Summary of an article analyzing survey data from females lifting heavily during pregnancy.
679 females who lifted heavy (above 80% of their 1RM) throughout their pregnancy (international).
- urinary incontinence
- performing Valsalva maneuver during pregnancy
- performing supine lifting during pregnancy
- performing Olympic lifts during pregnancy
- Reproductive results of females lifting heavy were better or similar to the general population:
- complications reported by 34% during pregnancy and 20% after the pregnancy
- gestational hypertension 3%
- preeclampsia 3%
- gestational diabetes mellitus 1%
- 85% continued heavy weightlifting during pregnancy until delivery with 24% maintaining the same levels
- 72% engaged in Olympic weightlifting and 71% in supine (laying on the back) weightlifting, 34% performed Valsalva maneuvers
- those who maintained pre-pregnancy levels of training until delivery reported significantly fewer pregnancy and delivery complications in comparison to those who reduced their training
- urinary incontinence was experienced by 37% during pregnancy. Those who experienced urinary incontinence had lower 1RMs on some lifts but were not different (in training volume, engagement in Olympic lifting, Valsalva maneuver, or supine weightlifting) than the ones who did not experience urinary incontinence
- 65% spoke to their healthcare provider about weightlifting during pregnancy, and 61% were advised to continue heavy lifting with modification. Other sources of information included:
- pelvic floor physiotherapist 51%
- the internet 39%
- their coach 27%
- 89% returned to weightlifting on average 3.15±3 months after delivery. Reasons for not returning were:
- needing additional time to recover 40%
- not wanting to return 4%
- no time 23%
- those who engaged in Olympic weightlifting, Valsalva maneuver, and supine weightlifting during pregnancy were more likely to return to weightlifting and did it faster.
Take home message
Interview with the author of the original article
Christina Prevett is an orthopaedic and pelvic floor physiotherapist with PhD in exercise & aging. As a lifter, coach and mum herself she created @thebarbellmamas - an online programming for pregnant & postpartum CrossFitters, powerlifters & weightlifters. We talk about the influence of heavy weightlifting on pregnancy and postpartum outcomes for a mother and a baby.
Prevett C, Kimber ML, Forner L, de Vivo M, Davenport MH. Impact of heavy resistance training on pregnancy and postpartum health outcomes. International Urogynecology Journal. 2022 Nov 4:1-7.
You might want to read next
How many female weightlifters experience urinary incontinence?
How does weightlifting affect other parts of life?