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It's best to avoid any activity that puts you at risk for falling or increases the chance of trauma to your abdomen when you're pregnant.
Your risk for injury depends partly on your level of skill, of course. But consider that your ability to maintain your balance is likely to decrease as your pregnancy progresses and your center of gravity shifts.
You'll also want to take special precautions when you're traveling to high altitudes, where there's less oxygen for you and your baby. Travelling above 8,000 feet, for example, can cause altitude sickness and put your baby at risk.
Here's a list of some activities that can cause problems during pregnancy:
- Amusement park rides: Waterslides and other rides at amusement parks are a no-no, since a forceful landing or sudden start or stop could harm your baby.
- Bicycling: Cycling isn't a good idea for newbies, but experienced riders may be able to continue until their second trimester, when a shifting center of gravity affects balance and can make cycling dangerous. Riding a stationary bike is a safe alternative.
- Contact sports: Soccer, basketball, volleyball, and hockey put you at a high risk of injury from a ball or puck, a collision with another player, or a fall during play.
- Diving: It can be harmful to your baby to hit the water forcefully.
- Downhill skiing: ACOG advises against downhill skiing anytime during pregnancy because of the risk of serious injuries and hard falls. If you choose to ski, stick to gentle slopes and be aware that you may have problems with balance as your belly expands. A safer choice is cross-country skiing, which is also much better for building cardiovascular fitness.
- Gymnastics: Again, there's a risk of falling and an increased chance of trauma to your abdomen.
- Horseback riding: Even if you're a good rider, it's not worth risking a fall. If you're experienced, walking around on the horse in the beginning of pregnancy is about as far as you should take it.
- Hot tubs and saunas: Soaking in hot tubs and Jacuzzis or sitting in a sauna can be dangerous to your developing baby because overheating has been linked to birth defects.
- Running: If you weren't a runner before you got pregnant, now's not the time to take it up. Otherwise, it's fine in moderation. From your second trimester on, when the risk of falling increases, you should run with caution. As with all forms of exercise, avoid becoming overheated, and drink plenty of water to replace fluids lost through sweating.
- Scuba diving: This is an absolute no. As you surface, air bubbles can form in your bloodstream, which can be very dangerous for both you and your growing baby.
- Snowboarding: Same risk of falling and increased chance of trauma to your abdomen.
- Surfing: Same risk of falling and increased chance of trauma to your abdomen.
- Tennis: A moderately paced game of tennis is okay if you played before you became pregnant. But you may have problems with balance and sudden stops, so watch your step. Most women find that it's hard to keep up their game as their bellies get bigger in the second and third trimesters.
- Waterskiing: Another activity that puts you at risk for falling and increases the chance of trauma to your abdomen.
It's a good idea to stay active during your pregnancy, but play it smart by sticking to safe pregnancy activities.
Even if you were very active before getting pregnant, if you're at risk for or diagnosed with certain problems (such as preterm labor or intrauterine growth restriction, preeclampsia, ruptured membranes, persistent bleeding, cervical insufficiency, or severe anemia), you'll need to restrict your activities. Your healthcare provider can help you design a fitness routine that's right for you.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises that you stop exercising immediately if you have any of the following warning signs:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Painful contractions
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Dizziness or fainting
- Chest pain or heart palpitations
- Calf pain or swelling (which could indicate a blood clot)
- Blurred vision
- Pain in your abdomen or chest