Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Playing sport during pregnancy

4-minute read

Playing sport can be very good for you as you prepare for the arrival of your baby. Here is some information to help you decide which sport to play, who can support you and what can happen as your body changes.

Benefits of doing sport and exercise

If you are healthy and have an uncomplicated pregnancy, playing sport can help you stay fitter and stronger, prevent excess weight gain and make you feel better mentally. It may also allow you to have a shorter birth and fewer complications.

Regular exercise also lowers your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

But while pregnant, you'll need to be more careful as well as avoid certain types of sport.

Why do I need to be more careful?

Although physical activity in pregnancy is safe and good for you, some sports may cause harm to you or your baby. Even in sports that are not risky you may need to make some changes. It's important to tell your maternity team about any sport you are playing so they can support you.

Medical conditions that may affect you playing sport

Your maternity team may want to monitor your sport or advise you against participating, if you:

  • have problems with your heart, lungs or liver
  • have diabetes that is not well controlled
  • have bone or joint problems
  • have an infectious disease
  • are obese or underweight
  • have problems with your pregnancy or a previous pregnancy
  • have anaemia
  • are having a multiple birth (e.g. twins or triplets)

When you are exercising, you should stop and see your doctor straight away, if:

  • you have chest pain
  • your heart rate is higher than usual
  • you have unusual shortness of breath
  • your baby's movements have decreased
  • you are having contractions
  • you leak or gush fluid from your vagina
  • your ankles, hands or face suddenly swell
  • you have pain, swelling or redness in your calves
  • you have muscle weakness
  • you feel dizzy or faint

Sport and your level of fitness

If you are not currently active and starting a sport, it's good to choose one which needs less effort. You could start with 15 minutes per session, building up to 30 minutes of moderate intensity. If you’ve been inactive, it’s also a good idea consult your doctor before starting to play a sport during pregnancy.

If you are already active, healthy and have an uncomplicated pregnancy, you can continue to play sport unless it is one that should be avoided during pregnancy. However, this is not a good time to set new personal records.

It's important for you to stay comfortable and to warm up before and cool down after your sport.

Sports to avoid

You should not play sports that:

  • make you work very hard or become too hot
  • could cause you to fall
  • could hit your baby
  • have lots of jumping or bouncing
  • involve sudden changes in direction
  • involve diving or high altitudes

Sport and stages of pregnancy

You may need to make some changes as your pregnancy advances.

First trimester (1-12 weeks)

During this time, try not to overheat so as to protect both yourself and your baby:

  • Avoid playing sport in high heat or humidity.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water

Second and third trimesters (13-40 weeks)

During this time, the baby moves upwards and is not protected by your pelvis so avoid high impact sports that could hit the baby.

Your own body weight also moves forward so there is an increased risk of falling. If you feel unsteady or uncomfortable, stop what you're doing.

Your ligaments become looser so there is more chance of ligament injuries. Avoid sports that involve heavy weights or sudden movements and changes in direction such as court sports like tennis.

Your blood pressure may decrease so move more slowly to avoid getting dizzy when changing your posture (for example, from sitting to standing).

After 16 weeks, avoid activity that involves lying on your back since this affects blood supply to the baby and can make you feel dizzy.

What sport is recommended?

It's good to do lower-risk activities that:

  • are non-contact or limited contact
  • support your weight, such as swimming and aquanatal exercise classes — but try to avoid being in water that is warmer than 32 degrees Celsius for very long
  • allow you to exercise in a straight line rather than suddenly shifting positions
  • have a limited chance of you falling
  • allow you to exercise at low or moderate intensity
  • are designed specifically for pregnancy

You can learn more about what exercises are recommended during pregnancy and also read more about doing yoga and Pilates during pregnancy.

Don't forget to talk to your doctor or midwife about which sports and exercises are safe for you.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2020


Back To Top

Need more information?

RANZCOG - Exercise during Pregnancy

There are many benefits to be gained from regular exercise during pregnancy. These include physical benefits and the prevention of excessive weight gain, as well as benefits for psychological wellbeing.

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Exercise during pregnancy

With the exception of a few women with severe health conditions, exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, but has positive health effects for both Mum and bub.

Read more on Parenthub website

Exercising during pregnancy

Doing regular moderate physical activity has health benefits during pregnancy and also helps to prepare the body for childbirth. Read about getting fit during pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Exercising during pregnancy · Pelvic floor friendly exercises · Pelvic Floor First

Information about exercising during pregnancy

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Tips to be more active during pregnancy - Ngala

Exercising during pregnancy is a great way to maintain good health, boost your mindset and spend time with friends

Read more on Ngala website

Exercise modifications during pregnancy · Modifying exercise programs · Pelvic Floor First

Exercise modifications during pregnancy. While there are modifications of exercises recommended during pregnancy and for postnatal women, there are often times that modifications within these exercises themselves need to be made.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Pregnancy Plan app to help keep you dry | Continence Foundation of Australia

The statistic is confronting: 1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby wet themselves. But don’t despair, pelvic floor muscle exercises during pregnancy may help you stay dry.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Exercise for Pregnancy - Exercise Right.

Exercise is important during pregnancy, do you know the facts? Read on and learn about pre and post natal exercise as well as important things to consider.

Read more on Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) website

Exercise in pregnancy: for women | Raising Children Network

Light to moderate exercise in pregnancy is usually safe. It’s also good for you and your baby. Walking, swimming and stationary cycling are safe exercises.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Leg cramps during pregnancy

Leg cramps are a normal but sometimes uncomfortable part of your pregnancy. Find out how to treat and help prevent leg cramps.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.