Dear Bundoo: Why can’t I lift weights while pregnant?
Keeping up a healthy diet and regular exercise is important during pregnancy, but one mom-to-be is an avid weight-lifter. Should she stop because she’s pregnant? See what our expert says.
I’ve been an athlete since high school and in college did a lot of sports and worked out a lot. I’m now four months pregnant, and I’ve still been working out like normal. It hasn’t really been a problem so far. I do a lot of weight lifting, but I don’t lift what I consider to be heavy weights, and there’s no strain. Still, everywhere I read people say that pregnant women shouldn’t lift heavy weights. But does that really mean me too? I’ve been lifting weights for years, and I’m careful and know how to do it safely. I feel like stopping would actually be worse for me than continuing, but I don’t want to do anything that would hurt my baby. Help!
—Heavy Lifting Mama
Dear Heavy Lifting Mama,
Good for you for being so active in pregnancy! We know that exercise in pregnancy has so many wonderful benefits for both you and your baby, and so many pregnant women in the US get far too little of it. What people are telling you about not lifting any weight in pregnancy is in general not true…mostly. Since you were so active before pregnancy, it is OK to continue to lift weights, but you’ll need to modify things a bit with your pregnancy. As you get farther along, your uterus will get bigger, and your center of gravity will shift. Your ligaments are also a little looser from the hormone progesterone, making certain injuries more likely.
Lying flat on your back is not advised from this point forward in your pregnancy. And of course, we don’t want you accidentally dropping a weight on your belly! So, with all that in mind, feel free to keep lifting as long as you take it slow, stay off your back, do so in a manner where weights can’t hit your belly (machines may be better than free weights for certain exercises), make sure your joints are supported, and go slowly. Stay hydrated, listen to your body, and make sure your doctor knows about your level of activity to give you the thumbs up as well. Good luck!
Answered by Dr. Jen Lincoln, MD, IBCLC, Bundoo OB/GYN
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