Weightlifting While Pregnant: Risky Behavior, or Totally Safe?

weightlifting while pregnantDid you exercise during your pregnancy? If so, did you lift weights?

For some, this idea seems preposterous. Won’t that exertion hurt your unborn baby, cause cervical problems, or send you into early labor?

Others believe that exercise, including weightlifting, can help improve blood flow, energy, and sleep, as well as increase your chance for a shorter, less painful child-birthing experience.

So, on which side of the fence do you lie?

Exercise during pregnancy benefits both mother and child, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Lee-Ann Ellison is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom. She is also eight months pregnant with her third child and an avid participant of Crossfit classes. When she emailed a selfie to the Crossfit company, the photo, which clearly displayed her success story, photo was posted on its Facebook page.

And the ruthless comments from critics soon followed. They poured in with their thunder and lightning, saying things like, “This is a good way to lose your baby”; and “Sorry lady, not safe. Baby first, sanity second”; and “I do not find this impressive at all. No one would post a picture of themselves drinking a beer while eight months pregnant. Risky behavior while pregnant is no laughing matter.”

Doesn’t exercise reduce your chances of C-section and high birth weight? Doesn’t exercise improve your pregnancy mood and help you to have a healthier pregnancy in general?

But, at what point does exercise during pregnancy turn from beneficial to harmful? According to the article, “many doctors point to pregnancy exertion as the cause of cervical problems and preterm labor, and public opinion is divided on whether women who continue to hit the gym during pregnancy are selfishly harming their unborn babies.”

Ellison spoke out against the haters, saying, “I was really shocked by the reaction to my photos since I've always exercised during my two previous pregnancies and doctors have assured me that my routine is safe for both myself and my child. However, the minute the photo was posted online, I received an onslaught of comments from men and women telling me that pregnancy is no time to be tough and that I’m vain and selfish. It's surprising that something I've always done — and consider normal — is shocking to so many people.

Ellison, who has gained 23 pounds of pregnancy weight, went on to say, “I used to take CrossFit classes five days a week, but lately, I’ve scaled back to three times. What bothers me most about all this backlash is that there are so many pregnant women who eat poorly and don't exercise at all during their pregnancies. There is an obesity epidemic in this country. What about that?”


The Crossfit program can be pretty intense, regardless of one being pregnant or not. It mixes aerobic activity with weight training and lots of core conditioning, and can cause many participants to feel overly exhausted. However, if you were exercising in this manner before you conceived, you should be fine to continue this method throughout your pregnancy – as long as you listen to your body and slow down as your body tells you to. If you don’t listen to your body, you are definitely risking harm to yourself and your unborn baby.

Do you take any Crossfit classes? Would you continue this program throughout your pregnancy?

What do you think?

Weightlifting While Pregnant: Risky Behavior, or Totally Safe?

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. maribadi says:

    What people don’t realize is that if you have a great coach/instructor, these exercises are perfectly safe. I Crossfit, and do cardio kickboxing, and I’m currently 14 weeks pregnant. I follow some very basic rules while training. I don’t lift more than is comfortable, I am not going for any PR’s or fastest times, just there to get my blood flowing and heart going a bit. I constantly check myself with the conversation test, if I can have a conversation, I’m going at about the right pace. Which is much different than my non-pregnancy workout days. Everything in moderation. Plus, as many people have stated, so many women use this time to slack off, eat a ton, and put on unhealthy amounts of weight. And it’s socially acceptable, the whole eating for two, and taking it easy. But it’s not healthy for mom or baby. People need to educate themselves before bashing healthy moms. Also what people don’t realize about Crossfit weights, is that they are bumper weights. So all plates that go on the barbell are the exact same circumference, from 10lbs to 45 lbs, they just vary in thickness and density. People are used to seeing the gym weights where the smaller weights are also smaller in size. Also the barbells themselves vary from 15lbs to 45lbs, unlike at the gym where they are all 45lbs. So when people see these big weights on a barbell in the pictures, they assume she is lifting a lot of weight. It could be as little as 30lbs. You wouldn’t tell a pregnant mother not to lift her 30 lbs toddler would you?

  2. Kayla says:

    I think it is safe to workout while pregnant as long as you don’t over do it. Im 21 an when i was pregnant with my son who is now 18months old i worked out, worked, an took care of my sisters 3 kids (11,10,4 at the time) so i was always moving. Working out helped me have a compleatly natural labor an delivery an my son was 8.1lbs an 21 1/4 inches long. so if some one wants to work out let them all because some people want to be over weight does not mean everyone has to be

  3. Grace says:

    i think that if her doctor okayd it- and as long as she does exercises that are not intrusive to her belly, and if she has a spotter, why not…. they say that it is an old wives tale lifting over your head…


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