Lifting While Pregnant
It used to be that doctors would advise against any strenuous physical exercise for women that are expecting a child. However, the times have changed and most specialists and doctors will go so far as recommend that pregnant women should start some kind of physical fitness regiment as part of their prenatal care. Some of the benefits of getting regular exercise, especially weight training, for mothers-to-be include increased energy levels, decreased aches and pains that come with pregnancy and, best of all, it has proven to make labor easier and faster. However, for pregnant women it is important to remember not to push yourself too far, because there are certain limits and precautions you want to take to protect yourself and your unborn child. Here are 5 weight training safety tips for pregnant women.
- When women are pregnant, the body releases a natural protein hormone called relaxin, which helps loosen the joints so that the body can carry itself better and to compensate for the extra load. In order to not overwork the joints while they are in this delicate condition, it is recommended to lift lighter weights with more repetitions, opposed to heavier weights with the same or less repetitions. The key is to not work the joints too much, because you can actually wear them out if you lift too heavy of weights with too many repetitions.
- It is also recommended that you do not lift free weights because you can risk the bar landing on your stomach. If you do life free weights, make sure to have a spotter and to not let the weights hit your stomach on the way down. It might also be wise to lift free weights only if there is a safety guard, because you want to protect your stomach at all costs.
- You also want to avoid the Valsalva maneuver, because it can cause your heart rate and pressure to rise, which can cause internal pressure in the abdomen to build and can result in decreased oxygen flow to the fetus. It is best to take small breaths while you are lifting weights and if you can’t control your breathing, lift smaller waits and exhale more slowly.
- And after the first trimester, you never want to lie completely flat on your back, because it can cause pressure to build on the vena cava, which can ultimately decrease blood flow and cord blood to the uterus and fetus. It can also lower blood flow to the brain. You can still lifts weights on your back, but you want to make sure the bench is at a proper angle or tilted.
- Lastly, it is extremely important to make sure to listen to your body. While you are pregnant, your body and your unborn child might tell you when you have had enough. If you get tired, it is recommended that you don’t push yourself any further. When possible take breaks, because it could be a sign that you are wearing yourself out. If you can’t do it for yourself, at least think about that little guy or gal inside your belly.