Can you heavy weightlifting during pregnancy?

Can you heavy weightlifting during pregnancy?

Can you heavy weightlifting during pregnancy?? Apparently yes but let me explain!A lot of guidelines are suggesting women to be active during their pregnancy, but the intensity is rarely mentioned. Almost all are suggesting aerobic activities like walking, pilates, yoga but what is somebody wants to do some more?Recently this article came out stating that women who lifted heavy during pregnancy showed lower rates of complications like gestational diabetes, gestational hypertenion, perinatal mood disorders. Without any increased risk of pelvic floor disorders postpartum like incontinence.Now that’s a statement…can we send any women to deadlift heavy than?Let’s dig a bit into this; Let’s define weightlifting.

What is Weightlifting?

Weightlifting is something we do regularly in our life. Lifting grocery bags, car seats or babies is part of normal activities of daily living. Therefore also lifting weights in the gym is not that different as long as the weight is moderate. In this article women continued their moderate weightlifting within their first 6 weeks after knowing about their pregnancy.

But in this article was specified HEAVY weightlifting. So we have to do some more considerations
As we increase the weight our body needs to implement some strategies to help us with the lift, one of these is the Valsalva maneuver.
The Valsalva maneuver is performed by a forceful attempt of exhalation against a closed airway, which is normally what happens in weightlifting.
Because it increases the abdominal pressure Doctors normally recommend not to do weitghlifting that requires the valsalva maneuver.
Also another discouraged type of lifting is the one laying on the back (i.e. bench press or some types of leg press) because it increases the blood pressure and might lead to faint.
This article investigate exactly this type of lifting, and it came out that women went back to weightlifting using the Valsavla maneuver between 4.5 and 5.5 months. All of this not only was done with no side effects, but with a lot of benefits too!

So it’s true! All women should do heavy weightlifting. Period. Thanks. Well, no. Unfortunately one study is not enough to safely say this.
First of all, this study have investigated women which were familiar with these exercises and well trained. So these conclusions are not applicable to the whole population.
If we look at further evidence we find out that current guidelines across the globe have, infact, a much milder approach.
Most of them agree that exercises should be a lowered in intensity during the first trimester.

Also the intensity shouldn’t cross 6-7/10 at the perceived exertion scale and is mainly aerobic exercises and not weightlifting.
So what do we do??

2 categories of Pregnant Women

We will have to divide pregnant women in 2 categories;

 Normally active: pregnant women who habitually engage in vigorous-intensity activity or are highly active can continue physical activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period, provided that they keep in mind the reason to stop exercises such as:

• Excessive shortness of breath

• Chest pain

• Painful uterine contractions (more than 6-8 per hour)

• Vaginal bleeding

• Any “gush” of fluid from vagina (suggesting premature rupture of the membranes)

• Dizziness or faintness

 Normally not active: Healthy women who are not already highly active or doing vigorous-intensity activity should get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Preferably this activity should be spread throughout the week.

Conclusions about weightlifting during pregnancy

Apparently weightlifting is not harmful. Women that are used to it are safe to do it starting from 6th week of pregnancy and heavier from at least 4.5 months. However, it is safe to lower the intensity and avoid extreme exertion.

This is valid ONLY for women with a normal gestation and no risk factors. Maintain adequate nutrition and hydration – drink liquids before and after exercise. Know the reasons to stop exercise and consult a qualified health care provider immediately if they occurs.

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