There’s no reason to give up all the hobbies one loves the moment a woman becomes pregnant. There are, however, a lot of dangerous activities that shouldn’t be done during this precious time. When it comes to doing physical activities you’re unsure of, you should always air on the side of caution. It just doesn’t pay to take a risk with your health and the health of your developing little one.
A lot of off-limits pregnancy activities seem to be the stuff of common sense, but some may not be so obvious. There are always the stories of famous athletes, celebs, and rebellious moms who treat pregnancy like an inconvenience and refuse to let it rain on their parade. While you don’t always hear about the negative consequences, the risks that come with these physical activities are very real and very scary.
When you’re pregnant, any kind of sport or physical activity that involves pushing yourself beyond your normal physical limits should absolutely be avoided. But even things you were used to doing before you got pregnant might not be safe for the fetus or your body. This is because your center of gravity shifts when you’re pregnant, and a lot of changes occur in the body, making you more sensitive to injury and stress. If you don’t know if something is safe to do when you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t do it until you’ve talked to your healthcare provider or found sound medical information- don’t just assume it’s okay and possibly create a medical emergency. Read on to find out the 15 dangerous activities not to do while pregnant.
15 Riding On Horseback
This one is undoubtedly going to anger some avid equestrians, but it’s really not safe to horseback ride once you know you are pregnant. While this can certainly be a fun, safe, and relaxing hobby, even the most experienced rider is not immune to the dangers of an accident during horseback riding. There is no predicting when a horse can spook and throw the rider off, and this would be very traumatic for a pregnant rider.
For very experienced riders, some do continue to ride during pregnancy. Though they might only ride the horse at a walking pace, and not push it to canter or gallop, the risk of falling off is still there.
I remember my first encounter with a horse as a kid at summer camp. I was so excited to ride, having heard about horses and how fun and gentle they were since I was little. As the counselor and I approached the horse, it stepped backwards and stepped on my foot, and I’ve been squeamish around these animals ever since. The point here is that, while horses can have an amazing rapport with their riders and owners, they are still animals, and have moments of unpredictability. Not worth the risk.
14 Pushing The Limits At The Gym
Here we have another controversial topic… weightlifting during pregnancy. Of course it’s normal to want to stay in shape during pregnancy, and for women whose careers are image-based, such as bodybuilders, the pressures to stay fit can be enormous. The issue with lifting heavy weights during pregnancy is that there is no safe established amount. For women who lifted regularly before pregnancy, of course lifting very light weights isn’t likely to strain the body. By light weights, we mean only about 5 or 10 lbs. I don't know about you, but pictures like this make me just plain angry and baffled.
If you never lifted before, or plan to keep pushing your workouts and lifting heavy weights during pregnancy, you might want to think again. For some people, lifting heavy weights during pregnancy can cause premature labor and low birth weight. Your joints also loosen during pregnancy to get you ready for delivery, and this means a risk of dislocation or other joint injury.
I know a woman who is pregnant after being told she would probably never have kids. She is into professional bodybuilding, and she is continuing to lift heavy weights and work out constantly despite being considered higher risk than most. I understand wanting to stick to a routine and stay fit, but at a certain point, you have to realize your body is being used for something much bigger than yourself, and stop putting your wants first for the baby’s sake. I worked out up until the night before birth, but I followed my midwife’s advice and stopped doing free weights very early on to play it safe.
13 Getting Wild At Amusement Parks
If you’re pregnant during the spring or summer, or live somewhere warm and tropical, it can be really tempting to go to amusement parks, fairs, or carnivals. It’s only natural to want to go on the rides when you’re there, but you should really not do that if you’re pregnant.
While pregnant, you don’t want to go on any kind of ride that starts or stops fast. While there aren’t any studies proving these rides particularly hazardous to women who are with child, there isn’t any proof they’re safe, either. The amount of force and pressure on some of the rides could cause placental abruption, which is premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus.
There are women who ignore the warnings and go on rides with no issue, but it’s best to play it safe and follow any amusement park guidelines that might be posted or just say no to the rollercoasters, virtual rides, and thrill rides that you’re unsure about. You can always just walk around the park, take in the sights, and return when baby is old enough to have fun there or any time after you’re pregnancy.
12 Cruising Around On A Motorcycle
When you’re pregnant, you’d think the last thing you’d want to do is ride a dangerous vehicle with pretty much nothing but your clothing protecting your body from the road or other vehicles that might hit you. Some people, however, continue life as normal when they get pregnant. This is very risky because falling from even a few feet up could cause miscarriage or injury to the fetus.
