Is Basketball Safe To Play While Pregnant? Find Out



Basketball is a great way to lose weight and stay in shape, not even realizing that you are working out because while you are exercising you are having fun. But is basketball safe to play during Pregnancy? I assure you it is, I’m no OGBYN, but with the research and studies provided I will show you it is completely healthy.

Is Basketball Safe to Play while Pregnant? Yes, basketball can be safe to play in the first trimester of your pregnancy. Exercise is encouraged as this promotes good health for you and the fetus. Other benefits may include an increase in energy and mood. Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance that may help you cope better during labor.

It is important to note they you will need to scale back on exercise at some point during your pregnancy. Let us look at what the research says about exercising during pregnancy and go over some guidelines.

QUICK NOTE: While exercising if you feel any pain at all stop immediately. Contact your OGBYN if you have questions or concerns.


Can I play Basketball or Any Sport During Pregnancy?


Basketball is a fun sport to play and easy to stay in shape with the amount of cardio that is involved. For every hour you play basketball you can burn up to 400 to 700 calories all while having fun with your friends. If you are like me it is very difficult to get on a treadmill and run. I much rather be playing a sport and not realize that I’m exercising.Women holding the basketball thinking.

Basketball is a sport that can get very physical, you can get injured even by accident by another player that was not intentionally trying to harm you. It is important to be extremely cautious while you are pregnant and play some light pick up games instead of intense scrimmages. If you feel the need to play in your women’s league, I have some tips down below, but only after you get cleared from your OGBYN.

Many expected mother’s question if it is safe to exercise during pregnancy, as they feel it may harm the baby. The up and down motion of running during a basketball game or even on a treadmill has new parents cause for concern.

There was a time when your mother was pregnant with you, the doctor would advise you to scale back on exercise and physical activity. Some doctors were completely against exercise during pregnancy, until further research was developed.

Many doctors will recommend exercise during pregnancy especially if you were exercising before becoming pregnant. Exercise does not increase the risk of a miscarriage and will not harm the baby.

FUN FACT: OGBYN stands for a doctor who practices Obstetrics and Gynecology.


Guidelines For Exercise In Pregnancy According to NCBI

Women who are currently physically active can continue exercising while those who are physically inactive are encouraged to start exercising.1 The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) physical activity guidelines calling for “30 minutes or more of moderate exercise . . . on most, if not all, days of the week” is advised for normal pregnancies.1 Sixteen percent of pregnant women meet these recommendations; for comparison, only 26% of non-pregnant women comply with the ACSM physical activity recommendations

Let us break this paragraph down, this was a result of a study done in 2002 that they re-evaluated and concluded that the study still holds true to these recommendations. Let’s take a look further and break the paragraph down.

Women who are currently physically active can continue exercising while those who are physically inactive are encouraged to start exercising.

If you were trying to lose twenty pounds before your pregnancy and now there’s a fetus inside you, it would be a bad idea to do vigorous workouts to try and continue to lose those twenty pounds. Weight gain is healthy for your pregnancy and the baby.

Now if your somebody who hasn’t done much exercising before getting pregnant, I would definitely ask your doctor what is a safe amount and what type of activities you are safe to perform. I would not start playing pickup basketball if it’s been a while since you played.

The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) physical activity guidelines calling for “30 minutes or more of moderate exercise . . . on most, if not all, days of the week” is advised for normal pregnancies.

If you are someone who has been active before pregnancy and you feel this isn’t enough especially early on in your pregnancy, speak to your health care provider and discuss your concerns, there may be other options. This shows that you are allowed to work out for 30 mins every day if you wanted without worrying about any negative impact it might have on the fetus.

If your someone who hasn’t been very active, start out with walking and then progress to a brisk walk, then light jog, etc…

Sixteen percent of pregnant women meet these recommendations; for comparison…

Sixteen percent is not a lot, we are going to discuss the benefits as to why its important to keep up with exercise during pregnancy. Some of these benefits may surprise you.

FUN FACT: Guidelines are Courtesy of NCBI – The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. Resource link courtesy of


Benefits Of Exercising While Pregnant?

According to a research article courtesy of American Pregnancy’s website, these are just a small list of benefits to playing basketball and or any exercise while pregnant.


    • It helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling.
    • May help prevent, or treat gestational diabetes.
    • Increases Energy.
    • Improves mood.
    • Improves posture.
    • Promotes muscle strength, and endurance.
    • It helps you sleep better.
    • Regular activity helps keep you it during pregnancy and may improve your ability to cope with labor. This will make it easier for you to get back into shape after your baby is born.


