I have been weightlifting 3 times a week for over a year. For my upper body, the maximum weight I lift is 70 pounds using machines, for my lower body the max I can do is 140 pounds using machines. My doctor doesn't want her patients to lift more than 20 pounds during pregnancy, which feels like lifting nothing to me. What are generally accepted safe levels of weight lifting, in terms of pounds, during pregnancy? - Rhonda in Texas
The expert answers
There really isn't a set of guidelines for weight lifting during
pregnancy other than letting comfort be your guide. Did your
doctor tell you why she was limiting the amount of weight you
could lift? Are you considered a high-risk pregnancy? Maybe her
guideline is meant for women who are just beginning a weight
lifting regimen instead of for women like you who have been
lifting for some time.
My recommendation, after getting clearance from your OB, is to pay very close attention to your body's signals: if something hurts, or feels uncomfortable, or pulls in any way, DON'T DO IT! Also, be very careful to continue breathing while you lift - no breath holding during pregnancy!
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that you'll naturally want to lower the amount of weight you use - your balance may be a little off, your joints may be loose, and you may fatigue more quickly. Don't view this as a cop-out but rather as your body's way of protecting that baby you're growing on the inside! You'll have plenty of time postpartum to re-build your strength and stamina. The goal during pregnancy is to maintain -- not increase -- fitness level.