You may be wondering what activities you should avoid, or continue, during pregnancy, but there is a lot of misinformation out there. We have put together this article in order to unpack the concept of moderation, especially when it comes to exercise and related activities. The need to avoid some activities may intuitive, but for certain other activities things may not be so clear. Consider skydiving, for example. It may sound fairly obvious that this is an activity to avoid while pregnant, and you should. But you may be surprised to learn that the topic has been up for debate; experts have put time into discussing whether or not to recommend that pregnant skydivers hold off on this activity until some time after giving birth. The short answer is that you should not skydive but, if you really love skydiving, then wind tunnel training could be acceptable for you. That applies only if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy –an “if” that we’ll be repeated throughout this article as we consider other physical activities.
Let’s examine some physical activities that are more much more common than skydiving but for which you may have been told should be something to avoid:
- Weightlifting – You can read more about it here, but the take-home message is that weightlifting can be safe during pregnancy if you avoid heavy lifting and opt instead for light weights, meaning weights that are light enough for you to do moderate to high numbers of repetitions. Be especially careful to use light loads for exercises that put vertical strain on your spine, such as squatting and military and incline presses. Work with a physical trainer who is experienced in training pregnant women and taper down your lifting as you move into the final trimester.
- No Running – This is something that you may hear occasionally, but it is not correct. If you have an uncompleted pregnancy and no medical conditions that otherwise should keep you from running, then running can be perfectly safe and fulfilling during pregnancy Check out this brief article in Runners World Magazine explaining how you may find it useful to taper down your running distance and intensity as you approach your due date.
- No Sauna or hot tubs – Heating associated with hot tubs and saunas can be dangerous for anybody who remains in the heated environment too long, pregnant or not. However, pregnancy increases one’s vulnerability, and so experts recommend limiting time in a hot tub or sauna, even more than the time should be limited in a non-pregnant person. The consensus among experts is that you should spend no more than ten minutes in the hot tub, or sauna. While inside, avoid sitting directly on the hot water vents. Hot tubs have temperature settings, so if you’re the first one in, or the only one, chose a cooler setting.
- Swimming – Most experts are of the opinion that swimming during pregnancy is fine (read more about it here).
- No amusement parks – Pregnant women are generally discouraged from going to amusement park rides, but of course it matters which ride you have in mind. Amusement parks are usually good about putting up warnings on rides that can be dangerous during pregnancy, such as roller coasters. However, riding slow kiddy ride with your toddler, such as the tour train that takes you around a theme park is perfectly fine. Keep in mind though that you are especially prone to nausea and motion sickness while pregnant. Don’t even think about the spinning rides, but don’t worry about the House of Mirrors!
- No commuting in public vehicles – People have actually written articles telling pregnant women to avoid subways, buses, and trains, but of course you cannot. There is no more danger to riding public transportation than riding in a private car or taxi. In most cases, people will give up their seats if you are advanced in your pregnancy so that it shows. Otherwise, don’t be shy to ask for a seat, especially if your feet are swollen and you have a long ride.
- No power yoga – Power yoga should be avoided when you are pregnant, unless you are a yoga expert such that the poses that you perform are well within your comfort zone. More modest yoga is acceptable; in fact there are yoga classes specifically targeted to pregnancy.
- No biking or cycling – As with running, you may find people telling you to avoid biking, but exercise is good during pregnancy. So long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and take precautions, such as avoiding bumpy surfaces, there is no particular reason to avoid cycling. As with any exercise, however, it is wise to taper it down as you approach your due date.