If you are not used to a weight training regime then pregnancy is certainly not the time to start such a workout without proper supervision. But those who have been regularly exposed to adequate amount weight lifting they may continue with this regime throughout most parts of their pregnancy.
Lifting weight during pregnancy can be a great way to keep your body toned and stay fit but it does require a few essential precautions to ensure safety of the growing fetus. Some modifications in the regime and techniques are required while lifting weights during pregnancy. Even while doing mundane household activities the same precautions and methods must be adopted while lifting any weight during pregnancy.
Dangers of Lifting Weight During Pregnancy
Lifting weight during pregnancy has its own inherent dangers despite the few benefits that it provides to expectant mothers. The greatest danger lies in hurting your back which is already under the additional stress of bearing the weight of the growing uterus. Since the normal balance of the body is imbalanced due to extra weight in the front portion, there are high chances that the lower back muscles get strained while lifting weight in this condition. The lower back is most prone to injuries arising out of lifting weight during pregnancy. There are possibilities of a muscle pull or ligament tear in case the weights are lifted with a jerk or without prior warm up of the concerned muscles. The other danger from lifting weights in this condition is that damage that it may do to the growing uterus. Any harsh pull on the tummy supporting muscles will result in the placenta being stretched which may impact the safety of the baby inside.
Benefits of Lifting Weight During pregnancy
Lifting weights during pregnancy is a wonderful means of maintaining a great looking physique and also helps in reducing aches and pains typical during this stage by strengthening the back and shoulders to take on the additional weight of the enlarged breasts and ever growing uterus in the tummy. Strengthening of the knees, ankles and lower back can be achieved through such a regime during pregnancy to help you prepare for the big day ahead and also thereafter to lift your forthcoming bundle of joy with ease. The hips and the buttocks remain toned through weight training so that you never appear out of shape even after delivery. Many obstetricians believe that weight training adds strength to the hips and pelvic girdle that in fact make the process of delivery easier. Abdominal contractions at the time of partum can be made more effective by strengthening achieved through lifting weights during pregnancy. However all such exercises must be aimed at providing strength and relaxation without too much strain which is required for building up muscle mass. Pregnancy is not the right time to enhance muscles but rather just maintain shape and provide some exercise without undue pressures to the mother or the uterus.
How Much Weight is Safe for Lifting During Pregnancy
There is no clear guideline on this issue and depends on the experience and strength prior to pregnancy. Generally not more than 20 pounds are to be used at any point of time unless one has been a professional lifter before. Also machines are considered safer than free weights for usage during pregnancy as the chances of any piece slipping and falling on a vulnerable part of the body is eliminated in the machines. Leg presses with about 30 pound weights are also considered safe as long as they are confined to about 10 repetitions. It must be remembered that more number of repetitions with lesser weights will lead to undesirable exhaustion while lifting weights during pregnancy.
Precautions for Lifting Weight During Pregnancy
A few practical precautions while doing weight training will ensure that the desired benefits are accrued while remaining within limits of safety to protect yourself as well as the baby. Discussed below are some of the common precautions that must be applied though details of modifications in the amount and technique of weight training will be provided specifically for individuals by your health care provider considering the exact physical condition and weight of the expectant mother.
- Ask your Gynecologist: Prior to starting any type of weight training regime at any stage of pregnancy it is mandatory to take advice from your gynecologist and the health care provider to chalk out a suitable program keeping in view the restrictions imposed by pregnancy. Only those workouts that are considered absolutely safe should be adopted. There are several tailor made regimes which have been specifically designed to suit the requirements of pregnant women aimed at providing the required strength in targeted parts of the body without exposing to unnecessary dangers that may arise out of strenuous lifting. Previous familiarity with weights is a major factor that decides the kind of regime that will be suitable for an individual.
- More Repetitions rather than Higher Weights: Lifting weights during pregnancy has the inherent danger of an unwanted overstretch which may have serious consequences, therefore a smarter way of doing this regime is to use lighter weights and adding more number of repetitions to achieve the objective without any harm to yourself or the baby. Weights such as 15, 20, 30 pounds are ideal with a maximum of 20 repetitions in any type of lifting exercise.
- No Valsalva Maneuver: The process of trying to forceful exhale while keeping the nose and mouth shut is commonly known as Valsalva which is often resorted to clear blocked ears or sinuses. Lifter resort to this technique quite often during weight training. However lifting weights during pregnancy implies that this cannot be attempted as it leads to a sudden increase in blood pressure and exerts a jerky pressure on intra abdominal area where the fetus is held. This may even result in stoppage of oxygen to the fetus.
- Be Careful with Free Weights: While fixed machines do not pose this kind of danger, free weights always have the potential to slip out of grip and fall on the wrong place. In case any such weight hits the abdomen it may have disastrous consequences.
- No Walking Lunges: While walking lunges are great for improving flexibility in the body which helps lifters, when lifting weight during pregnancy, this action may lead to an inadvertent pull of the connective tissues which support the pelvic area and therefore needs to be avoided at all costs.
- No Flat Backs: After the first trimester during pregnancy lying flat on the back may result in straining the vein called the Vena Cava which supplies blood to the brain a s well as the uterus. A more reasonable method is to use a slightly inclined back rest while lifting weight during pregnancy.
The most important guideline while lifting weight during pregnancy is to look out for any adverse symptoms from the body. In case of any pain or discomfort being felt, the exercise must be immediately abandoned and medical help sought in this regard. While it is safe to lift weight up to even the advanced stages of pregnancy, the essential precautions must be adhered to in order to prevent any mishap. The regime must initially be certified and approved by your health care provider prior to being undertaken at home. Many women today resort to lifting weight during pregnancy as a means to strengthen the muscles that are subjected to additional pressures during the progress of the pregnancy.