On one hand—getting outside and exercising when you are pregnant is great for you and your baby. 🤰
On the other hand—you have to be careful you are not exposing you and your baby to excessive heat and overexertion if you decide to hit the golf course.
We’ve outlined several things to keep in mind when you do decide to hit the links.
Golf allows you to escape the world’s craziness and enjoy an outdoor mind-and-body workout and playful banter with friends. It’s gotten you through many challenges and changes.
Now that your body is experiencing the ultimate change – pregnancy – you need golf time more than ever, so you hope you won’t have to quit for 9 months.
You need to know: Can I golf while pregnant?
You can safely play golf throughout a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, provided you take precautions such as avoiding overheating and overexertion. Additionally, avoid overextending your joints when you swing or bend, as they are looser and more injury-prone during pregnancy.
You likely don’t need to keep off the golf course just because you’ve got a baby bump! I’ll share all the advice, tips, and other must-know info you’ll need to stay safe (and protect your growing baby) while you chase hole-in-ones, whether you’re a pro or just starting golfing.
Can I play golf while pregnant?
Golfing can be good for you and your developing baby if you’re having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy.
Staying active while pregnant can boost your mood, squash stress and anxiety, help you get a better night’s sleep, speed the birthing process, cut your risks of pregnancy-triggered diabetes and high blood pressure, lower your chance of needing a C-section, and keep your weight healthy, according to MedicalNewsToday. Not to mention all the other general health and fitness pluses!
Any exercise can give you perks like these, but golf is an especially good pick while you’re pregnant.
What makes golf stand out as a good pregnancy workout is that a great deal of it is walking, which happens to be one of the best exercises when you’re expecting. You clock up about 3 or 4 miles while playing a round of golf on an average course (assuming you walk the whole way rather than opt for the golf cart).
What’s more, it’s kind to your joints, doesn’t raise your heart rate too much, and is good for all fitness levels, even beginners.
Here’s a deeper look at the top 4 reasons golf is a pregnancy-friendly workout:
Reason #1: Golf has a low injury risk
You want to take extra care with a bun in the oven. Golf is generally considered a low-risk exercise (unlike contact sports such as softball and volleyball).
Reason #2: Golf suits different fitness levels
You choose how many holes to play and when (or how often) to rest.
Reason #3: Golf is low-impact
Golfing doesn’t typically involve high-impact moves like jumping, hopping, and thudding the ground, making it easy on joints.
Reason #4: It’s low- to moderate-Iintensity
You can put as much (or little) energy into your game as you want. This is important, as you don’t want to spike your heart rate (say bye-bye to your HIIT sessions for a while!) – WebMD advises that you keep your heart rate to a max of 140 beats per minute while you’re pregnant.
Is it safe to play golf while pregnant?
It’s generally safe to golf with a bun in the oven. But some women shouldn’t golf – or exercise at all – during pregnancy.
Working out can do more harm than good if you have health trouble like asthma, heart disease, unmanaged type 1 diabetes, or if you’re experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.
WebMD warns that you should take extra care when exercising while pregnant if you have a medical condition such as serious anemia, uncontrolled high blood pressure or overactive thyroid, or if you’re very over- or underweight.
There are several other reasons exercise (or at least some types) might not be a good idea while pregnant. These reasons depend on your health status, fitness level, and pregnancy experience.
So, before taking steps around the golf course, make it your first step to see your doc for a full check-up. Your doctor will tell you if you have any workout no-no’s or if you’re good to go!
Even if you get the all-clear to play golf while pregnant (yay!), you still need to take a few precautions while on the course.
Golf isn’t exactly a pregnancy threat (FYI: skiing, horse-riding, and scuba diving are), but play it safe to protect yourself and your baby-on-the-way.
These are 4 golfing risks during pregnancy you must know:
Risk #1: Injury
Your changing hormones throughout pregnancy keep giving you surprising symptoms (…you’ll take the thick, glossy hair, but what’s up with the strange food cravings?).
One pregnancy hormone that affects your fitness routine is relaxin. Relaxin stretches your ligaments (the part of you that holds bones and joints together), making your joints looser and more likely to get hurt if they’re overextended – like, say, if you rotate your arms too much while swinging your club or bend your knees too deeply when getting your ball out the hole.
Your getting-bigger-every-day belly also increases your injury risk. As your tummy grows, it becomes trickier to stay balanced, especially while navigating hilly golf course terrain. And a higher chance of falling comes with a loss of balance.
Risk #2: Overheating
One of the pleasures of golf is that it’s outdoors. Though, this also makes it potentially risky during pregnancy.
It’s easy to get too hot while playing golf in the full sun. And while overheating isn’t a good idea for anyone, it’s particularly risky when you’re pregnant.
Research has found that body temperatures of 102°F and up can negatively affect your baby’s development. Pregnancy already raises your temperature, so exercising outdoors on a scorching day can push you into the danger zone.
Risk #3: Dehydration
Dehydration is another risk of outdoor exercise in hot weather. And this risk is also higher when you’re pregnant.
Your body needs more water when growing a brand new person. If you get all hot and sweaty playing golf in the sun (and perhaps also have morning sickness), you need to drink even more to keep your water balance healthy.
