Many women are told not to lift anything while they are pregnant. This is not true, while you should carry excessively heavy object while you are pregnant, you can still lift many things. Some people recommended that you should reduce your carrying load to 20 – 25% from pre-pregnancy to late pregnancy. This is different for every woman, as woman who rarely works out will be able to lift far less than a woman who is body builder. Lifting heavy loads puts you at more risk of causing injuries to your back rather than to your baby, however each pregnancy is different.
During pregnancy, you will pick up weight as your belly grows, this causes the lower back to typically increase its curve, and this will contributes to lower back pain in pregnant woman. The increase in weight also places increased forces over your joints such as your hips and knees, which can contribute to increased joint pain during pregnancy. Balance may be affected by the changes in your posture, which theoretically means you are at an increased risk of falling, however there is no research that shown the incidence of falling in woman who are pregnant is much higher than woman who are not pregnant.
As pregnancy progresses, all the hormones released into your system start to soften your ligament and tissues in your body, specifically around your pelvis. Theoretically this can also increase the possibility of sprains or strains in your body; research however doesn’t show a significant increase in injuries with pregnancy.
If you lift heavy objects in your job, you should be fine to continue with this during early pregnancy as you are used to lifting at work. As your pregnancy progresses, adjust the amount that you lift to what makes you feel comfortable. Remember, asking for help does mean that you are handicapped or incapacitated, it means that your priorities are correct and the health of yourself and your baby is top priority. If there is any doubt in your mind, ask your doctor.
Studies of woman who worked during pregnancy has shown that woman requiring high levels of activity, such as prolonged standing, frequent lifting, or climbing, made no difference to fetal growth. However, long hours of work reduced fetal growth. When long hours (>40 hours a week) are combined with high levels of activity, fetal growth is reduced even more. Some studies indicate that when lifting weights of 12kg or more, more than 50 times a week, can increase the risk of preterm birth, but this is only among women who stopped working before 32 weeks of pregnancy.
It is very, very important that you know how to lift objects properly. When lifting, try to make sure you are close to something that you can use as support if you need too, such as a wall or a desk. Squat down and try to hold the object as close to your body as you can, and lift up with your legs, not your back. You should be lifting in this way pregnant or not, bending at your hips and picking something up with your back will only lead to excessive strain on your back, and eventually, injuries will occur.
Make sure you hydrate sufficiently when lifting or exercising, drink lots of water, this is important to keep both yours, and the baby healthy and cool.