What activities should I avoid during pregnancy?
As your pregnancy progresses, you should avoid any activity that puts you at risk for falling or increases the chance of trauma to your abdomen. And the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that activities at altitudes over 6,000 feet may carry some risks, as less oxygen is available for you and your baby.
Research is conflicting about whether raising your core body temperature through exercise can harm your baby, but we do know that the following activities 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.
- Contact sports: Soccer, basketball, 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.
- 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. Avoid skiing at altitudes above 6,000 feet, where there's less oxygen for you and your baby.
- Gymnastics: Same risk of falling and increased chance of trauma to your abdomen.
- Horseback riding: Even if you're a good rider, it's not worth risking a fall.
- Post-sport 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.
Play it smart by sticking to safe pregnancy activities. Even if you were very active before getting pregnant, if you're at risk for preterm labor or intrauterine growth restriction (when the baby fails to grow at a normal rate), you should cut back on your level of physical activity in your second and third trimesters. Your healthcare provider can help you design a fitness routine that's right for you and your baby-to-be.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that you stop exercising immediately and call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding
- shortness of breath
- dizziness or feeling faint
- chest pain
- muscle weakness
- calf pain or swelling (which could indicate a blood clot)
- preterm labor
- decreased fetal movement
- fluid leaking from the vagina
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