True story: I met someone once who got pregnant young and decided she didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. She told me she rode around on a friend’s motorcycle until she “wasn’t pregnant anymore.” According to her, the bumpy rides caused her to have a miscarriage. Even if you don’t have ill intent, you could have this happen from joyriding around. Most of the dangers of riding a motorcycle are thanks to the other drivers on the road, and you don’t want to put your safety and your baby’s safety in the hands of other drivers. That is basically what it boils down to.
11 Hitting The Bike Trails
Like with motorcycle riding, riding a bicycle while pregnant is not a smart idea. Hitting the trails is risky because you could fall off the bike or collide with a tree or other obstacle. No matter how great of a rider you are, you can’t account for Mother Nature, and a quick turn of the weather or unforeseen circumstance could leave you in a dangerous situation.
Riding a bike on concrete is not a great idea when pregnant, either. Even a seemingly harmless fall or scrape can spell disaster when you’re in such a delicate state, so it’s really best to just keep your feet on the ground. I was shocked to find out just how many women continue this activity during pregnancy.
While bike riding is great exercise, even when you aren’t pregnant, the risk of head injury is high. Throw a baby in the mix and you have a reckless hobby. Just wait until after baby is born to do this kind of thing- you will be glad you did.
10 Back Handsprings And Tumbling
Gymnastics is a great physical activity. It’s good cardio and helps strengthen and tone the body. For a gymnast who has been competing since youth, gymnastics can seem second nature. They might not think about the risks involved with tumbling, bouncing, jumping, balance beams, rings, uneven bars and vaulting. The issue with gymnastics is the risk of falling, putting too much pressure on the bump, or mistaken landings.
Abdomen trauma is the worst thing you can risk while pregnant, because it directly affects the baby. There are other gentle activities you can do while pregnant, if you miss doing gymnastics. These are things like yoga, gentle pilates, walking, dance, and swimming. Such activities can be done in a way that doesn’t risk the fetus or mom at all. Athletes should always talk to an OBGYN before continuing anything that might be risky to mama or baby. Better safe than sorry.
9 Contact Sports
Contact sports are never okay during pregnancy, unless you’re just a spectator! Things like rugby, football, MMA, fencing, wrestling, or hockey are all considered contact sports. That means there is a strong likelihood of being tackled, knocked over, struck or jostled by an opponent. Being charged by an opponent means the belly could get hit or kicked, resulting in injury to mom or the baby. And obviously, mom doing the tackling doesn’t make it any safer.
There aren’t too many women who think this kind of thing is a wise idea during pregnancy, but you always have the select few who either don’t think or don’t care about this kind of thing. Being an athlete is no reason to put the baby in harm’s way, these sports can wait until after pregnancy. If you’ve ever been to a sports event where the sport was full contact, you probably understand the reasoning behind this restriction.
8 Diving Into Pools
Imagine being pregnant in the dead of summer. There’s probably almost nothing that sounds better than flopping into a cool pool and lazily floating around for a few hours. That’s all well and good, but you don’t want to dive or do any kind of crazy jumps into that pool, and you can forget about cliff jumping or high dives.
Impact is the enemy of the pregnant lady’s tummy, and diving is just too risky because that bump hitting the water is not okay. Even the most experienced swimmer or diver shouldn’t attempt this during pregnancy, because there is just no knowing what will come of it.
This is another activity that is very based in common sense, but some people do need to be reminded. You can swim anywhere you please when you’re pregnant, whether it’s a pool, lake, or the ocean, but you should carefully lower yourself into the water and avoid any crazy movements.
7 Getting Hot And Steamy
This is another activity that is usually quite fun and relaxing. Hot tubs, Jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms should be avoided when you’re pregnant. This is because you need to avoid putting your body in any very hot temperatures. High body temperatures have been linked to birth defects in the baby. You never know when you’re overheating until it’s too late, so the experts say it’s best to avoid these types of places.
When you’re pregnant, your core body temperature should never rise above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. It only takes 10 to 20 minutes to raise your body temperature to that danger point, and then you’re putting the fetus at risk. You can soak in a regular bathtub with warm water if you want a good soak.
Before I knew I was pregnant, I sat in a hot tub for a few minutes. Looking back, I absolutely wouldn’t have done that if I knew. This was in the very early part of pregnancy, and nothing bad came of it, but I was just lucky.
