Recently a very pregnant woman was skewered on the Internet for doing heavy weightlifting two weeks before her due date.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Daniel Roshan, an assistant professor at New York University Medical School and a maternal fetal medicine specialist, said, "pregnant women should be careful not to push their heart rates above 140 beats per minute or raise their body temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit."
One of the main reasons for avoiding heavy weightlifting and extreme exercise is to avoid exercise exhaustion.
Roshan added, "heavy weight lifting during pregnancy is generally discouraged because it could put pressure on the abdomen, uterus and cervix, which could increase the likelihood of premature labor."
In regards to the viral photo of the woman lifting weights, she could be an exception to the rule because she lifts regularly, has good technique and is well conditioned. This is not recommended, though, for women who have never picked up weights.
During pregnancy, exercise is good for you and your baby. However, you want to check with your medical profession to confirm any limitations or stipulations during your pregnancy. This isn't the time to push yourself to your limits.
Weight training provides benefits during pregnancy and after childbirth. However, weight training fitness goals should be geared toward maintenance and not dramatic gains.
Here are some tips from fitness expert Tracey Mallett and BabyCenter.com about exercising when you are pregnant:
• Be extremely careful with free weights to prevent them from hitting your abdomen.
• Listen to your body.
• Use lighter weights, more reps.
• Use resistance bands which offer different amounts of resistance and varied ways to do your weight training and pose no risk to your belly.
• Do not perform deep twists during a lifting (or yoga) session when pregnant.
• Avoid deep forward bends such as those required for deadlifts and cleans.
• Be mindful of repeated overhead arm movements as delivery gets closer.
• If you're going to lift, consider getting some insoles to support your feet.
• Go over your exercise regimen with your doctor to make sure it's okay for you to continue at your current pace while you're pregnant.
• Don't do the Valsalva maneuver (lifting without letting your breath out). This maneuver results in a rapid increase in blood pressure and intra-abdominal pressure, and may decrease oxygen flow to the fetus.
• Avoid walking lunges. These raise your risk of injury to connective tissue in the pelvic area.
• Don't lift while flat on your back. After the first trimester, lying on your back can put pressure on a major vein called the vena cava and diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus. An easy modification is to tilt the bench to an incline.
• If you're feeling muscle strain or excessive fatigue, modify the moves you're doing and/or reduce the frequency of your workouts.
"Is It Safe to Lift Weights during Pregnancy?" BabyCenter. Web. 05 May 2014.
"Pregnant and Weight Lifting? You May Want to Reconsider." Breaking Muscle. Web. 05 May 2014.
"Pregnant Weight Lifter Stirs Debate." Well Pregnant Weight Lifter Stirs Debate Comments. Web. 05 May 2014.
Reviewed May 6, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith