Thursday, 11 June 2015

Pregnant and Powerlifiting

Hello My Loves

I have been powerlifting for over a year now.  I started powerlifting when I got myself a personal trainer due to back pain.  After 2 separate accidents, my lower back was weak and I had disc problems.  I got a personal trainer and what he recommended is that I strengthen my back through the use of weights.

 Lifting at 23 weeks pregnant

I wasn't sure exactly what he meant, but went on a gut feeling and trusted him and his training. Soon enough, he had me in the intimidating weights section of the gym with all the big muscly scary body builder types (95% men). I felt like I didn't belong there and someone would shout at me to get out and stop using their equipment! Genuinely I felt really intimidated even though I am a really confident type of person.

After a few weeks and after mastering the technique for squating, deadlifting and engaging my core and glutes, I started to feel like I really belonged in the weights section of the gym.  I started to feel stronger, not just physically but mentally. A transformation had come about.

I wasn't just the 5 foot 'little woman' anymore (all in my head of course, no one else thought that), but I was a weight lifter. Slowly and under the extremely watchful (and critical) eye of my trainer, we started making the weights heavier and heavier and over the course of a year, my back pain drastically reduced to non existent and I was nearly at the point of lifting twice my body weight.  A huge goal for me.

I was getting married and knew that I wanted to start a family once we had tied the knot. I wasn't really sure how this would affect me lifting weights and if it was safe or not.  So when I got pregnant, I thought long and hard about continuing weight training. My beautiful baby was the most important thing, but I also wanted to continue to be fit and healthy, because if I'm fit and healthy, then my baby is. I wanted to continue having a strong body to cope with the demands of pregnancy and labour.

There is really a huge lack of information in regards to women powerlifting when pregnant. Huge. One doctor told me not to lift anything at all, not grocery shopping, nothing even remotely with weight.  I asked her what would happen when I got pregnant the second time and had a toddler that I would need to lift while pregnant.  No answer!

So I started researching the blogs of women who actually had lifted throughout their pregnancy and there I found the best advice. These ladies had been through pregnancy and delivered their healthy babies. They had come full circle being pregnant and lifting.

Their experience was that it really helped them during pregnancy. It helped deal with back ache, with muscle pain, it kept them fit and healthy and it gave them great deliveries.  A lot without medication and most of them were speedy deliveries.  They said to just listen to your body, don't over-exert yourself but to continue with what you had been doing for a long time before being pregnant.

Then I met a great maternity doctor. He advised me to continue with the weights, but to watch the actual weight itself and lower if necessary. He advised that I continue with planks as my abs would be what helped my body push my baby out and I would need these strong for labor.  He was really really great and I felt he was totally on my level.  He asked me what my diet was like and I told him and he said I am getting so much great nutrients every day through my foods that even if I wanted to stop taking the pregnancy supplement I was originally told to take I could. It was my choice (I continued to take the supplement, because it was doing me no harm to take it).

So, I lowered my weights a good bit, but continued to squat and deadlift. Bench pressing is out when pregnant as its not meant to be great for pregnancy to exercise flat on the back.  But we have done modifications around this.  I told my trainer I wanted to get focused on my upper arms especially as I would need to lift a growing  baby and I would need to lift buggies and car seats etc.

It really has been a marvellous few months doing my powerlifting while pregnant. Sometimes, I slowly increase the weights and squats and deadlifts, but some weeks I stick.  Some weeks I have ligament pain and the odd week I have felt kinda tired and on those days we drop the weights. In otherwards I'm listening to my body.

At nearly 6 months pregnant, I have had the most amazing pregnancy so far. I have energy, I have had no sickness at all, I have no crazy cravings, I have no mad hormonal surges.  I sleep fantastic, a good 9-10 hours every single night. I eat really clean food during the week, but I have my indulgence at the weekends.  My baby is healthy and strong.  I feel him moving and kicking throughout the day. Watching my bump grow is one of the greatest achievements I have had to date.

So ladies, this article is not to tell anyone else what to do.  Every pregnancy is different and every woman is different.  I just wanted to share my experiences of lifting when pregnant. I am not a doctor, and have no claim to be one, nor am I a personal trainer or fitness expert.  But I am just sharing my story of how lifting when pregnant has really helped me have a brilliant pregnancy.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Love, Mini

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