A Comprehensive Guide to Playing Sports During Pregnancy

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pregnant women

Getting involved in some kind of sporting activity is always a welcome move. In fact, more and more youngsters are signing up for some form of physical activity wherein they get to spend at least a few hours a week physically exerting themselves. Should this change when a woman is  pregnant? In this article, we aim to give you a comprehensive guide on how you can keep going with your sporting activity without causing any harm to yourself and your unborn child. Before we begin, please understand that you need to consult with your doctor before resuming with or starting any new physical activities.

Benefits of being physically active during pregnancy

  • Prevents excess weight gain
  • Improves mood, self image, energy levels and blood circulation
  • Reduces labour time
  • Reduces constipation and bloating
  • Reduces incidents of pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Reduces risk of gestational diabetes

What affects your ability to play sports when you’re pregnant?

Being pregnant takes a huge physical toll on your body. The hormonal changes your body goes through can affect the way your body responds to changes. This can hinder your ability to play football, basketball, tennis and other sports where you need to respond immediately to changes. Another factor to consider is that the weight gain due to pregnancy will shift your body’s center of gravity, making you more susceptible to losing balance due to jerks and bounces. Also, the ligaments in your pelvic area will begin to loosen. Therefore, it is crucial that you do not engage in sports which require you to move around and respond to actions very frequently.

When to avoid playing sports?

  • If you have bone and joint problems.
  • If you suffer from pregnancy related issues like placenta previa or hypertension. Once again, we strongly recommend that you consult your gynecologist before taking up any kind of physical activity.
  • If you are carrying more than one child
  • If you suffer from any health conditions pertaining to vital organs like the heart, brain, lungs, kidney and liver.
  • If your BMI is too low or too high.
  • If your child was conceived through fertility treatments.

What kind of sports should you avoid?

Sports involving high chances of falling down and hitting your bump – football, basketball, squash etc.

Sports which require to you climb high altitude or dive downhill – hiking, scuba diving (these are not sports but physical activities which should be avoided at all costs).

Sports which require you to constantly jump or bounce – horse riding, surfing, volleyball, jumping ropes.

Sports which involves repeated twists and turns of your body – tennis, badminton.

Preparing yourself for physical exertion during pregnancy

During your first trimester, you can play sports like swimming which prevents your body from overheating. Ensure that you don’t swim in hot and humid conditions. In your second and third trimester, your body will be gaining significant amounts of weight. Like we mentioned earlier, this can make you feel unbalanced. If it gets too much, stop playing sports and take it easy till your child is born. You will also notice that your blood pressure decreases at times – make sure that  you stop any physical activities when that happens. If the situation worsens, contact your doctor immediately.

Things to keep in mind

  • Wear loose clothes
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid playing in extreme temperatures or high altitude
  • Never play in an empty stomach

Recommended sports for pregnant women

Considering everything we have mentioned above, water sports like water aerobics and swimming are great options for you to choose from. However, ensure that the quality of the water you are swimming in is good so that you don’t contract any waterborne diseases. If you have a personal pool, then using that would be the best option. If using swimming pools is not an option, carrying out daily chores can keep your metabolic rate healthy. Otherwise, you could just walk along with your partner for half an hour a day at a comfortable pace.

It is important for pregnant women to keep themselves physically active throughout their pregnancy. However, there are no hard and fast rules as to who can do what and there are most definitely no generic rules as to the kind of sports women can play during pregnancy. Every woman is unique and so are her abilities to handle physical activities during pregnancy. It is important to consult your doctor about the activities you can pursue, especially if you were under treatment before or during pregnancy.