Exercises to avoid in pregnancy

There are a small amount of exercises and activities that may cause injury or other problems for you or your unborn baby. Because of this, it’s best to avoid them until after your baby is born.

There are lots of ways you can be active now you’re pregnant but the exercises listed below may not be safe during your pregnancy.

Contact sports in pregnancy

Contact sports are activities such as football, hockey or martial arts. Because of the way they are played, there is a risk of your bump being hit 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 have a risk of falling during pregnancy

Any exercise or activity where there is a risk of falling, such as skiing or horse riding, can be risky. This is because your growing bump alters your centre of gravity so it’s harder to keep your balance.

If you cycle and you’re worried about falling, you could change to indoor cycling in a gym.

Exercising at high altitudes in pregnancy

You shouldn’t exercise at high altitudes (over 2,500 metres) unless you are used to it as it reduces the oxygen supply to your baby.

If you have gone 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.

Pregnancy exercise: don’t lie on your back

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.

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  1. NHS Choices [accessed 23 February 2015] ‘Exercise in pregnancy’ http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-exercise.aspx 
  2. RCOG (2006) Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy.pdf 
  3. 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 .
  4. Camporesi EM (1996) ‘Diving and pregnancy’, Seminars in Perinatology 20 (4): 292–301: http://www.seminperinat.com/article/S0146-0005%2896%2980022-X/abstract 
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Jun 2016 - 10:21

    I am 10 weeks pregnant and am continuing with running, circuit, metafit, tabata and boxing (none contact, pads only) and after speaking to my midwife I am over the moon that I can continue to do what I love. I was so scared I would be told to stop. Exercising helps with cramping, makes me feel great and really boosts my feel good levels. I would say to any mum to be, stick with what you're doing, unless it gets uncomfortable or painful obviously, and if you're not already keeping fit I'd recommend you start asap ... it's the best thing for yours and the babies well being and you'll feel better than you ever have :)

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