Few people would argue that being healthy and strong before you get pregnant is a huge asset for any woman planning to start, or expand the size of, her family. But are there benefits of strength training for women (and the developing baby) during pregnancy?
In a word, yes.
There are many health benefits for women who lift weights regularly, so it only makes sense that many of those same benefits would apply to pregnant women that participate in regular resistance training.
- Increased Muscle Strength–Carrying and birthing a baby is no picnic, just ask anyone who has ever done it. However, regular strength training before and during pregnancy can help ease some of the symptoms that may be experienced during pregnancy–especially back pain and fatigue.
- Controlled Weight Gain–Too often women use being pregnant as an excuse to eat whatever they want and gain weight. Research shows that gaining too much weight during pregnancy is bad for both mom and baby.
- Improved Self-Esteem–There are few things in the world more beautiful than a healthy and fit pregnant woman. Yet some women tend to view themselves as less attractive when they are pregnant. Breaking a sweat while pregnant is a great way feel stronger and improve they way you view yourself.
There are, however, a few things that a pregnant woman MUST keep in mind if she plans to strength train safely during her pregnancy. And of course, please be sure to consult your physician before lifting weights or increasing your physical activity level during your pregnancy for both your safety and that of your baby.
- Stick With Familiar Exercises–Being pregnant is a time of change for your body. There are so many internal and external changes happening at once that a little bit of ‘normal’ might be welcomed.
- Be Flexible–While following your normal workout routine is the goal, there will be days that you will need to dial it back a little bit, which is perfectly normal! Stick to exercises you are familiar with, and decrease the intensity if you are feeling sore or tired.
- Listen to Your Body–You will know better than anyone what you can handle on any particular day, and just because you are scheduled for a resistance training session doesn’t mean it is set in stone. If your body is saying no weights, listen to it! Instead, try yoga or go for a bike ride. But if your body truly needs an off day, give it one.
- Maintain Proper Form–By focusing on maintaining proper form for each exercise, you are dramatically decrease your chance of being injured while working out. When in doubt, emphasize form over resistance level for maximal benefits.
In this day and age when we take every possible measure to ensure the safety of our children, too often we forget that the choices we make affect them before they are even born. But by living a healthy, active lifestyle before and during her pregnancy, a woman is able to do everything that she can to increase the likelihood of delivering a healthy and happy baby.
And that’s what really matters.
Ladies, did you maintain a consistent workout schedule while you were pregnant? Do you wish you had? What do you think about moms-to-be lifting weights? Let me know!