Now suppose you don’t keep your water levels topped up. In this case, you’ll become dehydrated. You can fix mild dehydration by drinking enough fluids. However, serious dehydration can stop your baby from developing properly or bring on early labor.
Risk #4: Overexertion
When pregnant, you share your oxygen, blood flow, and energy with your developing baby.
So, there’s less available to power your workouts. This might explain why activities that felt easy before you were pregnant tire you out now.
Pushing yourself too hard while exercising can leave you pooped and lacking the energy your baby needs to grow.
Is it safe to play golf throughout my pregnancy?
Again, only your doctor will know if golfing is safe for you at the different stages of your pregnancy. Many women can play during their first, second, and third trimesters without problems.
Before you head out, however, note these warnings for every pregnancy stage:
Warnings for the first trimester
Here’s what to watch out for in your early pregnancy:
- Your relaxin levels peak about 2 months into your pregnancy. This is when your ligaments are loosest, and your joints are most likely to get damaged if you overextend them.
- If your body temperature gets hotter than 102°F for more than 10 minutes during the first trimester, your baby’s development could be negatively affected, MedicalNewsToday cautions.
- New demands on your body (and morning sickness!) can drain your energy, making you feel more tired than usual.
- WebMD warns that exposure to weed killers commonly used on lawns (including golf courses) during early pregnancy can harm your baby’s development.
Warnings for the second trimester
Note these red flags for the middle stage of pregnancy:
- Your belly will probably be big enough to affect your posture and balance, making you need to watch your step.
- You might experience achy joints thanks to your shifting posture.
- You’ll likely notice you have less energy for exercise as your baby bump grows.
Warnings for the third trimester
This is what you should be aware of during the final stretch:
- You experience another relaxin peak during your third trimester, when your joints are once again at their loosest and most likely to get hurt.
- You’ll probably feel uncomfortable and sluggish as you count down until D (delivery) Day!
- You’ll be the hottest you’ve been during pregnancy, as your baby lets off the most heat during the third trimester.
Alert: If you experience any of these warnings signs while golfing – whether you’re at the start, middle, or end of your pregnancy – stop and see your doctor.
- Chest, abdominal, or pelvic pain
- Dizziness, faintness, or light-headedness
- Difficulty breathing
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge
- An irregular, fast, or slow heartbeat
- Trouble walking
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Vomiting or diarrhea
How to (safely) golf while pregnant
Now that you know the risks and warnings of golfing while pregnant, here’s your complete guide to playing safely.
I’ll share how to dodge every risk, so nothing spoils your golf course me-time.
How to avoid injury on the golf course
Here are 6 ways to minimize your injury risk while golfing:
- Warm up with gentle movements like arm circles before golfing and cool down afterward. Just five minutes should do the trick.
- Wear well-fitting, supportive shoes with a good grip.
- Take it easy when you swing your club. Remember, you need to protect your looser joints. Plus, find your balance before you swing! Use this precaution as extra motivation to stay out of the bunkers, where you’re more likely to have to swing like mad and potentially fall over than on the fairway and green.
- Perfect your golfing technique. A pro can teach you moves that protect against injury (and up your chances of hole-in-ones!).
- Keep your belly at least 4 club lengths away from players getting ready to hit their balls.
- Avoid deep knee bending when you reach for your ball. Consider using a putter suction cup to make your ball come to you instead.
How to avoid overheating on the Golf course
These are 3 ways to stay cool on the golf course:
- Don’t head out at the hottest part of the day (10 am to 4 pm), and skip golfing when it’s very hot or humid. Why not join the dawn patrol to miss the sun?
- Wear loose clothing made of breathable fabric and a hat, or use a sun umbrella. Plus, slather on sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Drink iced water from a thermos bottle.
How to avoid dehydration on the golf course
Here are 2 ways to stay nicely hydrated while you golf:
- Sip water before, during, and after golfing. Don’t forget to celebrate a good game with a long (alcohol-free) drink at The 19th hole!
- Ask your doctor what daily water goal you should aim for. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says you should drink eight to twelve 8oz glasses a day. Still, our water needs differ depending on the weather, our bodies, and what we’re doing. One way to tell if you must drink more water is to look at your urine. It should be clear or very light yellow. If it’s dark yellow and smelly, start sipping! Thirst, dizziness, urinating just a little, and a dry mouth are more dehydration symptoms.
How to avoid overexertion on the golf course
Don’t want to exhaust yourself on the golf course? These are 4 ways to avoid pushing yourself too hard:
- Listen to your body and its new pregnancy limits, and rest when you feel tired or weak. There’s no shame in jumping on the golf cart when you need a breather!
- Breathe deeply. Relax and take in the fresh air!
- Stick to low- to moderate-intensity movement. You should be able to chat easily while exercising.
- Take healthy snacks to nibble when you need an energy boost. Good options include baby carrots, string cheese, grapes, and trail mix.
If your pregnancy is going smoothly and your doctor gives you the go-ahead, feel free to hit some balls on the golf course!
You’re now clued up on the risks of golfing while pregnant and know what steps to take to stay safe. So, get out there and tee it up; the light activity and fresh air will likely do you and your growing baby good!
Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wolfitgolf and let me know if you’ve implemented any of these techniques to becoming a better golfer.