6 Hitting The Slopes
Downhill skiing and snowboarding should be off limits during pregnancy! Not only is there a risk of falling on your stomach, there’s a risk of colliding with another person on the slopes or even a tree. Even the most experienced skier or boarder falls sometimes, so it’s beyond me why anyone would chance it during pregnancy.
For people who cannot wait until baby is born to partake in their favorite winter sports, cross country skiing or even snowshoeing are some safer options. They can get the same experience of getting good exercise out in the snow and sunshine without the risks that come along with barreling down a snow-covered mountain.
As someone who is not a fan of snow, let alone winter sports, it baffles me why anyone would think this is a good idea, but people who are diehard snowbunnies have some differing opinions. It’s best to wait this out until after pregnancy and save yourself from a possible disaster.
5 Taking Up Running
Before you get angry with this one, you need to know that running is only safe during pregnancy if you're an experienced runner. If you are an experienced runner and have been running for a long time before you got pregnant, you can continue with the same types of runs you did pre-baby. If you are new to the sport, this is not the time to take on a half marathon.
The reason taking on running during pregnancy isn’t a great idea is because you might not know your physical limits or how running might impact your body. If you’re going to start regardless, you want to make sure you run slowly and for short periods of time, allowing for warm-ups and cool downs every time. About 20 or 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily is all you need.
You’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated and run only in safe places if you’re going to run while pregnant. You want to avoid overheating and running in wooded or unfamiliar areas, so as to avoid becoming a target.
4 Riding The Waves
Fun in the sun is always a great thing, especially when it incorporates exercise. They say the ocean has healing powers, and anyone who has spent time there can attest to the sense of wellbeing and relaxation you get from just a short amount of time in those salty waves. Surfing, however, is best left to post-pregnancy.
Surfing is another sport where everything can be perfectly safe and done correctly, but the risk of belly impact is too high to allow it to be safe during pregnancy. While there are a lot of pro surfers and avid wave-riders who swear it helped allow them to feel blissful during the three trimesters, the risk is still too high for it to be considered a safe pregnancy sport. All it takes is one good fall on the stomach or the board hitting the stomach to spell disaster for the fetus or placenta. Best to wait!
3 Competitive Games Of Tennis
Tennis is one of those physical activities that can be really rigorous and exhausting if you’re not used to playing. If you’re an experienced player and you take all of the proper precautions, you can play tennis safely all through your pregnancy, but you need to make sure you don’t get overheated, dehydrated or strained.
The reason you don’t want to take this up as a new hobby while pregnant (especially in the later stages of pregnancy), is because the risk of falling while you’re diving for the tennis ball is pretty high. When you have to constantly change direction to chase the ball, you might not be aware of your shifting center of gravity, and that is where the danger lies.
Falling during tennis could cause contractions, early labor, or placental abruption. You’ll want to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re cleared for rigorous physical activity before playing any sport, including tennis. It’s always better to play it safe and not push your limits.
2 Picking Up Waterskiing
Waterskiing is another super fun water activity you never want to do while pregnant. As someone who has been waterskiing several times, I can tell you the risk of falling is quite high – you’re more likely to face plant into the water than you are to stay upright the whole time. Smacking your belly on the water or getting dragged by an arm or foot through the waves aren’t things you want to happen while pregnant.
Waterskiing involves using almost all the muscles in your body to pull yourself up to a standing position on the water. You can’t predict what the boat driver or the waves will do, so you can’t control whether you’ll hit the water. Even if you’re really experienced with this sport, it could spell disaster for your baby bump. Stick to gentle smelling, sunning, and riding around if you want to be safe.
1 Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is an amazing way to explore the ocean and get some quality time in the water. If you’re pregnant, however, this beloved water sport could be fatal for your baby. When you dive down into the water, there is always the possibility of nitrogen bubbles reaching vital organs in the fetus. The reason for this is that while mature lungs have the ability to filter out those bubbles and only put the oxygen to use, the baby’s lungs are not mature yet and those bubbles could potentially cause damage or birth defects.
There have been no studies on this because it’s obviously not safe or right to perform experiments on pregnant mothers. You can still get the relaxation and pain-relief of ocean exercise by simply sticking to swimming. That way, you reap all the benefits without the risks of diving. You also don’t have to worry about squeezing into a wet suit, which is hard enough to do when you’re not pregnant!