icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
Lifting During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, many women are concerned about how much weight they can lift—whether free weights at the gym, objects they need to move around the house or children requesting a “pick-me-up” from Mom.

In fact, the number of pounds you can lift during pregnancy depends on your level of physical fitness and the method you use to lift an object.

For example, some of my physically fit patients continue to lift weights in the gym throughout their pregnancy. But these athletic women have had lots of training. They’re capable of lifting more weight than women without training. However, even for fit women, it’s advisable to lower the amount of weight lifted and focus on increasing repetitions as pregnancy progresses.

Although there’s no set limit on the amount of weight that can be lifted in pregnancy, hormonal changes during pregnancy make the body more vulnerable to injury. Pregnancy hormones cause your ligaments to soften, increasing the risk of injury to joints during lifting and other physical activities. In general, you’ll be most likely to avoid back injury if you contract your abdominal muscles when you lift. However, abdominal muscles stretch as the uterus grows, reducing the body’s ability to provide support to your spine.

To avoid back injury while lifting, use the technique below.
  • Use your legs to help you lift. These are the strongest muscles in your body.
  • Stand as close as you can to the object you wish to lift.
  • Bend your knees to lower yourself to the level of the object.
  • Tighten the muscles of your abdomen as you begin to lift.
  • Continue to breathe as you lift, and if the object feels too heavy, don’t lift it.
  • If the object does not feel too heavy, bring the load as close to your body as you can.
  • Move slowly and deliberately as you carry the object to its destination.
  • Bend your knees as you set the object down.
  • Do all of the above steps carefully and with awareness.
  • Don’t twist your spine while you lift.
If you’re pregnant and already a mom, one of the most important bundles you’ll be lifting is your child. It’s important to follow the above guidelines when you lift your child. I injured my own back once just by reaching over a crib railing to lift up my daughter. If I had lowered the railing first, avoided twisting, brought her close to my body and followed all of the above steps, I might have prevented an injury.

Remember, when engaging in any kind of physical activity, including lifting, it’s important to listen to your body. If something feels uncomfortable or causes strain, it’s best to stop doing it.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist