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  #1  
Old 01-15-2008, 08:57 PM
Shera Shera is offline
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Why aren't pregnant women supposed to lift heavy things?

One of my co-workers just found out that she was pregnant and her doctor told her she couldn't lift anything heavy. I obviously don't mind carrying things for her, but today she asked if I knew why she couldn't? This seems like something she could probably ask her doctor, but I am curious too, so I thought I ask the Straight Dope. She is only eight weekd along and is not showing at all, so I can't imagine that it is a fear of dropping something on her tummy. There usually isn't any impact when lifting something, so I don't think it would be that either. Anyone have and answer?

Last edited by Shera; 01-15-2008 at 08:59 PM.. Reason: I swear I know how to spell PREGNANT.
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  #2  
Old 01-15-2008, 09:12 PM
pacific_smoke pacific_smoke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shera
One of my co-workers just found out that she was pregnant and her doctor told her she couldn't lift anything heavy. I obviously don't mind carrying things for her, but today she asked if I knew why she couldn't? This seems like something she could probably ask her doctor, but I am curious too, so I thought I ask the Straight Dope. She is only eight weekd along and is not showing at all, so I can't imagine that it is a fear of dropping something on her tummy. There usually isn't any impact when lifting something, so I don't think it would be that either. Anyone have and answer?
I think it's a peculiarity of developed countries that pregnant women are considered super fragile. In third world countries it's common to see pregnant women still doing serious physical work when they are about ready to drop their baby.

Our society exaggerates the fragility of pregnant women in our country, and ignores the weakness of pregnant women in other countries.
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  #3  
Old 01-15-2008, 09:20 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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No, it's not just cultural.

http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,5109,00.html
Quote:
It may surprise you to know that the risk of heavy lifting in pregnancy is not injury to the baby but injury to the mother. Pregnancy hormones cause your ligaments to soften, which helps your pelvis widen to make room for childbirth. As a result of having softer ligaments, your joints may be less stable than usual and injury may be more likely.
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  #4  
Old 01-15-2008, 11:34 PM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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We went though this when my wife was pregnant. In the later stages, it's a matter of balance as well.

There's also the issue that in older times or in third-world nations, women would / will typically start having children much younger, and will expect to have many more.

When you don't have as good of health care, and there are more babies and possibilites of babies, then there is more risk allowed.

In more developed countries, women are delaying childbirth, and having typically one or two children, so the amount of acceptable risk goes down considerably.
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  #5  
Old 01-15-2008, 11:39 PM
Shera Shera is offline
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Even if you are only eight weeks along though? Do the hormones start that early? Loose ligaments does make sense, I just didn't know that pelvis loosening hormones would start pumping that early in pregnancy.

ETA: It's obvious that I have never been pregnant, but I am planning to in the near future, which is why I am curious.

Last edited by Shera; 01-15-2008 at 11:40 PM..
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  #6  
Old 01-16-2008, 04:12 AM
kambuckta kambuckta is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacific_smoke

Our society exaggerates the fragility of pregnant women in our country, and ignores the weakness of pregnant women in other countries.
Absolutely.

What most 'experts' fail to acknowledge is that many mothers are doing it the second and third time around.....are they not allowed to pick up their own littlies while pregnant??

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  #7  
Old 01-16-2008, 05:26 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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I think that might be a slightly premature reaction on behalf of your co-worker and/or her doctor if she doesn't have a history of pregnancies with a poor outcome. Still, who wants to be the person who tells the pregnant girl she should be doing something herself only to have her miscarry later? Some people do seem to play on it a bit, but I guess "Better safe than sorry" isn't a terrible motto at such a time.

At eight weeks I had no problem lifting, but as time wore on I learned to be a little more careful. I don't get a warning that something's too heavy and causing strain, it simply goes from "no pain" to "ye Gods, that hurts!". I did have near-constant stomach pains for the first 18 or so weeks that I believe were caused by things starting to stretch and expand so it made sense to me that muscles that were already under pressure couldn't handle the extra load. Last week at work I had pain after lifting a printer that wasn't terribly heavy; it was light enough that I was surprised when it hurt - but my father pointed out that I have to carry things so much further in front of my body now. I know he was kidding around, but that make actually be a valid point.

