You might think lifting weights and pregnancy would not go together, but there are many benefits to strength training, and it can be done safely all the way up to delivery. I have a friend, (granted, she is a trainer, and is in great shape), who was carrying her first child at the age of 40. She weight trained all the way up until her water broke-- literally, at Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA, in the middle of her workout.
Weight training has many benefits for the pregnant mom to be. Here are just a few:
- Keeps back and stomach muscles toned and strong. Lower back pain is common during pregnancy. The back and stomach muscles work together and as the stomach muscles stretch, their relationship to the back muscles changes. Weight training can help maintain the relationship between the back and stomach muscles, keep them strong, and reduce lower back pain. Keeping the stomach and back muscles toned will have lasting benefits.
- Reduces the amount of time it will take to regain a strong core after delivery.
- Helps build stamina needed for labor and delivery. The better shape you are in at the time of delivery, the easier time your body will have handling whatever situation may arise during your delivery.
You will tire less easily, and will be able to push more effectively, possibly having a direct effect on the amount of time you spend in labor. It is possible during long or difficult deliveries to tire out, and not be able to effectively push.
- Women who weight train have a lower rate of c-sections.
- Decreases instances of varicose veins (amen to that sister).
- Helps maintain reasonable weight gain, and decreases additional fat stores.
If you are lifting weights as part of your exercise routine before you become pregnant, or you would like to add weights to your routine, there are safe and simple ways to adjust your routine to keep your body in shape, and your baby safe. For example, you might switch from free weights to machines, or resistance bands, eliminating the possibility of injury from dropping a weight.
Your focus should be on maintaining strength and flexibility, not increasing muscle mass, during pregnancy. And exercise should never be used to lose weight during pregnancy.
Please review the previous post
for a set of guidelines set out by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And always be sure to check with your healthcare provider regarding your exercise routine throughout your pregnancy.
You might also consider hiring a trainer who specializes in maternal pregnancy fitness to help you alter your routine (or construct a new one) to accommodate the changing needs of your body. You do not need to commit to nine months of a personal trainer. That might not be in your budget, especially with a new mouth to feed on the way.
However, you could enlist a trainer one day every month to show you how to change the exercises you are doing to better fit your needs. They may advise removing certain exercises from your routine that are no longer appropriate for you (for instance, any exercise that requires laying on your back should be eliminated after the first trimester), they may decrease the amount of weight you are using and increase the number of reps, or they may add new exercises that will help with delivery as you near week 40.