Condition: A female athlete who chooses to continue with her sport during the pregnancy is referred to as a “pregnant athlete.”
Background: Physical activity during pregnancy has many benefits but also some risks. About 42% of women say they exercised during their pregnancy. Walking, swimming, and aerobics are most common.
Risk Factors: Risks vary slightly depending on the stage of the pregnancy. Changes in an athlete’s body during pregnancy can increase the risk of certain problems such as overheating, dehydration, and low blood sugar. This can be dangerous for both the woman and the fetus. Pregnancy may also make some problems worse in athletes, such as loss of bone density, anemia, or joint problems. Sports related injuries, or starting a new intense sport for the first time during pregnancy may be especially risky for both the fetus and the woman.
Physical Exam: The obstetrician or other care provider will conduct a normal prenatal exam to check for problems like bleeding, high blood pressure, and headaches. She will pay special attention to the hips, spine, and other joints.
Diagnostic Process: Routine prenatal care will include standard blood tests. Other tests may be ordered if there are concerns. If imaging of a joint is needed, ultrasound can use used safely.
Rehab Management: When treating injuries or other conditions in a pregnant athlete, the safety of drugs and procedures is most important. The pregnant athlete may need to cut back on her work-outs if there are problems with the pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, early labor, or bleeding.
Other Resources for Patients and Families: Family, friends, coaches, and trainers can support, encourage, and help the athlete learn how to exercise safely during pregnancy.