This is just a small list have how this can benefit you the expected mother. Let us take a look at the benefits for the fetus and the infant.

There is a direct link between healthy mothers and healthy infants. Exercise and appropriate nutrition are important contributors to maternal physical and psychological health. The benefits and potential risks of exercise during pregnancy have gained even more attention, with a number of studies having been published after the 2002 American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists guidelines.

A review of the literature was conducted by using PubMed, Scopus, and Embase to assess the literature regarding the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. The search revealed 219 publications, which the authors then narrowed to 125 publications. The purpose of this review is to briefly summarize the known benefits of exercise to the mother, fetus, and newborn.

Source courtesy of:


Benefits Of Exercise For The Fetus

Benefits to the fetus that may be used to motivate women to exercise during pregnancy include decreased resting fetal heart rate [11,13,74-76], improvement in the viability of the placenta.

If this may not seem enough of a reason to start exercising, I understand. keep in mind research stills seems limited in this area but is promising when looking at the benefits of an infant whose mother has been exercising during her pregnancy, let’s take a look.


Benefits of Exercise For The Infant

In this study, it observed that infants had a healthy lower birth weight and potentially improved neurodevelopment. These children were followed until they were 5 years old and assessed. It was determined they were able to maintain a lower and healthy body weight maintaining a leaner body mass compared to mothers who didn’t exercise during pregnancy.

Children of women who exercise during their pregnancy have lower birth weights [12,15,16,79], increased gestational ages[80-82], and potentially improved neuro development[12,15,16,61]. Neonates of exercising mothers had a lower percentage of body fat [12,15,16,81]. This lower weight at birth was found to be correlated to changes in leptin levels late in pregnancy, which indicates that the placental response to exercise may be partially responsible for the lower weights.

Neonates of exercising mothers who were followed-up to 5 years of age regained typical body fat and weight at 1 year of age but were leaner at age 5 years. This indicates that, as children of exercising mothers grow, they maintain a leaner body mass index compared with children of nonexercising mothers.

Although more research is being done on the study of the brain in infants and young children of healthy, active expected mothers. This part of the study shows that it looks very promising for neurological development.


Apgar scores have been found to be higher in neonates who are born to exercising mothers [61].Clapp et al [16] reported improved orientation and the ability to self-soothe in neonates as well as higher general intelligence and oral language scores in 5-year-olds.

FUN FACT: Apgar stands for “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration

But Isn’t Playing Basketball While Pregnant Dangerous?

Basketball is a physical sport, during the early stages of your pregnancy you may feel like you can still keep up in the first trimester of your pregnancy. Consult your doctor and talk about the risks.

If you fall or take an elbow to the stomach It could harm the fetus. But there are countless mothers who continue to play their favorite sports well into their pregnancy, some don’t even know they are pregnant. Be aware any activity you do is not 100 percent completely safe there’s risk in all activity and possible injury. If something starts to hurt immediately stop.

It’s important to note that if you have been playing basketball before your pregnancy and describe yourself as someone who is fit and takes care of themselves you should be able to continue safely.

When you reach the second trimester, months four, five, and six you will start to show. This means you have added extra weight to your body and you may have to stop playing by default because your body just can not handle the running with the extra weight. If you feel the need to keep going consult your OGBYN.

FUN TIP: If you play in a Women’s Basketball league have your captain let the other team know that you are pregnant by pointing out your jersey number, you will be surprised at how careful the other players will play against you. Almost too careful. ;).


Alternative Exercises After No Longer Being Able to Play Basketball

If the Basketball Season is done and you are in your second or third trimester and you want to continue to exercise, here are some suggestion:


    • Walking
    • Water Aerobics
    • Light Resistance Training
    • Elliptical
    • Stationary Bike
    • Pilates
    • Brisk Walks
    • Swimming
    • Shooting Hoops

I suggest shooting hoops, as long as you don’t feel any strain when you are following through on the shoot. Obviously this wouldn’t be a game or scrimmage. Again consult your doctor with any concerns.


Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy

You will want to do your best to avoid these exercises, Some exercises to avoid are as follows.

    • Heavy Weight Lifting
    • Exercises involving lying on stomach
    • Standing still for long periods of time
    • Anything that may result in you falling such as extreme sports, skiing, snowboarding etc.
    • Hard cutting sports with trunk rotation, such as tennis, racketball.
    • Scuba diving or activities that involve holding your breath.


Can You Jump While Pregnant?

I can not give you a yes or no answer as I am not a Doctor but understand that if you were doing jumping activities before becoming pregnant consult your doctor and more than likely in your first trimester it should be okay if done safely.

Listen to your body If it hurts its the little one telling you to stop immediately.


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