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Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you don’t have chores to do and things to carry. But what about heavy lifting? Is it safe during pregnancy?

It’s not lifting one time that’s an issue. If you lift something once, you may hurt your back, but it doesn’t hurt the baby. The problem is when you do it over and over again. Is it safe during pregnancy? Not really. Research shows that pregnant women in jobs that require a lot of frequent lifting and twisting, like those on an assembly line, have a higher incidence of preterm delivery.

In general, if you are feeling fine while working then picking up an occasional box is OK. Getting exhausted can be a sign that you are exerting yourself more than you and the baby can handle. If your job requires frequent heavy lifting, talk with your manager about light duty work—and talk with your doctor or midwife so you know the specific recommendations for you. Your pregnancy health and the health of your growing fetus is the priority.

Here are a few tips for safely lifting a heavy object:

  • Lift from your legs. Squat down and use your legs to bear much of the weight as you stand up.
  • Don’t lean over. Bending over as you lift puts all the stress of the weight on your back, which is not safe for your back, if nothing else!
  • Ask someone to help. Back pain in pregnancy is common enough without bringing it on yourself. This is no time to be proud; ask for help whenever possible— particularly if you already have been experiencing back pain.
  • If you have other children, ask them to do the job by climbing onto your lap so you don’t have to bend over and do the lifting.