If you played tennis before your pregnancy, you probably considered it the perfect way to stay fit while having fun. Unlike running on the treadmill or lifting weights, tennis combines cardio and muscular exercise in a fun way. Playing tennis actually burns more calories than other exercises such as cycling and skating. If you were an avid tennis player and recently became pregnant, you might think you need to give it up for a while to keep your growing baby safe. However, some studies show that tennis is not actually that harmful up to certain point during your pregnancy. In fact, it can be beneficial in some ways.
Of course, the major benefit of playing tennis during the first two trimesters of your pregnancy is that you’ll be exercising. Maternal weight gain due to inactivity during pregnancy can have seriously negative side effects both for you and your baby, so it’s important to exercise and maintain a healthy weight and fitness level. Tennis during pregnancy might also help offset the bone loss that is common during pregnancy. When you are pregnant, much of your calcium is absorbed by your fetus and not by your bones. Because tennis puts impact on your joints and limbs, calcium is absorbed easier and bone loss is less common.
However, as your baby bump starts to get bigger, you should be more careful on the tennis court. Your center of gravity will be off, so there is an increased risk that you could fall and seriously injure your little one. You could also be hit in the stomach by flying balls, and you should try avoiding all belly contact as your baby is growing. If you are hit in the stomach or fall on your belly, you could cause the placenta to detach and go into premature labor.
If you’ve never stepped on a tennis court before your pregnancy, now is not the time to try. Wait until you’ve given birth and are ready to work off that baby fat if you want to try it out for the first time. If you were a tennis player before you became pregnant, rest assured that you can continue playing as long as you are comfortable. There are more risks as you enter your third trimester, but as long as you don’t push yourself too hard, there is a good chance you will not harm your baby.
Source: Mina Dimov et al: Bone Mineral Loss During Pregnancy: Is Tennis Protective? Journal of Physical Activity and Health Volume 7 239-245 2010