Can You Play Pickleball While Pregnant Benefits, Risks, and When to Stop

Can you play pickleball while pregnant? This is a common question for moms-to-be who love the sport. The short answer is yes, you can play pickleball while pregnant, especially during the first two trimesters. However, as with any physical activity during pregnancy, there are some important factors to consider regarding safety, intensity level, overexertion, and listening to your body’s signals. Let’s look at the pros and cons of playing pickleball when expecting, as well as tips to stay active safely.

Benefits of Playing Pickleball While Pregnant

Playing pickleball while pregnant can be good for both you and your baby, as long as you do it safely. Here are some benefits:

Cardiovascular Health

Playing pickleball is like doing exercise that makes your heart and lungs stronger. It’s good for keeping your heart healthy and making sure your body gets enough oxygen. This is good not just for you but also for your baby.

Stress Relief

When you exercise, your body releases happy chemicals called endorphins. Pickleball is a social game, and being around friends and laughing can help reduce stress, making your mental health better. It helps you to stay active, keep fit, and socialize with others. But, during pregnancy, it’s important to make some changes and be careful on the pickleball court to stay safe.

Muscle Strength and Endurance

Moving your body in different ways, like starting and stopping, running fast, moving side to side, and swinging the paddle, helps make your muscles stronger. This can make your whole body stronger and give you more stamina. It’s like getting your body ready for when you have to do hard work, like during labor and delivery.

Improved Balance and Coordination

The agility required during a pickleball game enhances balance and reflexes. This can help prevent falls and improve stability as the belly grows.

Recommended Read: Top female pickleball players

Pregnant females playing pickleball.

Risks of Playing Pickleball While Pregnant

While pickleball has benefits, you need to weigh the potential risks too. Here are some to be aware of:

Risk of Falls and Injuries

The most obvious risk while playing any sport during pregnancy is falling down or getting hit by the ball which could potentially lead to injury. Avoiding overly aggressive play as well as wearing proper footwear can help reduce chances of falls.

Overexertion and Exhaustion

It’s important for pregnant women to pay attention to signs like feeling out of breath, dizzy, weak, or experiencing vaginal bleeding or contractions, which could mean you’re doing too much. Taking regular breaks gives you time to rest and recover.

Increased Joint Laxity

When a woman is pregnant, her body releases a hormone called relaxin. This hormone helps to loosen the joints and ligaments in her body to get ready for childbirth. Because of this, you’re more likely to get hurt while playing sports like pickleball, because your joints are more flexible and can easily get sprained or strained.

Heat and Overheating

A pregnant woman’s body temperature is already higher. Vigorous exercise can lead to dangerous levels of overheating which risks the health of both mom and baby. Staying well hydrated and playing at cooler times of day help avoid this.

By using common sense, making modifications, and taking safety precautions, the risk of injuries can be reduced. However, it’s always wise to review risks vs rewards of continuing pickleball during pregnancy with your doctor.

When Should Pregnant Women Stop Playing Pickleball?

Pickleball can be played safely during pregnancy, but at some point you’ll need to switch to lower-impact activities. Here are some general guidelines on when to stop:

3rd Trimester: Switch to gentler workouts like walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga. The extra weight puts strain on your back and joints. Risk of falls also increases.

If High-Risk Pregnancy: Your doctor may restrict activity earlier if you have pregnancy complications. Follow their specific advice.

When Uncomfortable: Stop playing pickleball if you experience pain, dizziness, swelling, cramping etc. Your body’s signals are your best guide.

Of course, every woman and every pregnancy is unique. If you face any issues or your doctor advises, you might need to stop playing pickleball before 20 weeks. However, some women can continue playing with adjustments if they feel okay. Stay in touch with your doctor throughout your pregnancy. They can advise if and when pickleball is no longer a good choice for you and your baby.

How much time do you play sports when pregnant?

When pregnant, experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which can be broken into smaller sessions. For pickleball, a good rule of thumb is:

Beginners: Start with 20-30 minutes a few times a week and gradually increase to 45-60 minutes as you build stamina.

Intermediate Players: Can likely continue playing 60-90 minutes at a time a few times per week.

Advanced Players: May be able to continue playing up to 2 hours at a time, but should reduce frequency to 2-3 times per week max.

Remember to include a warm up, cool down, and breaks. Drink water before, during and after. Stop and rest immediately if you feel pain, dizziness etc. Every pregnancy is unique, so consult your doctor.

Guidelines for Playing Pickleball Safely During Pregnancy

Here are some tips to reduce risks and play pickleball safely while pregnant:

Start Slow and Gradually Increase Intensity

If new to pickleball, start playing slowly and with limited duration to allow your body to adapt. Gradually increase pace and playing time.

Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Warm up before play by lightly jogging and doing dynamic stretches. Cool down afterwards with gentle movements.

