What exercises should I avoid?

Most exercises are safe in pregnancy but there are a few things you should avoid or be careful with to keep your baby safe.

Women playing rugby.

Contact sports in pregnancy

Contact sports are activities such as football, rugby, hockey or martial arts. Because of the way they are played, there is a risk of your bump being hit by a ball or a person and so it’s best not to do them at all while you’re pregnant. If you’re part of a team though, you could still train with them – perhaps in the gym – as long as you don’t do anything where you could get hit.

Activities that put at risk of falling

Take care with any exercise or activity where there is a risk of falling, such as skiing, cycling or horse riding. Your growing bump alters your centre of gravity so you may find that it’s harder to keep your balance. There are ways to keep doing what you like and stay stable. If you cycle and you feel less stable than usual, for example, you could change to indoor cycling in a gym.

Exercising at high altitudes in pregnancy

Don’t exercise at high altitudes (over 2,500 metres) unless you are used to it. It reduces the oxygen supply to your baby. If you have travelled to a place that is over 2,500 metres, you should wait at least four to five days for your body to adjust before you do any exercise.

Scuba diving in pregnancy

Scuba diving is not safe during pregnancy. Nitrogen gas bubbles can pass across the placenta and your unborn baby has no protection against decompression sickness.

Don’t lie on your back after 16 weeks

After 16 weeks, exercising on your back can cause low blood pressure and dizziness in some women. The weight of the baby could press on a major blood vessel and reduce the blood flow to your heart.

Read more about what kind of exercises you can do in pregnancy

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  1. RCOG (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/statements/statement-no-4.pdf
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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