Weightlifting Safely During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Pregnancy is a time to monitor your health choices more than usual, and you may be wondering whether lifting weights is safe to put on the agenda. If you decide to proceed with weight lifting, know what safety precautions to take and exercises to avoid at different stages of your pregnancy. In this guide, you'll learn the dos and don'ts based on the latest research and expert advice.
Is It Safe to Lift Weights During Pregnancy?
As long as you avoid postures and exercises that aren't recommended safe for pregnancy, weight lifting is safe for you and your baby during pregnancy. Of course, it's important to take precautions and listen to your body for signs of strain. The best way to find out if weight lifting during pregnancy is safe for you is always to ask your midwife or obstetrician.
Benefits of Weightlifting During Pregnancy
Weight lifting and other styles of strength training are beneficial for your pregnancy. Building muscle and stamina can help you endure pregnancy while optimizing your baby's health in utero. Here are the major benefits you can reap from weight lifting in pregnancy:
Reduce Pregnancy Pains
As your baby grows, your body will change to provide the space it needs. As a result, discomfort and pain aren't uncommon, particularly in the latest weeks of pregnancy. Strengthening your muscles can help support your frame and prevent or reduce pregnancy pains.
Prepare Your Body for Labor
According to a study published in Sports Health, exercising during pregnancy can cut the length of labor and lower your chances of needing a C-section. It's not hard to believe, given that childbirth is so physically intensive. Maintaining the health of your cardiovascular system and muscles during pregnancy can give you the endurance it takes.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to the Strength and Conditioning Journal, weight training is an effective way to manage your weight during pregnancy. It helps support a strong vascular system, which is crucial because your body's oxygen demands increase as the pregnancy goes on.
Support Your Baby's Health
Earlier generations worried exercise could harm the baby in utero. Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology back in 2000 confirms that weight lifting during pregnancy enhances fetoplacental growth, leading to improved fetal development by enhancing fetoplacental growth.
Safety Risks and What to Avoid
As your bump grows, be sure to avoid using larger, heavier weights like barbells and bulkier dumbbells. Additionally, you want to avoid doing certain exercises that can put you at risk.
Keep Your Lunges Technique Dialed in
Poorly performed Walking lunges can strain the connective tissue in your pelvic region, which stretches to accommodate your baby. Maintain proper core and knee stability to proper build up your lower half.
Don't Lift Lying Flat on Your Back
When your womb sits back on your other organs, it reduces blood flow, and in turn, can lower your oxygenation levels. Avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back (or on your stomach, obviously). This includes regular sit-ups and many other exercises that train your core. However, you can do sit-ups propped up on a stability ball. Be sure to do your upper body weight lifting exercises sitting upright or leaning forward to avoid lying on your back.
Don't Lift Overhead in Your Final Trimester
Limit upper body exercises that involve lifting weight overhead to your first and second trimesters. In your last 3 months of pregnancy, avoid lifting weight overhead.
Never Hold Your Breath
When working out during pregnancy, you must always breathe continuously, no matter what the exercise is. Avoid holding your breath or using the Valsalva maneuver during weight lifting.
Tips for Weightlifting During Pregnancy
If you're pregnant, you're probably already thinking about things like staying hydrated and getting enough rest. Here are additional tips to bear in mind for lifting weights during pregnancy:
Lighter Weights, More Reps
When you're weight lifting during pregnancy, you want to take it easy on your joints. This is because pregnancy elevates levels of the hormone relaxin, which has the effect of slightly loosening your joints. It allows your body to make it needs to make as your baby grows, but your joints aren't in the optimal state for heavy weight lifting. That said, you can still work your muscles just as well by increasing the repetitions you do with lighter weights.
Try Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are elastic loops of different strengths that can be used in place of weights for resistance training. They're lightweight, and you don't risk the chance of accidentally hitting your bump with something heavy. At the same time, you get an effective strength training workout, so if weightlifting makes you nervous, consider buying resistance bands—they're also more economical and don't take up much space.
Listen to Your Body
In the past, doctors recommended keeping your heart rate below 140 beats per minute during pregnancy. The medical community now knows such a limit doesn't exist, but nonetheless, you want to avoid breathlessness during exercise. If you feel any pain or dizziness while exercising, be sure to stop immediately.
Strength Training in Pregnancy
You can train during pregnancy so long as you follow precautions and go at your own pace. Pregnancy definitely isn't the time to push your boundaries, but weight lifting is a safe way to stay fit. The key considerations are to lighten your weight and avoid harmful postures such as lying on your back. Making sure your pregnancy fitness regimen checks out with your health care provider can give you peace of mind as you advance through the stages of pregnancy.