Can I lift heavy weights when I’m pregnant?

Emmy Samtani

Emmy Samtani

Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones. Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor on all things parenthood.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 3 mins read
Can I lift heavy weights when I’m pregnant?

Before you became pregnant there were countless things you could do, from playing contact sports to eating sushi. Now, there are plenty of actions that are restricted, even the amount of weight you should pick up and how. If you’re used to crushing heavyweights in the gym or exerting more effort at work, you might need to reconsider.

What heavy lifting might do to you during pregnancy?

Getting injured while pregnant is definitely the last thing you want. However, as your body is growing and changing to create a new life, it becomes more sensitive and fragile.

Your ligaments and joints are loosening to prepare for birth, so your muscles are more prone to cramping or injury. On top of that, as your centre of gravity shifts, your balance isn’t as strong. When this happens you’re far more likely to fall which can be dangerous.

The main concern with lifting heavy weights is that injury could lead to preterm labour or general joint and back pain. Some studies determine that the risks for miscarriage are also higher.

All of these outcomes are frightening, so the best option is to have someone else do the lifting for you, where possible. There isn’t a direct link to harm from lifting objects but the possibility for injury is definitely higher when you do. Pulling your back alone will force you to stay in bed which will keep you from doing all of the things you need/want to do before the birth. Better safe than sorry!

If you do lift weights, here’s what you should do…

As with everything else, definitely check with your doctor for their medical advice. They could tell you that some lifting is perfectly safe for you, especially if you have done so prior to being pregnant. It’s ultimately based on each individual.

Either way, a general rule of thumb is that women can safely lift up to 16 kgs until 20 weeks of pregnancy. After 20 weeks you should only lift around 11 kgs. Lifting weights at a gym is another story. If you’re repeatedly lifting for less than an hour the weight will go down to 13 kgs up to 20 weeks, and 10 kgs after.

Ultimately, it all depends on your levels of exercise and activity before pregnancy. If you are used to lifting weights frequently, you’ll be able to exercise a bit more than someone who didn’t. Figuring out what works best for your body is something you and your doctor can determine.

How to safely lift

If you are going to lift some weight, always keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Your back must be straight
  • Bend from your knees
  • Put the weight and force on your legs, not your back
  • Exhale as you lift
  • Don’t carry the object away from your body – always hold it close!
  • If at any point you notice some strain, don’t keep carrying it

No matter how much you want to maintain your physical abilities, sometimes it’s better to sit one out. If you have to/don’t want to give up your activities, talk to your doctor and always be cautious.

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