Staying active through your pregnancy keeps you and your baby healthy and might make labor and delivery easier. Not all forms of exercise are safe while you're pregnant, however, but lifting dumbbells is a good choice for upper body strength. During pregnancy, lifting weights is safe for women who already engage in a regular routine, Tracey Mallet, fitness expert, told Baby Center in 2008. If you are new to weights, talk to your obstetrician before beginning a dumbbell routine.
While lifting dumbbells is likely safe for most women during pregnancy, following safety precautions is important for preventing injuries and protecting your baby's health. During pregnancy, your body produces more of the hormone relaxin, which loosens your joints and ligaments. Using dumbbells that are too heavy may result in injuries for this reason. In general, the Baby Center website suggests decreasing the pound load of your dumbbells, but increasing the number of repetitions in your routine. During your second and third trimester, blood flow increases and Mallet advises using dumbbells while sitting down to prevent you from feeling dizzy as you lift them. Avoid doing any moves that require you to lie flat on your back, which may interfere with blood flow to your baby, and use extreme caution to prevent the dumbbell from hitting your stomach.
Dumbbells are useful for a number of exercises, but not all are good choices during pregnancy. Lateral raises, seated rows, squats and dumbbell shrugs are good options. These moves challenge the muscles in your arms, shoulders and back, keeping them strong through your pregnancy. Cut your weight load in half and double your repetitions. For example, if you typically do 8 to 10 repetitions with 6-pound dumbbells, switch to 3-pound dumbbells and do 16 to 20 repetitions of each exercise in your routine. Aim to include such a strength-training session in your workout routine two or three times each week.
Lifting dumbbells during pregnancy increases flexibility, improves strength and helps burn calories for weight control. This makes it easier to carry the extra baby weight. A regular dumbbell routine may also help combat back pain associated with pregnancy and helps condition your body for labor and delivery.
When to Stop
Certain conditions might indicate a pregnancy complication, making it necessary to stop. If you experience bleeding, pain your stomach, a headache or difficulty breathing, contact your obstetrician. If lifting dumbbells brings on contractions, stop right away and seek medical care, particularly if it is still early in your pregnancy. In general, follow your body's cues. If you feel too tired to lift or you experience pain or discomfort, it is likely that you're overdoing it and should ease up on your routine.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.