Modify Your Game

Avoid quick sprints and sharp pivots that strain joints. Move in controlled motions.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during and after play to avoid dehydration and Braxton Hicks contractions.

Listen to Your Body

Do not play through pain. Stop activity if overtired. Monitor for warning signs to avoid overexertion.

Pace Yourself

Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue. You may tire earlier than normal during pregnancy.

Use Proper Footwear

Cushioned athletic shoes with good traction reduce injury risk from falls. Avoid playing barefoot.

Play Doubles

Doubles allows more rest between points. A partner can cover for you if needed.

Avoid Hot Conditions

Play indoors or in cooler weather to prevent overheating. Take breaks if feeling dizzy or overheated.

Explore the best pickleball paddles under $100 here.

Alternative Low-Impact Exercises for Pregnant Women

If pickleball becomes too challenging as your pregnancy progresses, here are some other great low-impact activities to stay active:


A daily walk improves cardiovascular health and circulation without stress on joints.


Swimming works the whole body with zero impact. Being weightless in water feels great during pregnancy.

Prenatal Yoga

Gentle yoga improves strength and balance while relaxing muscles. Avoid hot yoga or poses lying flat on your back.

Stationary Cycling

A stationary bike provides an excellent cardio workout without pressure on the joints or risk of falling.

Low-Impact Aerobics

Low-impact cardio classes focus on maintaining endurance with minimal jumping and joint stress.

Prenatal Pilates

Pilates strengthens core muscles, which assist with posture and labor. Focus on stability and control.

As always, consult with your doctor about appropriate activities during your pregnancy.

Consult Your Doctor

Every pregnancy is different, just like every woman is unique. It’s generally okay to exercise while pregnant, but it’s important to be careful and consider individual factors.

Before playing pickleball or doing any sports during pregnancy, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. Let them know about your fitness level, any pregnancy complications you may have, how you feel when you’re active, and any changes you plan to make to your routine.

Your doctor can look at your medical history and current health and tell you if it’s safe to keep playing pickleball while pregnant, and if so, how far along you can continue. It’s really important to listen to your doctor and follow their advice to stay safe and healthy during pregnancy.

FAQs on Playing Pickleball During Pregnancy

What sports should you avoid while pregnant?

The following sports should generally be avoided during pregnancy due to high risks of falls, collisions or abdominal trauma:

  • Hockey
  • Boxing
  • Skiing
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback Riding
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Racquetball
  • Kickboxing

What sports are good for pregnancy?

The safest sports for pregnant women include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Stationary Cycling
  • Prenatal Yoga
  • Lightweight Training
  • Pickleball (during first half)
  • Tennis (doubles)

Are there any specific clothing recommendations for playing Pickleball while pregnant?

  • Supportive, breathable athletic wear that allows freedom of movement
  • Maternity spandex leggings with a maternity tank or tee
  • Well-fitting supportive bra and moisture wicking socks
  • Rubber-soled athletic shoes for stability and traction
  • A maternity compression garment may add belly support
  • Choose loose, lightweight layers if playing outdoors

When should I stop playing Pickleball during pregnancy?

Most experts recommend stopping pickleball by 20 weeks or midway through pregnancy as risks increase. However, consult your doctor as this depends on your health status. Some women may need to stop sooner.

Can I play Pickleball during the first trimester?

Yes, playing pickleball during your first trimester is generally safe if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and your doctor approves. The first trimester is a good time to continue staying active.

Can playing Pickleball cause harm to my baby?

The risks from properly modified pickleball in early pregnancy are low. However, overexertion, overheating, abdominal trauma or falls later in pregnancy can potentially harm the baby. Always get your doctor’s guidance on playing safely.

Conclusion: Pickleball with Proper Precautions

Most healthy pregnant women can continue playing pickleball safely during the first half of pregnancy, though some modifications and precautions are needed. While the cardiovascular, muscle strengthening, social and mental benefits can be worthwhile, the risks of falls, overexertion, and joint/muscle injury do rise, especially as pregnancy progresses.

Working with your doctor to monitor your individual health status and set limitations on intensity and duration is key. Listening carefully to any warning signs from your body and exercising common sense regarding safety is also important. Staying well-hydrated and making appropriate changes allows pregnant pickleball players to keep enjoying the sport temporarily but drop out when it no longer seems sensible.

In the later stages of pregnancy as mobility decreases and fatigue sets in, switching to low-impact activities like swimming, walking, yoga or stationary biking allows you to maintain fitness levels while supporting the strains and changes of pregnancy.

The bottom line is pickleball can usually be played safely during the first and early second trimesters of pregnancy. But by mid-pregnancy most women choose to stop playing due to increased discomfort and safety risks. Always consult your doctor, do not overexert, and prioritize the well-being of you and your baby above all else!

If you’re curious about the top men’s pickleball players to watch out for in 2024, this article may be worth exploring.

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