When you think of fitness during pregnancy or postpartum, what do you think of?
Do you think of yoga? Walking? Swimming? No doubt, these are great forms of exercise, but they are not the “be-all”.
There are endless options for exercise during pregnancy or postpartum and yoga, walking and swimming are just three of them.
In my coaching practice, I prescribe strength training.
In my humble opinion, strength training is an essential ingratiate for an active pregnancy and a strong postpartum recovery. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
1) Increase muscle mass and improve bone density
Preconception, during pregnancy or after you baby is born, strength training provides the necessary stimulas to increase muscle mass and improve bone density.
2) Improve stability and reduce injury risk
While you are pregnant and breastfeeding, you might feel extra flexible or notice decreased stability in some of your joints.
Targeted strength training will help improve stability around your joints to counteract some of that extra looseness or instability.
3) Minimize movement and postural compensations to pregnancy
We all know that pregnancy can significantly impact both our posture and our movement patterns.
Strategic strength training (some might say, corrective exercise) is a great way to correct postural changes or restore movement patterns that are impacted during your childbearing year.
4) Build a foundation for a strong postpartum recovery
Strength training will help you build a foundation for impact and intensity later.
You might begin your postpartum rehab with heel slides and glute bridges, but soon you’ll be able to ramp up intensity and sports specificity as your body is able to tolerate it.
Strength training can help you train for where you want to be (even if it’s just a vehicle to get you there).
5) Comfort, comfort, comfort
Many of the common body aches and inconveniences of pregnancy and postpartum (back pain, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence) can be managed or avoided with a good core- and pelvic-floor informed strength routine.
Which ties closely in to:
6) Maintain or improve core and pelvic floor function
Your core and pelvic floor need to be strong to support your body during pregnancy and during your return to higher impact activities.
Combining breath work with strength training can help maintain, improve or retrain the “reflexive” action of your core and pelvic floor.
Studies have shown that people who build greater full body strength also have an easier time managing their intra-abdominal pressure during activity.
Improved pressure management strategies may decrease your risk of developing a pelvic floor or core dysfunction or help you recover from one if you have an existing issue.
Is it safe to strength train and lift weights during pregnancy and postpartum?
In the absence of a medical contraindication, yes.
You can absolutely lift weights while pregnant and as you recover postpartum.
If this is surprising to you, consider this:
Whether you lift weights in an exercise session or not, you are lifting stuff day in and day out.
You might as well train for it.
Strength training is smart training for postpartum (and pregnancy too!). It comes with a ton of benefits and a (qualified) postnatal fitness coach can help you learn strategies to train safely for your stage of pregnancy or postpartum.
If you’re looking for guidance in navigating your exercise during pregnancy, I offer one-on-one personal training and consultations. Please send me a message to set up a free Meet and Greet to discuss your goals and how I can help you achieve them!
Harness control of your pelvic floor and feel stronger in your workouts. Download a FREE copy of The No B.S. Guide to a Stronger, Drier Pregnancy and Postpartum.
My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.
Laura Jawad holds a PhD and a personal training certification (NASM). She’s a proud Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach and Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach. You can check out the rest of her alphabet soup here.