When one thinks of a pregnant woman, images may come to one’s mind of fragility, weakness, and cravings for pickles and ice cream. You can thank the early 20th century for this change in the course of human events. Up until the beginning of mega-hospitals, woman engaged in physical activity usually right up to the day of labor if they were part of the working class. My grandfather grew up in Africa, and he told me that the women in his village would literally be working in their gardens and giving birth while holding a third-world squat. That is in a bit of a contrast to the present mindset, is it not?
But is exercise and weightlifting harmful to the unborn baby and the mother? Or, can it be incredibly beneficial to both parties? This article will attempt to draw a conclusion on the topic of weightlifting during pregnancy.
Like with most physical warnings from the 20th century, they are now slowly being reversed, and science is slowly beginning to crawl out of the hole that it dug itself. The science has begun to reverse itself from previous recommendations that women stay off their feet during pregnancy, and rather than suggesting very light cardio, it now suggests moderate weight training. This was once thought that of as a strenuous activity that would result in a premature birth and lower birth weight. Tell that to the hordes of pregnant warriors currently backsquatting at your local gym. It’s simply not the case.
In every study I have read thus far, pregnancy outcomes were more favorable in the groups of pregnant woman who participated in exercise vs. non-exercise. In one particular study, significant data included a shorter length of hospitalization, lower incidence of C-section, and an overall improved AGPAR score.
I have talked before about the hormonal response you will get from weightlifting and it relates directly to this current topic of pregnancy. If flooding your body with beneficial hormones like testosterone, HGH, and IGF-1 is beneficial without being pregnant, imagine the positive effects it will have on your baby. I am talking lifelong effects; things like a healthier birth weight, less chance for allergies, stronger bones, and possibly even a lowered risk of depression or other mental disorders. Some research has also shown that physical activity during pregnancy can help lower the risk of gestational diabetes.
If that isn’t enough for you, research has also shown that women who continue to train through their pregnancy put on less extra weight than those who do not exercise. Women who train through their pregnancy also have an easier time losing weight after the pregnancy. This is good information for all mothers who fear the extra weight that pregnancy may leave you with.
In closing, I am not suggesting that you hit your training with the same intensity you had during pre-pregnancy, but maintaining a modified version of your current training, under the eyes of an EXPERIENCED strength coach will help you and your child reap the benefits of proper strength training. Think about the long-term positive effects that your training will have on your child’s future.