There are three pregnant women where I work (myself and two others), and we're all due within the space of six weeks. One refused to climb ladders, lift anything or bend from pre-12 weeks. One, at 28 weeks, still does everything she used to do. I (31 weeks) do things until my body lets me know I need to slow down - I stopped climbing ladders around week 20 when I felt wobbly on my feet, I won't carry large heavy items at all, or medium weight items over large distances, but I will have a go at lighter stuff (to the disapproval of some of my other co-workers, who think I should be sitting in a chair lifting nothing heavier than a pen). But each person needs to make the call for themselves, as no one else knows what you're experiencing like you do. Perhaps someone who was in better shape pre-pregnancy wouldn't have the same muscular cramps that I have now, perhaps for someone else they might be worse. It's impossible to say.
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  #8  
Old 01-16-2008, 07:45 AM
monavis monavis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shera
One of my co-workers just found out that she was pregnant and her doctor told her she couldn't lift anything heavy. I obviously don't mind carrying things for her, but today she asked if I knew why she couldn't? This seems like something she could probably ask her doctor, but I am curious too, so I thought I ask the Straight Dope. She is only eight weekd along and is not showing at all, so I can't imagine that it is a fear of dropping something on her tummy. There usually isn't any impact when lifting something, so I don't think it would be that either. Anyone have and answer?
I do not know the health of the woman involved,but I did a lot of lifting during all my pregnacies, with my 6th child I did a lot of remodling work on a rental house, every one was telling me I was going to have a lot of problems. I had the child with no labor to speak of( I left the house at 9:30 and had the Child at ten to ten getting off the elevator, and I had a very healthy baby. The nurses asked if I was an American indian or an Indian Indian. 2 days later I stained and painted the house. I cut grass etc. I believe a lot depends on what a person does before they are expecting. Each person is different.

The doctor would be the best person to answer this for her.

Monavis
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  #9  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:12 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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There are other issues, here, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shera
One of my co-workers just found out that she was pregnant and her doctor told her she couldn't lift anything heavy.
Just conjecture, but...would it be more correct to say, "One of my co-workers just found out that she was pregnant and came in and told us that her doctor told her she couldn't lift anything heavy?"

The difference being, of course, that what she was doing was not merely reporting an obstetrical tidbit, but that she was officially informing her workplace, "My doctor says I can't lift anything."
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Old 01-16-2008, 11:14 AM
Shera Shera is offline
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She was originally about 98lbs. She says she has now gained about 5lbs so that would make her around 103lbs now. I wonder if here size has anything to do with it.
She is not the one that is opposed to lifting, her doctor told her not to. This is her first pregnancy
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  #11  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:15 AM
MLS MLS is offline
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FWIW, I was in the middle trimester of my second pregnancy, when I picked something up out of my car trunk and felt a "pop" inside. I started leaking. A couple days later the miscarriage was complete. Now, there may have been no cause and effect there at all, just a coincidence, something that would eventually have happened anyway. But then again, there might have been.

As my doctor told me when I asked about a previously-planned trip to Japan during my first pregnancy, "Why take a chance? Japan will still be there next year."

Obviously YMMV, ask the real doctor, etc.
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  #12  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:17 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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If she has an incompetent cervix, the lifting restriction is certainly a smart thing to do. Eventually the doc will put in a circlage (a suture closing off the uterus) to try to prevent miscarriage in that sort of case, but that's done later in the pregnancy as a rule.
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  #13  
Old 01-16-2008, 11:18 AM
Shera Shera is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
There are other issues, here, too.

Just conjecture, but...would it be more correct to say, "One of my co-workers just found out that she was pregnant and came in and told us that her doctor told her she couldn't lift anything heavy?"

