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What exercises not to do during pregnancy

We’re always encouraged to keep active during our pregnancy, but it can be a little ambiguous about how much is too much and how much isn’t enough. We want to do all we can to be safe and not hurt either ourselves or the baby, so it’s important to have all the right information on what we’re not supposed to be doing.

Contact sports

American football game still

Well duh. This one sounds obvious, but there’s ambiguity about whether or not you can still train with your team, even if you’re not taking part in the sport. Obviously once you hit your second trimester, this is no longer viable, but training is fine as long as it’s not overly strenuous and you don’t get involved in anything where you risk your bump being hit. So no matches, but at least you can still keep in shape!

Activities with risk of falling or high altitude

Full body of female in shorts and top sitting on roadside in rural field with bicycle near and enjoying fresh air with eyes closed

Things like skiing, rock-climbing or hiking over 2,500 metres presents risks of falling or a reduction in oxygen, both of which could harm you and the baby. Your balance changes in pregnancy because your bump changes your centre of gravity, making it harder for you to balance as you normally would. Things like cycling and horse-riding also present a risk.

Exercising on your back in pregnancy

Woman in White T-shirt and Black Pants Holding Yellow and Black Basketball

After the 16 week mark, it is advised that you stop exercising on your back. It can cause low blood pressure and dizziness as the weight of the baby could impact on a major blood vessel and reduce blood flow to both of you, making you feel faint. The HSE recommends that pregnant women sleep on their side for this reason too

Certain exercise classes

Woman Stretching on Ground

This is one where there is ambiguity. Some yoga or cardio classes are made specifically for pregnant women and are safe to practice. But others that don’t specifically state that they are designed for pregnant women can present some risks. For example, core classes. Anything with advanced abdominal moves like sit-ups or crunches can injure the abdomen and should be avoided. Back bends or contortions should also be avoided. If you attend a non-pregnancy class, let your instructor know that you are pregnant to check if the moves are suitable.

Hot yoga/hot weather exercise

Photo of Woman Doing Yoga

Anything that is raising your temperature should be avoided. Practicing hot yoga causes the blood to rise to the skin surface and away from the uterus, meaning your baby might not get the blood flow it needs. This is why saunas, hot tubs and steam rooms should also be avoided.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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