A common question I am asked by expecting mothers is “can you play golf while pregnant?”
Technically, you can do anything you want. The more pertinent question is should you swing a club while pregnant. In this article, I explain whether you should play and until what stage of pregnancy.
In addition, I provide tips and precautions to help keep you and your baby healthy.
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Can You Play Golf While You’re Pregnant?
For most women playing golf while pregnant is not a problem, it is actually beneficial. However, that depends on your specific case. While the workout is encouraged, hip and shoulder rotation can put your back out at a time when you need to look after yourself and your precious cargo.
Besides the risk of back, hip, and shoulder injuries, heat poses a threat to a pregnant golfer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that pregnant women drink eight to twelve glasses of water a day. If you drink plenty of water religiously, you won’t find it challenging to keep yourself hydrated.
Sufficient water is only one part of keeping yourself safe in the heat, I suggest you avoid teeing off on sweltering days. Firstly, if you catch heatstroke, you put yourself and your baby at risk, and secondly, it causes serious fatigue.
However, if you avoid this advice, it is worth taking a golf cart in warm conditions. The reduced stress lowers the risk of swelling feet and ankles, keeping you comfortable and free of pain.
Ultimately, you can play golf while you are pregnant. You just need to be extra cautious to avoid injuring yourself or risking your baby’s health. Before you pick up your clubs and head out with the girls, consult your doctor to ensure you are cleared to tee off.
To demonstrate that it is possible to play golf while pregnant, we only need to look at Catriona Matthew. In 2009, while five months pregnant with her second child, she stormed to a five-shot victory at the HSBC LPGA Brazil Cup.
Does The Trimester Matter?
Trillium Rose is the Director of Instruction at Woodmont Country Club. In 2018, she wrote an article detailing her experience as a pregnant golfer. Rose explained that besides the physical changes of her body, it was her energy that hampered her ability to play.
She explains that in her first trimester, she had minimal energy and wanted to sleep most of the time. As you can imagine, that impacted her motivation, and she did not have the will to play golf like before.
When she did play, she was cautious not to grip it and rip it, like days gone by. She felt like she needed to slow down her golf swing for low impact to protect her young one. But Rose says that it did not affect her mechanics and required no swing adjustments.
Trillium found she had more energy in her second trimester but could notice the changes to her body. As time progressed in that trimester, she felt her center of mass lower, and the additional weight worked to keep her posture through the swing.
Furthermore, her joints began to loosen at this point, and she was hesitant to over-extend her swing for fear of injuring herself.
Rose further states that the third trimester is where you realize you need to slow down with any intense exercise.
The excessive weight gain around the belly reduced her ability to optimize hip rotation. As a result, she decided to stand more upright and bend from her knees to increase power on the downswing.
Furthermore, Trillium found that bending down became unbearable to place her tee in the ground and pick up her ball from the cup.
Tips and Precautions to Keep You and Your Baby Safe
I have already touched on the importance of keeping hydrated during your round. As ACOG suggests, pregnant women should drink eight to twelve glasses of water per day.
On days that you play, you will likely need more than usual. Blair O’Neal found optimal hydration boosted her energy and limited fatigue while playing:
Nine holes only takes two and a half hours, but you are now eating for two. Blair O’Neal found that keeping her favorite snacks in the bag during her round maximized her energy to avoid fatigue and perform to the best of her ability.
Before you tee off, you definitely need to warm up. However, O’Neal suggests only hitting a couple of balls to loosen the muscles and then making your way to the first tee. A long warm-up is generally encouraged, but it will tire you out and hamper your ability to play a full round.
Putter Suction Cup
A putter suction cup is typically associated with older men with pot bellies. However, it is handy for those going through pregnancies. The instructions are simple. Attach the cup to the top of your putter grip, and press onto the ball to suck it up. All you do is lift the cup to your hand and grab the ball.
Eliminating the need to bend over and collect the ball is one movement less that could impact your health and that of your baby.
Although walking improves your heart rate and is one of the safe exercises, it is not suggested on super warm days. Exposure to the sun for several hours increases your risk of heatstroke, sunburn, and dehydration. If you already struggle with fatigue, I advise that you take a golf cart instead.
Consult Your Doctor
Golf is certainly not a dangerous sport like downhill skiing, gymnastics, or horseback riding. However, there are still risks associated with the game. That is why, before you pack your bag for the golf course, you must visit your doctor.
While they will likely welcome your enthusiasm to exercise, golf may not suit your condition during pregnancy. However, plenty of women have played golf while pregnant and suffered no complications.