Exercise is a crucial part of a healthy pregnancy, and being in shape improves overall health and helps ease fatigue during labor and delivery. Sports may have been an important part of your life prior to pregnancy, but many sports and activities may not be that safe for pregnant women.
The basic rules of exercise during pregnancy
When choosing exercise during pregnancy, find an activity that increases heart rate to a moderate level without exhausting the body or increasing core body temperature too high. Take precautions when doing certain water activities. Elevated body temperature, whether from exercise or fever, is associated with an increased risk of birth defect. Also remember to:
- Avoid exercise with a high risk of falling.
- Avoid outside exercise on hot days.
- Avoid contact exercise, including contact sports.
- Avoid exercise at high altitudes.
Good sports/bad sports
When it comes to choosing good sports and bad sports for pregnant women there is a little leeway for female athletes. For instance, a woman who runs marathons regularly can stay active during pregnancy by running marathons, as long as there are no pregnancy complications. Starting your marathon training after finding out you are pregnant is not the best idea, especially if you have never tried a marathon prior to pregnancy.
- Good Sports: Running, jogging, swimming, walking, tennis, golf, cycling, and bowling. These sports tend to be relatively low impact or low risk of falling.
- Bad Sports: Football, skiing, skateboarding, rock climbing, roller skating, scuba diving, weightlifting, and mountaineering. These sports tend to be high-impact or high risk of falling.
Exceptions to the bad sports rule
Creating a straight list of good sports/bad sports is not as clean-cut as you may think. A woman who lifts weight regularly may be given permission by her obstetrician to lift during pregnancy. Typically, weight lifting, in moderation, is safe as long as there is no history of pregnancy complications or miscarriage. Your doctor or midwife will work with you to define your good sports/bad sports.
Some sports, on the other hand, are never safe during pregnancy. Scuba diving, for instance, requires depressurization of the body. The fetus cannot depressurize as well as an adult, and evidence shows an increased risk of fetal complications when a pregnant woman practices scuba diving during her pregnancy.
Sports are a great way to stay in shape and keep a healthy, lean body during pregnancy, but not all sports are safe. The general rules of safety are simple: if there is a high impact/risk of falling, skip the sport.
Dangerous sports are those with increased injury risk to the body. When trying to conceive and during pregnancy, you want your body well protected and you don't want to endanger the pregnancy. Some of these you may not find to be a problem, however, any activity that has an increased risk of bodily harm, in addition to injuring you, can also affect the pregnancy and potentially lead to complications such as fetal injury and preterm delivery, to name only a few.
Activities and sports during pregnancy
- Car Racing
- Hang Gliding
- High Altitude Activities
- Horseback Riding
- Hot Tubs
- Lifting Weights
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Rock Concerts
- Roller Coasters
- Roller Skating
- Scuba Diving
- Springboard Diving
- Water Rapids