The difference being, of course, that what she was doing was not merely reporting an obstetrical tidbit, but that she was officially informing her workplace, "My doctor says I can't lift anything."
She was in fact, merely informing me of an obstericlal tidbit. I happened to helping her with something else at the time, when the conversation came up. My mother is and OB nurse and she thought I might know why.
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  #14  
Old 01-16-2008, 03:10 PM
cbawlmer cbawlmer is offline
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A relative of mine once intentionally induced a miscarriage (in the pre-Roe v. Wade days) by lifting and carrying a lot of heavy boxes during a move.
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  #15  
Old 01-17-2008, 12:04 AM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cazzle
Last week at work I had pain after lifting a printer that wasn't terribly heavy; it was light enough that I was surprised when it hurt - but my father pointed out that I have to carry things so much further in front of my body now. I know he was kidding around, but that make actually be a valid point.
Note that pregnancy will also change the angle of your pelvis, which will affect body mechanics throughout your entire body.

I work out in a Pilates studio that has pregnant clients on a regular basis. Even when the women have been doing Pilates for a while and are in good shape, by the time they're starting to show a bump most of them are already having to modify their technique.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:43 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbawlmer
A relative of mine once intentionally induced a miscarriage (in the pre-Roe v. Wade days) by lifting and carrying a lot of heavy boxes during a move.
Hmmmmmm...one never likes to say "absolutely no way" but some of this tale may have grown in the telling.

As QtM points out, an abnormally soft cervix does increase the risk of spontaneous abortion, especially later in the pregnancy, since any lifting increases the intrabdominal pressure, and that increase in pressure is transmitted to the uterus and its content. Perhaps the pregnant woman referenced in the OP was felt by her OB to have a softer-than-normal cervix. While it's too early for cerclage right now, the OB may be advising caution even in the early stages.
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  #17  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:12 PM
cbawlmer cbawlmer is offline
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Chief Pedant: It happened. I don't know the mechanics of it, but she did strenuous moving-related work, including lots of heavy lifting, until she started bleeding and correctly assumed she'd achieved the intended result.
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  #18  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:30 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacific_smoke

Our society exaggerates the fragility of pregnant women in our country, and ignores the weakness of pregnant women in other countries.
I suspect it is partly because of our cushy lifestyle compared to 3rd world countries that also is a factor. we normally don't do heavy lifting, they do and are used to it. If we have to do it when weakened it has a greater chance of causing injury then someone who does it often. Just look at all the people here that keel over when they have to shovel snow.

Come to think of it is there any 3rd world country that gets snow?
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  #19  
Old 01-17-2008, 02:33 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbawlmer
Chief Pedant: It happened. I don't know the mechanics of it, but she did strenuous moving-related work, including lots of heavy lifting, until she started bleeding and correctly assumed she'd achieved the intended result.
Didn't mean to doubt that she had a miscarriage after heavy lifting; that would not be unusual if the cervix is incompetent and it's later in the pregnancy--hence the cautionary advice in the OP.

The part that sounds a bit embellished is the way the story makes it sound like a deliberate technique with the pre RvW complication layered on top, as opposed to a fortuitous event since the pregnancy was unwanted.

Perhaps one in a hundred pregnancies might need a cerclage; it's not a good strategy to lift heavy stuff in the hope of precipitating a miscarriage.

Still, if it happened that way, it happened that way.
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  #20  
Old 01-17-2008, 02:44 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Pedant
Perhaps one in a hundred pregnancies might need a cerclage; it's not a good strategy to lift heavy stuff in the hope of precipitating a miscarriage.
Well, neither is purposefully falling down stairs or getting your boyfriend to punch you repeatedly in the abdomen, but I've counseled girls who have intentionally induced "spontaneous" abortions that way. *shudder*
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  #21  
Old 01-17-2008, 03:33 PM
cbawlmer cbawlmer is offline
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That's what I meant though -- it was intentional. I assume somebody told her heavy lifting might cause a miscarriage, and something she did that day clearly worked. I don't know how far along she was at the time.
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  #22  
Old 01-19-2008, 06:46 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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Who says they're not?

Shut up and get back to loading coal and stop whining.

If you feel your waters break you can take your tea break.
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