Lift weights during pregnancy, at home, at work and in the gym.

The amount of weight you can lift while pregnant depends on what stage of pregnancy you’re in, how often you lift, and the type of lifting you’re doing. How much you can safely lift and carry also depends on your physical condition and whether you are using proper lifting technique.

Your body changes during pregnancy, and as a result of these changes, you may not be able to do the same activities that you were able to do before becoming pregnant, including lifting heavy objects.

With equal health and training conditions, when you are pregnant you run a risk of musculoskeletal injuries that is greater than in other phases of your life. But the risks associated with weight lifting during pregnancy don’t stop there.

For information purposes only, in this article we will illustrate what are the precautions and risks associated with lifting weights during pregnancy, we will also talk about weight lifting as a physical activity, and what Italian law provides for in the workplace.

Remember to consult your doctor, especially if you regularly move heavy loads as part of your job or training – only a doctor can help you determine how much weight is safe to lift for you and your unborn baby.

Lifting and carrying weights during pregnancy, in summary

Whether or not you can lift weights during pregnancy is a question for your doctor. Without a response from your doctor the general rule is to let someone else do it for you.

How pregnancy affects your ability to lift heavy weights

When you are pregnant your ligaments loosen and your joints become less stable.

Also, as your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts forward. This puts more pressure on your lower back and makes it more vulnerable to strain, especially when you lift something heavy.

With the bump it is also more difficult to carry objects close to your body (the bump gets in the way!). If you carry something with your arms relatively outstretched, it puts a strain on your back.

The shift in your center of gravity can also throw you off balance, making falls more likely.

Risks you run lifting weights during pregnancy

For some women, carrying weights during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight.

Lifting an object the wrong way, heavy or not, can also lead to a muscle strain .

A potentially serious complication from heavy lifting is a hernia .

How to lift weights safely during pregnancy

Women should avoid weight lifting during pregnancy. However, if you have decided to – or have to – lift a heavy object, try to do so with the following recommendations in mind:

  • when bending down to pick up or place an object on the ground, bend your legs, keeping your back straight: you work the leg muscles rather than the back muscles;
  • as you lift, contract your abs and exhale;
  • keep the load you have to lift close to your body, but avoid bumps and blows on the belly;
  • pay particular attention not to twist your torso when you’re under strain;
  • if you think the load you have to carry or lift is too heavy, don’t carry it;
  • avoid stooping, bending over, squatting;
  • avoid lifting objects higher than your head;
  • do not stand for too long;

You should avoid lifting a heavy object or weight if it causes pain or discomfort when you lift; you can’t lift it without holding your breath or straining your pelvic floor muscles; you are unable to lift using the correct technique described above.

Weightlifting in pregnancy (do weights in pregnancy)

If weight lifting is part of your regular exercise routine, you may be concerned about stopping due to pregnancy. Luckily for you this is not the case, with the right precautionary measures and in moderation, weight lifting can be maintained even during pregnancy.

Not only that, strength training and weight lifting during pregnancy can be beneficial: they improve your fitness, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, can help prevent back pain, improve sleep, improve mood and energy, facilitate the maintenance of a healthy weight.

Experts all agree on the safety of these exercises in pregnancy provided you consult your doctor beforehand.

You’ll need to change a few things about your workout, whether it’s lifting lighter weights, paying more attention to form, or trying new routines to accommodate your changing abilities. You can also try to see if your gym or fitness center can provide you with a personal trainer specializing in pre- and post-natal care, to consult in addition to your doctor.

Finally, everything we have seen so far is valid if you are a female athlete, used to lifting weights and strength exercises. If you’re completely new to weightlifting, then pregnancy probably isn’t the time to start, instead try lighter workouts, like prenatal yoga or walking.

Weight lifting by working pregnant women

If your job requires heavy lifting or strenuous work make sure you understand your rights.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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