On Instagram, Real Madrid has 252.1 million followers, Barcelona has 250.3 million while Manchester United has 142 million.
This snapshot tells you how popular soccer is all over the globe. Interestingly, the popularity of female soccer is also on the rise.
Soccer players get a good cardio workout, fine-tune their agility, and strengthen leg muscles as they keep playing the game.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises pregnant women to exercise because it strengthens the heart and blood vessels which is good for maintaining efficient blood circulation.
It also has the potential of decreasing the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean delivery. So, considering the impact of soccer on the body, is it good for pregnant women? Read on to find out.
- Can you play soccer while pregnant?
- How to keep yourself and your baby safe when playing soccer while pregnant
- When to stop playing soccer while pregnant
Can you play soccer while pregnant?
Soccer is not one of the exercises that ACOG recommends for pregnant women. This is because of the risk of taking a hit in the abdomen.
Whether you can play soccer while pregnant depends on whether you have been playing soccer before becoming pregnant.
If you have not been playing soccer prior to becoming pregnant, it will be the wrong time to start. However, this is different for professional soccer players.
Professional female soccer players can still play but will need to speak with their doctors or midwife.
Several professional female soccer players have been spotted playing soccer even while pregnant.
For example, Sydney Leroux was seen in training for preseason in 2019 while six months pregnant. Alex Morgan, a US soccer professional was also spotted in training while seven months pregnant.
However, below are some of the reasons that can hinder you from playing soccer while pregnant.
1. The stage of the pregnancy
During the first trimester (1 – 12 weeks) the baby is still delicate and you need to drink plenty of water and wear loose, cool clothing.
Soccer players wear tight clothes for major tournaments and this may be inconvenient for your baby.
From the second and third trimester (13 – 40 weeks) the baby moves upward away from the protection of the pelvis. Therefore, during high contact sports like soccer, the baby may receive strong hits from the ball or from an opponent.
Also, the bodyweight moves forward from the second and third trimester increasing your risk of falling.
Ligaments become looser in the later part of pregnancy which increases your chances of developing ligament injuries.
For example, jumping to head the ball can lead to injury. Therefore, you need to avoid sports that involve sudden movements and changes in direction.
2. Increased risk of falling on your tummy
In soccer, players bump into one another from time to time and there is a higher chance that you may not be able to maintain your balance after the first trimester.
Falling on your tummy, taking a strong jab from a tackling opponent, or blocking a shot with your tummy can injure your growing baby.
3. Limiting blood flow to the uterus
Soccer pushes you to exhaustion which can boost athletic performance. However, when you are pregnant, this can reduce the flow of blood to the uterus.
As a rule of thumb, the right exercise should allow you to sing one round of “Happy Birthday” without gasping for air. If you cannot do this, the exercise is excessive.
Other conditions that will prevent you from playing soccer while pregnant
Certain medical conditions may keep you on the sideline for noncontact sports that are less risky when compared to soccer. Some of these conditions include:
- Problem with your liver, lungs, or heart
- Joint and bone problems
- Complications with a previous pregnancy
- Multiple births (having twins, triplets, or more)
Read more: Can I Play Soccer After Getting A Tattoo?
How to keep yourself and your baby safe when playing soccer while pregnant
Assuming your doctor or midwife gives you the nod to continue playing soccer with your pregnancy, there are a couple of things you need to do to keep yourself and the baby safe.
1. Take regular breaks
Early pregnancy signs often include fatigue. You may not have the stamina to go one soccer half of 45 minutes, talk more of 90 minutes. This is due to the rise in progesterone levels in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The fatigue may subside after the first trimester only to surface later on. Therefore, to avoid exhaustion and possible collapse, take more breaks—maybe at five or ten minutes intervals.
2. Avoid overheating
Pregnancy elevates body temperature. Therefore, you will likely feel hotter than usual irrespective of the season.
Hyperthermia may occur if core body temperatures rise above 101 degrees Fahrenheit. According to studies, extended hyperthermia in the first trimester may lead to oral cleft, Spina Bifida, heart defects, and anencephaly.
So, avoid playing soccer and wear loose clothes when the weather is too hot as this can increase the chances of hyperthermia.
3. Drink more water to stay hydrated
Pregnancy causes rapid changes that cause the body to utilize more energy. Therefore you need to supply more fluid to your body to prevent dehydration.
It is advised that you stop and rehydrate after every 15 minutes of exercise. Excessive caffeine and salt intake increase the risk of dehydration. Cutting down on their intake will allow your body to utilize fluids more efficiently.
When to stop playing soccer while pregnant
While it is still possible to keep playing soccer while pregnant, you need to pay closer attention to your body. Take a break from soccer and speak with your doctor or midwife as soon as you discover any of the following changes:
- Dizziness or fainting feeling
- Pain in the back, chest, or hips
- Higher than usual heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Decrease in baby movement
- Sudden swelling of the ankles, face, or hands
- Muscle weakness
- Having contractions
While exercising is good for pregnant women, it is always good to think about your safety while exercising—particularly with soccer. Work closely with your physician and report any changes to them.
Stop playing soccer immediately you notice vaginal bleeding or persistent contractions that refuse to abate even after you rest and drink water.
Remember, this is not the best time to attempt beating your personal record. Always stay comfortable, warm, and cool down before and after playing soccer.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!