Lifting While Pregnant

image001Pregnant women are encouraged to find a healthy exercise program if they do not have a high risk pregnancy. Women with heart disease and or lung disease are encouraged to not seek an exercise program because it could cause serious complications to their pregnancy. 

Body weight training has only grown in popularity with females than ever before. Not only does body weight training allow women to drop pounds. It also allows them to tone their bodies. Many women find themselves concerned whether or not they should continue weight training once they become pregnant, among those is doing lifting while pregnant. 

Is Lifting While Pregnant Safe?

Most women who are used to workout and weight lifting can continue weight training as long as they are healthy and have a low risk pregnancy.

Generally, heavy weight lifting for pregnant women is discouraged because it applies pressure to the cervix, abdomen, and uterus. Pressure on these parts of the female body during pregnancy can lead to premature birth. Pregnancy experts point out that there are exceptions to this rule that only applies to well-conditioned women who lift often, safely, and practice good technique.

Lifting While Pregnant--What’s the Limit?

There is not a specific limit on how much weight a pregnant woman can lift without putting their pregnancies at risk. Most pregnant women are restricted from lifting anything that weighs over 25 pounds. Relaxin, which is a hormone, is increased during pregnancy and can increase the discomfort of lifting weights, but it does not increase the danger at all.

The amount of weight that a woman can lift while pregnant should be based on her limits before pregnancy. For a woman that can bench press forty pounds, dumb bells that weight around nine to twelve pounds should be effective. Experienced weight lifters may be able to lift more. It is most important to follow what you feel your body is capable of and the directions given to you by your doctor.

Precautions to Take for Lifting While Pregnant

Pregnant women who lift weights are recommended to take the following precautions.

1. Talk to Your Doctor Often

Be sure to check in with your healthcare provider on a regular basis. Let your doctor know that you are lifting weights. Be sure to inform your doctor on your pace and how much weight that you lift. Your doctor can help fine tune your exercise program so that it is good for you and your baby.

2. Use Light Weights and Do More Reps

Instead of lifting heavy weights, pregnant women are suggested to lift lighter weights more often. Adjusting your routine can allow you to easily avoid overloading your joints. Instead of lifting thirty pound weights fifteen times, try lifting fifteen pounds thirty times.

3. Avoid the Valsalva Maneuver While Lifting

It is important for pregnant women who lift weights to avoid doing the Valsalva maneuver. This move makes the body forcibly exhale, but doesn’t allow the air to actually leave the body. This can put pressure on the abdomen and increase blood pressure levels. The Valsalva maneuver can also cause the fetus to experience low oxygen levels.

4. Do Not Do Walking Lunges

Walking lunges while pregnant can cause issues with the connectivity in tissue that is located within the pelvis. Walking lunges are not recommended for pregnant women because they are hard on the joints. Since Relaxin is increased during pregnancy, the joints in the body tend to be looser. This can cause some serious discomfort for the expectant mother.

5. Use Resistance Bands

While pregnant, it is very important to be careful with the weights while lifting. Avoid hitting your abdomen by using resistance bands while lifting weights. Resistance bands can give you the ability to complete many different exercises without putting yourself at any risk. Resistance bands can help you add spice to your workout program throughout your entire pregnancy.

6. Do Not Lift While Lying on Your Back

It is important for pregnant women to not lift weights while lying on their backs. In their first trimester, women can lift weights on their backs, but pregnant women in their second trimester should not lift weights while lying down. Lifting weights during the second trimester can put an enormous amount of pressure on the vena cava, which is a major blood vessel. The vena cava is responsible for carry oxygen to the brain and the uterus.

7. Pay Attention to the Signals Your Body Sends You

The easiest way to play it safe while lifting weights during pregnancy is to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are feeling fatigued you may want to consider delaying your exercise routine until you feel more energetic. Muscle strain is another sign that you should take a break from your weight lifting routine.

Techniques to Help Avoid Back Injuries While Lifting Weights

  • Your legs are the strongest muscles in your body. Lift with your legs instead of your back.
  • Lower your center of gravity before lifting. Make sure you are level with the object in which you intend to lift.
  • Tighten your abdomen muscles as you lift the object.
  • Do not forget to breathe as you lift.
  • Bring the object close to the body if it is not heavy.
  • Move slowly while carrying the object.
  • Do not forget to bend your knees when you set the object down.
  • Do not twist your spine from side to side while lifting the object.

High Impact Exercises to Be Avoided During Pregnancy

An assistant professor at the University of New York Medical School named Dr. Daniel Roshan suggests that pregnant women can put themselves at risk for exhaustion if they are not careful. Dr. Roshan, who is also maternal fetal medicine specialist, suggests that pregnant women not allow their heart rates to go above140 beats per minute. He also recommends that pregnant women not let their overall body temperature rise above 100 degrees. It is best for you and your baby to avoid the following exercises while pregnant because they are high impact.

  • Heavy weight training and heavy lifting
  • Scuba diving
  • Contact sports
  • Sit ups
  • Anything jarring like horseback riding
  • Anything that involves a sudden change of direction like skiing or snowboarding
  • Gymnastics or other sports that increase your risk of falling