Is it safe to lift weights while pregnant?
There is so much information on the internet about what you can and can’t do while pregnant when it comes to exercise and MUCH of this information is incorrect or given without research to back it up. There are many theories surrounding weight lifting during pregnancy that have been proven to be false by new research. One myth I’ve heard quite a bit is that pregnant women should not lift weights more than 20 pounds because this may increase the risk of a prolapse, preterm labor, and/or miscarriage.
There is NO research that supports the above-mentioned 20-pound weight lifting claim and new studies have busted this myth. One research study in the International Urogynecology Journal by Lori Forner found that active women who lifted “lighter weights” (less than 15 Kg) throughout their pregnancy reported an INCREASE in pelvic organ prolapse compared to women who lifted “heavy weights” during their pregnancy or weights greater than 50 Kg! Research also indicates that lifting heavy weights during pregnancy does not result in an increased risk of miscarriage or preterm labor.
Another research study by Prevett et al. shows that women who lifted heavy weights throughout their pregnancy (weights over 80% of their 1 repetition maximum) had a lower risk of gestational diabetes, lower risk of delivery and birth complications including decreased risk of c-section and shorter hospital stays, lower risk of preeclampsia and lower rates of postpartum depression compared to the general obstetric population! This study also showed that there was no increased risk of pelvic floor dysfunction including pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or urinary incontinence.
Other benefits of weight lifting during pregnancy include improved core and back strength, better posture, less chance of excess weight gain, and being better prepared to lift your baby after birth. Weight lifting may also decrease pain associated with pregnancy.
A few things to consider with exercise and weight lifting during pregnancy are to listen to your body and to start exercising at your pre-pregnancy fitness level and slowly work up to higher intensity exercise, or stay at the same exercise intensity as before you were pregnant. Not all women will be able to perform high-intensity exercise or progress their pre-pregnancy fitness routine during pregnancy and that is OKAY! If you are experiencing pain, feeling fatigued, nauseous, or like you don’t have enough energy, you should do whatever exercise feels good for you and your body. Lower intensity exercise like yoga, pilates, swimming, and walking also have positive outcomes for a healthy pregnancy.
It is also important to slowly progress weights while lifting during pregnancy and only add a maximum of 5 pounds per week; as long you can lift the lighter weight with optimal technique, adequate safety, and have no adverse symptoms during or after your workout. Signs to lower the intensity of your exercise routine and to stop exercise for the day include: pelvic or vaginal pain, vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, pelvic pressure, uterine contractions, and urinary incontinence during exercise. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor before continuing exercise again. If you have high-risk pregnancy, you should also get clearance from your doctor before beginning an exercise routine. If you found this blog post helpful, follow @glacierpeaksmobilept on Instagram and Facebook for more helpful tips for exercise and physical therapy during pregnancy and for all stages of life.