Dear Fitness Expert,
I have been weight training for over 6 weeks now and I am now just a few weeks pregnant. How much weight can I continue lifting now that I am pregnant?
This is a good question. If you are doing powerlifting, I would suggest backing off slowly. You don't have to stop all at once because your body is already acclimated to this kind of intense workout but because there is little data on the subject of powerlifting and pregnancy, it is better to ere on the side of caution.
While I was on the US Bobsled team, I was squatting 360 pounds into my fourth month. I was part of a study with the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committees because there was almost no research on this kind of training. For the elite athlete, the medical advice has always been, go with what feels good. For the weekend warrior, we need to be more cautious.
Now, if you are lifting moderately -- say, 20 to 50 pounds with higher repetitions -- you should be able to continue throughout the pregnancy. You will find this is a wonderful way to prepare you for the big day.
Yes, come show time, you will need to have the upper and lower body strength to hold on the side rails of the bed and bare down. Many women who did not work out during pregnancy report feeling very sore after the baby is born. Surprise! Guess what? When you are straining against your muscles for 15+ hours, you will be sore if you are not in shape. But for those who trained while pregnant reported a much easier (and faster) delivery.
Note: Having said all this, you have an obligation to you/your baby to work with a trainer. You need to make sure that your form is correct while lifting, that you are not putting undue pressure on your body and your motions are safe. Remember that while you are pregnant, your joints begin to loosen. You need to make sure that your exercises are controlled and proper. Meet with a trainer and go over your routine.
If you can, find a training buddy who will be there to encourage you on, make you feel good/happy but also secure. I never trained alone. It was an added security for everyone.Should you want to run your routine by me, let me know. But it sounds like you are on track. Stay strong!
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!