Weightlifting While Pregnant Debate

Lee-Ann Ellison, a California mother of three, sparked a huge controversy when she posted some pictures on her Crossfit Facebook page.  What was the problem?  Well, she was lifting heavy weights and is 8 months pregnant.  This is the picture that went viral:

Lee-Ann Ellison - Facebook
Lee-Ann Ellison – Facebook

The picture was shared over 2,000 times and most of the comments were positive:  “Beautiful,” “Inspiring,” “You go, girl!” Others questioned if this was a safe choice to make on behalf of her baby.

This topic is of particular interest for me because not one, but three women on my bodybuilding team, Mel’s Machines, are pregnant.  That includes our trainer, Melissa.  Two other women on the team recently gave birth.  One of them exercised until the week she delivered and competed on stage in the figure division while her baby was barely seven months old.  Wow!

Mel and Ashley - Baby Bumps
Mel and Ashley – Baby Bumps

They all lift weights and have been for a while.  If the weight seems to heavy they go lighter.  Some exercises are modified; others (like sit ups) are avoided and their babies are doing great.

Anyway, I’ve renamed our team Mel’s Baby Making Machines.  Now, not to brag here, but I personally exercised never when I was pregnant with my two kids, which is probably why I gained an extra 50 lbs. (Hey, we can’t all be overachievers, right?)

Here are a couple common sense points to be made:

  • Always start by talking to your doctor. Many are supportive of exercise during pregnancy if you don’t have any medical issues.

    Fit Mama
    Fit Mama
  • If you’ve never lifted weights before, pregnancy is not the ideal time to start.  The women above have been doing this for awhile and have good form.  If you are new to exercise, you may want to work with a trainer who has worked with pregnant women and/or stick to lighter exercises.
  • Be aware of your body.  As noted in the New York Times, “Dr. Daniel Roshan, an assistant professor at New York University Medical School and a maternal fetal medicine specialist, said pregnant women should be careful not to push their heart rates above 140 beats per minute or raise their body temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The goal is to avoid exercising to exhaustion.”  (NY Times: Pregnant Weight Lifter Stirs Debate)Mel and Ashley
  • Don’t feel pressured to do what other women are doingThis is your pregnancy and your baby.  If you are healthy and your doctor says it’s ok to workout, don’t worry what other people think.  Conversely, if you just don’t feel comfortable exercising right now, relax!  It’s not like all the gyms in the world are going to disappear in the next nine months.  If the women above serve as examples that you can exercise during pregnancy, I can serve as evidence that you can also lose the post-baby weight even if your only exercise during pregnancy was lifting your fork.

What about you?  What do you think about pregnant women lifting weights?

Lisa 😉

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12 thoughts on “Weightlifting While Pregnant Debate

  1. If you even contemplate doing some weights during pregnancy then you are doing well. Personally I would not like to see it in my gym, because they might injure themselves or their unborn child lifting weights. Leave it until after the birth ladies, go for a walk instead

    1. Hi Ivan – I can appreciate your concern for the pregnant woman and her baby, especially considering your own new baby. (Congrats, again!) I think if the doctor and the woman agree that it’s right for her, than exercise is fine, beneficial even.

  2. I have never been preggers, but I think if your doctor gives you the green light, you are feeling good and listening to your body, is there any harm? I should think not. My mom was scrubbing floors and pots when her water broke with me and I turned out fine. Er, ok, scrap that. Bed rest preggos!

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