Recreation and Pregnancy

When you discover that you are pregnant, you start asking questions about what is safe to do while you are pregnant. Vacation, hobbies, exercise and everyday activities have always just been a part of your life, but now you are wondering if you need to change what you are doing or how you are doing it.

Exercise, in general, is good for you and your developing baby. However, there are some activities that you should avoid during pregnancy to ensure you baby's safety. Before you engage in any physical activity, it is important to visit with your doctor to discuss your situation and evaluate together whether you should get involved. Here is a list of activities that may warrant restrictions or other specific recommendations from you physician:

  • Running, Jogging and Pregnancy
    Runners who keep exercising during pregnancy tend to gain less weight, have leaner babies, deliver about a week earlier than estimated, and have shorter labors. If you are experiencing any complications in carrying your pregnancy, you will probably be advised to stop jogging. Check with your physician for specific recommendations related to running and jogging.

  • Bicycling, Spinning and Pregnancy
    Cycling or riding stationary bikes are a good source of exercise that increases your heart rate without pounding the pavement. Cycling may become more uncomfortable during the last trimester when your belly has grown and it is challenging to reach the handle bars. Avoid riding off road or when the pavement is wet which increase your chances of having an accident.

  • Weight Lifting and Pregnancy
    It is common to hear that it is unsafe to lift heavy things when you are pregnant. What most people don't know is that the risk of injury is usually directed at the mother and not the baby. The increase in the level of hormones during pregnancy causes your ligaments to soften, which leads to joints that may be less stable. Your center of gravity has shifted which puts more stress on your back. These two factors make you more susceptible to injury. If you have a history of miscarriage or pregnancy complications, your physician may request that you avoid weight lifting. Check with your physician for specific recommendations related to weight lifting.

  • Skiing and Pregnancy
    Both water and snow skiing have high incidents of falls and pose significant risk of injuries. Both water and snow skiing are not recommended during pregnancy.

  • Scuba Diving and Pregnancy
    Scuba divers must decompress as they return to the surface. Developing babies have difficulty doing this. Miscarriage, birth defects, low birth weights, premature deliveries, and stillbirths have all proven to be more likely to occur with women who dive. Scuba diving is not recommended during pregnancy.

High Impact Aerobics and Pregnancy

Aerobic exercise in general is healthy for pregnant women and their developing babies. The reason that high impact aerobics are not recommended is similar to weight lifting. The increase in the level of hormones during pregnancy causes your ligaments to soften, which leads to joints that may be less stable. Your center of gravity has shifted which puts more stress on your back. These two factors make you more susceptible to injury. You may be asked to avoid aerobic exercise if you have a history of miscarriage or if you have complications with your pregnancy. Check with your physician for specific recommendations related to aerobic exercise.

Contact Sports and Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant are encouraged to avoid activities that may allow direct trauma to the abdomen. Contact sports pose significant risks of trauma to the abdomen and you are recommended to avoid contact sports during pregnancy.

Activities With Risks of Falling

Ice skating, roller blading, rock climbing, and other activities that have higher risks of falling should be avoided during pregnancy. Check with your physician for specific recommendations related to any hobby or activity that poses risks of falling.

Altitude and Pregnancy

Studies suggest a connection between living in high altitudes of 10,000 feet or more and pregnancy complications. Exercise at altitudes over 7,500 feet has not been identified as safe. There are certainly women who live at altitudes above 7,500 feet who have been pregnant, exercised and had healthy babies, however it is important to be safe. Check with your physician for specific recommendations related to exercising in high altitudes.

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association.