Can You Play Soccer While Pregnant?

Pregnancy comes with a number of restrictions from the normal routine. So, can one play soccer while pregnant? This guide has the answers.

Yes, you can play soccer while pregnant. This is more so during the first trimester. However, you should do this with caution and there are some limitations that come with the same. You should play soccer with limited contact and avoid collisions by all means.

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Can You Play Soccer While Pregnant

Can You Play Soccer While In Pregnancy?

Yes, playing soccer while pregnant comes with potential benefits for you and your baby. Lower-risk soccer activities will help you to remain active before, during, and after pregnancy. Doctors recommend pregnant women to avoid a sedentary lifestyle as this could have harsh consequences to their health. However, this should be done with caution since not every physical activity is safe to undertake while pregnant.

Female footballers can remain active in pregnancy by engaging in limited contact and collision exercise. One of the most important things is to avoid the ball directly hitting the baby bump.  

This article takes a closer look at the benefits of soccer training while pregnant, the risks associated with it, and useful tips for staying safe.

Playing Soccer in the First Trimester

It is safer to play soccer during the first trimester as opposed to the second and third trimesters. Minimal soccer exercise can help you remain active, leading to better sleep, reduce pain, maintaining muscle, and a healthy weight. Moderate exercise during pregnancy has also been linked with a reduced risk of gestational diabetes. In addition, you can take advantage of your love for soccer to maintain regular activity which helps with shorter labor, prevents complications, and lowers the chances of a C-section.

One of the best ways to play soccer while pregnant is one on one passing with one or two people. You can also do short sprints, free kick drills, dribbling drills with cones, ladder drills, or shutter run drills. If you are playing alone, kicking the ball against a wall would be ideal.

Try as much as possible not to play with an opponent team as this will place you at a greater risk of collisions and ball kicks. As you are aware, taking part in a competition comes with intense activity and the motivation to win. This may not be good for your health. However, if you must play against a team, ensure that you minimize contact with the other players. This will lower the likelihood of collisions that can lead to serious injuries.

The other thing to keep in mind when getting into the field during your pregnancy journey is that breaks are paramount. It is highly recommended to take regular breaks to avoid exhaustion. Otherwise, you are likely to collapse if you go the entire 90 minutes without breaks in between. What’s more, taking breaks allows you to drink water in order to remain hydrated, which is essential while pregnant. You can also take a healthy snack to re-energize yourself. 

Pregnancy and its symptoms can be different for everyone. Hence, it helps to feel and listen to your body when you are playing soccer. Always take a break and consult a doctor if you feel that something is unusual or uncomfortable. If you feel tired, don’t force yourself as this could put you and your pregnancy at risk. Also, try not to play excessively as this can raise your body temperature.

Risks Associated with Playing Soccer While Pregnant

Most sports activities come with some risks and soccer is not an exemption. This is especially true if you play soccer after the first trimester since the uterus is now above the pelvis. Being a high-contact sport, the baby may be susceptible to hits from the opponent or the ball itself. 

The other concern about playing soccer while pregnant is the increased risk of physical trauma. Usually, this can occur from falls or collisions during training or in the actual game. You are likely to fall on your tummy after the first trimester because of a lack of balance. This can also be a result of increased body weight. Consequently, this can lead to other injuries for both you and your unborn child. For example, ligament injuries are common since the ligaments tend to become loose during the third trimester.

Whether playing for semi-professional soccer leagues like USL League 2 or major tournaments, soccer requires a lot of strength, stamina, and endurance. It also involves a lot of irregular movements, which can be very exhausting for pregnant women. When this happens, you are likely to suffer from shortness of breath and reduced blood flow to the uterus. According to research, women who experience lower levels of blood flow to the uterus have an increased risk of miscarriage. Therefore, as stated earlier, it is paramount that you avoid high intense activity when you are playing.

Also, playing excessively can overheat your body, which is dangerous for your pregnancy. This is true if you are playing soccer and running against opponents in warm weather. Not only will this dehydrate you but also make you dizzy and lead to other health conditions.

Can You Play Soccer After Pregnancy?

Yes, just like playing soccer during pregnancy, it is possible to exercise and play sports after pregnancy. However, it’s good to note that every woman is different and may handle returning to the field after pregnancy quite differently. For this reason, it helps to listen to your body and take time to fully recover and heal. This will not only ensure that you get adequate time to bond with your newly born but also reduces the chances of injury since you would have gained back strength. If you have specific concerns on what you should do, its always advisable to contact the doctor.

Professional Soccer Players That Have Played While Pregnant

According to FIFA chief women’s football officer, Sarai Bareman, female footballers must continue playing soccer while still maintaining a family. Although rare, there have been cases of female footballers continuing with training during pregnancy and returning to the field shortly after birth. Here are renowned professional female footballers who maintained physical activity during pregnancy and immediately after pregnancy. 

Alex Morgan

A renowned soccer player that did not end her career with pregnancy is Alex Morgan. The U.S. star who plays for the US Women’s National Team and won a trophy at the FIFA Women’s World Cup shared a video on her Twitter page showing her training while 7 months pregnant. In the video, the star is seen doing non-contact drills that involve passing and shooting. Five weeks after delivering her child, Morgan was back on the field.

Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux, who plays as the Orlando Pride forward, also continued with training throughout her pregnancy journey. In response to concerned fans, Sydney was quick to clarify that she was only participating in non-contact and avoided high-intensity running. She also mentioned that it’s important to see that one can have a family and a career and that life doesn’t have to stop. Sydney later joined the USWNT Tokyo 2020 team three months after giving birth.

Key Takeaways

  • Playing soccer as an exercise is good for both mother and the baby.
  • You can continue playing soccer while pregnant as long as you take precautions. Ensure that you consult with your doctor to know if it’s safe for your pregnancy.
  • Taking regular breaks, drinking plenty of water, and taking a healthy snack are vital for keeping you and your baby safe while playing soccer while pregnant.
  • Playing soccer after pregnancy may or may not work for some women. The trick is to listen to your body and consult your doctor.
  • Playing high-impact, contact soccer after the first trimester can expose you to the risk of miscarriage.