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Specific Sports Guidelines for Pregnancy

The bottom line with regard to sports participation is preserving you and your baby's health. You must consider risk of falls, not only because this can affect the pregnancy, but also because x-rays, medications, and surgeries needed to evaluate and treat injuries can be harmful to the pregnancy. Repeated forceful impact can disrupt the placenta and put the pregnancy at serious risk. Environmental conditions such as high altitude and severe temperatures can interfere with the flow of oxygen and blood to supply the baby. These risks are relative to skill level and what your body is used to—for example, skiing at a high altitude is not recommended for most, but for a woman who lives at a high altitude and skis without falling, it can be done with caution due to other falling into her. General recommendations for sports are avoiding risks of falls and trauma, especially abdominal injury due to contact and impact. Falls should especially be avoided because impact can cause placental abruption, and orthopedic care of injuries such as x-rays or surgery can be risky to the fetus.

Activities Not Recommended/High-Risk Sports

Increased Potential for Increased Risk of Abdominal
Falls/Trauma Injury
Downhill and waterskiing Hockey (field and ice)
Hang gliding, sky diving Basketball
Horseback riding Soccer
Skating Boxing
Gymnastics Wrestling
Rock climbing Football
Scuba diving Martial arts involving fighting/contact

Environment is very important to the health of your pregnancy. Vacationing or exercising at altitudes above 8,500 feet is not recommended due to lower oxygen content (unless you already live there, in which case your blood has adapted to this). If you are planning a ski or hiking trip, stick to the lower-altitude resorts. You can also be more prone to altitude sickness than when you are not pregnant, so beware of symptoms of light-headedness, headache, nausea, insomnia, poor appetite, or fatigue, and drink even more fluids than usual. As with any change in climate, take a few days to let your body adjust to the new altitude before beginning physical activity in the new environment. Temperature, as previously discussed, is a major consideration. Avoid exercising in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Specific Sport Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy
Most sports can be continued with modifications. If you have any questions check with your doctor before participating. For all standing and weight-bearing exercises, make sure your shoes fit comfortably and are not too tight; it is common for feet to become swollen, so purchase shoes to accommodate. Also, make sure you have good cushioning to accommodate your added weight. Your exercise shoes should be replaced at least every three months. The following are generally recommended activity modifications:

Tips for Safe Jogging While Pregnant Tips for Safe Swimming While Pregnant Tips for Safe Exercise Class Participation While Pregnant To date, no doctors or researchers can draw a specific line on what activities can and cannot be done during pregnancy. Everyone is different as to what they and their pregnancy can tolerate. However, to be sure, use the safe tips above and remember the following points: Make sure you are slowly gaining weight after the first trimester, about one pound per week; maintain your exercise activity at a lower level than you were doing before; make sure you are comfortable at all times during exercise. Remember that pregnancy changes actually improve your fitness level on its own. Your lower level of exercise will leave you extremely fit after pregnancy. Four to six weeks after a normal preg nancy and delivery, you should feel able to gradually return to your prior exercise routine and be back to feeling fit in two to three months.

From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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