weeks, and my baby girl had excellent stats, as did I."
The mom claims that she got into extreme sports after competing in an obstacle course (OCR) in Sweden. She went on to become an obstacle course racing champ and became the first woman in Sweden to become sponsored for competing. She undertook her last race at 17 weeks pregnant and made sure that she had someone spotting her on the obstacles to ensure that she didn't hurt herself or the baby.
"In a race before that, I opted to skip the ramp due to the high risk. You want to be able to assess your abilities and know your body to be doing OCRs while pregnant.
"The sport has a lot of falls, with the grounds being wet and muddy. We’ve seen countless broken bones, and people are often bleeding.
"We race in thorn bushes and nettles, on ice, over slippery sharp rocks and in stormy weather. People have forgotten how to run in terrain, and how to hang off stuff, resulting in a lot of injuries.
"Mentally it makes you challenge your body and if you are into adrenaline it’s probably the closest you’ll come to an Indiana Jones experience."
In terms of what sports Anna-Lee would recommend to women who are expecting, she advises to take it easy and know your body's capabilities.
"I would definitely not recommend anyone do their first race while pregnant. Stick to what you already know, or if you wish to try totally new sports maybe try swimming or special pregnancy classes."
While some people may not be fans of Anna-Lee's method of dealing with pregnancy, there's no denying that it's very impressive.