Becoming a mother requires a lot of lifting, and I’m not talking about dumbbells. From carrying your kids, groceries, car seats, strollers, and a baby bump during pregnancy, being a mom requires a strong body.
For the past few years, mothers-to-be have been instructed to unload and not lift anything heavy during pregnancy, but that thinking is now changing quite the opposite. Unless there is a medical condition that does not require lifting, pregnant women and new moms not only benefit physically from pumping iron, but also mentally and emotionally.
That said, if you’re looking to conceive, are currently with a child, or are already a mom, now is the perfect time to strengthen your body and mind from head to toe with some good old-fashioned weightlifting.
(Always consult your physician/OBGYN before beginning any exercise program, especially if you are pregnant or have recently had a C-section.)
Here’s How To Determine If Lifting Weights During Pregnancy Is Right For You
“Particularly during pregnancy, there is a collective cultural concern about weight lifting, which could harm the health of the baby,” says Rachel Trotta, an NASM-certified personal trainer specializing in women’s fitness, prenatal and postnatal and nutrition. Fortunately, it’s quite the opposite.
“During pregnancy, the two best parameters we can use to assess the appropriateness of an exercise are the fitness level of the mother at the start of pregnancy and the health of the mother and baby at the current stage of pregnancy. “, explains Trotta. .
Simply put, if you followed a consistent pre-pregnancy weightlifting routine and are passing your doctor’s appointments with flying colors, “you will probably need to gradually reduce the weight as the pregnancy progresses, but you can keep training regularly at a relatively high level of difficulty,” says Trotta.
This will not only strengthen your current body, but also your postpartum self.
On the other hand, “if a woman wasn’t lifting weights before her pregnancy or she has a high-risk pregnancy, that nine-month window is not the right time to start,” Trotta says.
Keep in mind: “If a healthy and experienced pregnant weightlifter can effectively manage intra-abdominal pressure while lifting heavy loads (i.e. without using the Valsalva maneuver – a lifting technique in which you hold your breath while lifting to create more stability around the spine), there is no pelvic reason to stop weightlifting during pregnancy, especially if the weight is gradually reduced,” says Trotta.
Good news for moms who love lifting!
Lifting weights during pregnancy will set you up for success
We all know what it feels like after a good weight training session: accomplished, in a good mood and ready to face the day. However, lifting weights goes beyond body strength and increases “feel-good” hormones like serotonin. “The positive effects of weightlifting on mood, endocrine health, endurance, balance, and sheer strength are incredibly beneficial for a woman during pregnancy,” says Trotta.
“I remember when I was pregnant how my ‘bump’ got so incredibly heavy – it felt like I had a 30-pound slam ball strapped to the front of my body. Every activity, even stepping off the ground, became more and more difficult,” she recalls.
“The benefits of continuing to do squats, split squats, and deadlifts, even as the weights got lighter, were huge for my sense of self-efficacy; I never had any problems tying my shoes, shaving my legs or getting off the floor, and it was empowering,” she says.
So for those days when you don’t feel like lifting weights, keep in mind how much stronger you’ll be in the long run if you do.
Benefits of weightlifting after pregnancy for the high demands of being a new mom
There’s a reason mothers are called superheroes. “Once the baby is at the edge of the earth, new mothers are often blinded by the physical demands of new motherhood – carrying an eight-pound baby is surprisingly tiring, and doing repetitive things like picking your baby up off the floor or in a crib can stress your back, shoulders and hips,” says Trotta.
This is a solid reason why a solid pre-pregnancy can help relieve your body during pregnancy and even relieve overuse injuries.
“Being strong for new parenthood is a key benefit, reducing aches and pains and making things easier like rocking or bouncing your baby to sleep,” says Trotta.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be lifting weights the day after giving birth. Your body needs the proper time to rest and recover. both physically and mentally.
Embrace balance while you recover from childbirth
Sometimes resting isn’t the easiest thing for a new mom to do, but it’s a must for proper healing and a stronger body in the long run. “After pregnancy, we have to embrace balance, taking into account recovery. It’s not just tears and stitches, it’s also the complex and slow remodeling of your core and pelvic floor. Said Trotta. And that goes for women who consistently lifted pre-pregnancy and built a strong body for themselves.
“Even for a woman who has lifted weights before [and during] pregnancy, it’s wise to spend the first few months doing lots of walking, breathing exercises, mobility work and strategic strengthening,” says Trotta, encouraging new moms not to rush after birth. Over time, by taking care of your body and seeing a trained postpartum specialist, you’ll be back to your old routine before you know it.
“Lay the foundation for a solid return,” Trotta commands.
“Exercises like bridges, cat-cow, and dog-bird can feel very difficult postpartum if done with proper form and breathing,” says Trotta. (Check out this article on single-leg exercises, which will guide you through this as Trotta provides step-by-step instructions.)
You may get itchy, but it’s important to wait about six weeks after giving birth
If you’re a seasoned weightlifter, just starting out, or just have a weightlifting itch, it’s best to wait until at least six weeks after birth to introduce weightlifting.
“Although it takes about four to 12 months for the pelvic floor muscles to fully recover to (almost) pre-pregnancy dimensions (and that takes patience), most postpartum lifters find that starting at even moderate loads is difficult and satisfying after a break,” says Trotta. She continues, “Reintroducing the compound
movements like deadlifts, hip thrusts, squats and single leg work will quickly pay dividends in improving strength and quality of life.
Let’s talk post-baby exercise
Note that some exercises can put pressure on your pelvic floor (a very sensitive area at this stage that requires slow, responsible strengthening) if not performed correctly. But “exercises like squats and deadlifts can actually improve pelvic floor strength if done with proper technique and proper breathing,” says Trotta. “Doing a deadlift with a good exhale and pelvic floor contraction (with full pelvic release afterwards), or a front squat with good posture and breathing, is good for the pelvic floor, not harmful .”
However, getting stronger (with care) may require different techniques than you’re used to. “It’s important to note that doing resistance exercises with breathing, control, and self-awareness is different from weightlifting in a competitive, high-intensity fitness class,” Trotta says.
Listening to your body while strengthening your pelvic floor forces you to be in tune with your body like never before. “Promoting pelvic floor health while heavy lifting means listening to your body, being mindful of exercise selection, and gradually increasing intensity, through the fourth trimester and beyond,” says Trotta.
Plus, “it’s easy as a new parent to spend your life caring for a baby, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as your child gets older,” adds Trotta. “An empowering hobby like weightlifting, where you can enjoy the release of endorphins, the satisfaction of progress, and the connection to an identity outside of parenthood, is incredibly healthy for new moms.”