Many women enjoy paintball. It’s been growing in popularity for years. But should you play when you’re pregnant?
No, paintball is not safe while you’re pregnant. Between potential falls, injuries, strikes to the belly, and overheating, you risk hurting your unborn child.
Being pregnant is an exciting time in your life. You want what’s best for your baby. There are lots of fun things you can still do while pregnant. But there are several reasons why paintball is not one of them.
Important: Please consult your doctor before you even consider doing any paintballing while pregnant. The nature of paintball is that you run, jump and even fall often, not to mention getting hit (especially if you wouldn’t wear adequate protective gear).
Why Shouldn’t You Play Paintball
There are several reasons why paintball should be taken off your to-do list. Even if you feel you’ll be careful there are a lot of risks that can cause dire consequences.
- Tripping and falling
- Taking a paintball in the stomach
- Broken bones or strained ligaments
1. Tripping and falling
Paintball usually doesn’t take place on cleared, smooth land. There are usually mounds, rocks, and tree roots to run over. Most people can’t stay on their feet in normal conditions, let alone when carrying extra weight in one place.
Redistribution of body weight can alter your sense of balance. This can lead to an increase in falls. At any stage during a pregnancy, a fall is dangerous. A fall on the abdomen could damage the placenta. Damage to the placenta has a lot of potentially disastrous consequences. Some of these consequences include:
- Abnormal fetal development
- Premature delivery
- Fetal growth restriction
Falls during the late second trimester and early third trimester can be harmful to both you and your baby.
Falling is part of playing paintball. Everybody falls at one point during a game. That’s just how it is. Avoid the problems and don’t play while you’re pregnant.
Your core body temperature when you’re pregnant is higher than normal. That’s because your body is using more energy to carry your baby. This increases your chances of getting overheated. In conjunction, your body uses more energy when it tries to cool down. Symptoms you could develop include:
You could also develop life-threatening organ damage if your body overheats too much.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, your baby will be at risk for birth defects if your body temperature is too high during the first trimester. In fact, if your body’s temperature gets too high anytime during pregnancy, you chance a higher than normal risk of miscarriage.
While playing paintball, the potential to overheat is common. There is protective gear, combined with running. There is also a good deal of bending and jumping. All of these activities can raise your temperature. That puts you and your baby at a higher risk for developing problems.
Although paintball is not supposed to be a contact sport, it does happen. Everyone is running around looking for the next player to shoot. You may not be watching who’s coming up behind you or beside you. You don’t want to take a hit.
4. Taking a paintball in the stomach
No matter what anyone tells you, taking a paintball hurts. And it usually leaves a mark. In the first trimester, your fetus is protected somewhat by your pelvic bone. However, once the fetus moves higher there is a greater risk of damage. Your baby is vulnerable and can potentially be injured by a direct hit.
5. Broken bones or strained ligaments
When you’re pregnant, you are more susceptible to ligament and bone injury. This is due to the increased laxity of the joints. When playing paintball there are sudden stops and turns. This will put stress on these already stressed ligaments.
What to Do if You Play Paintball
So, you’ve heard all the warnings and still want to get out there. While it’s not recommended, if you’re going to do it, take extra precautions. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.
- Pad your belly as much as you can. Getting shot with a paintball marker is painful. Do what you can to protect your baby.
- Choose a field without too many obstacles. Find one that is pretty smooth, so you won’t trip.
- If you get hot, stop playing. Sit down in the shade or get into air conditioning and cool down.
- Drink plenty of water
Other Sports that Pregnant Women Should Avoid
Paintball isn’t the only sport that you should avoid if you’re pregnant. Basically, you should refrain from any sport where there’s a propensity to fall. Some of these sports include:
- Horse riding
- Downhill skiing
- Rock climbing
- Road cycling
Although road cycling is on the list, exercising on a stationary bike is acceptable. If you plan to cycle, always advise with your doctor about how much cycling is acceptable for you, with your particular pregnancy.
Contact or Collision Sports
You should also stay away from contact or collision sports that put you at risk of falls, injury and shots to the stomach. These sports include:
Some Other Activities to Steer Clear Of
Scuba diving isn’t safe while pregnant. You risk getting decompression sickness. It also increases your risk of miscarriage or of having a baby with birth defects.
High-altitude sports such as mountaineering at heights of 8,000 feet or more should be avoided. The change in oxygen levels puts you and your baby at risk for altitude sickness. So, you might want to avoid the Rocky Mountains if you’re new to them.
And if you decide to visit an amusement park, you can strike waterslides and just about every other ride off the list. They often have forceful landings. Rides usually have sudden speeding up or slowing down which could harm your baby.
What Kind of Exercise Can You Do?
The safest and most productive exercises for you are:
- Brisk walking
- Indoor stationary cycling
- Step machine
- Elliptical machine
- Low-impact aerobics (taught by certified aerobics instructor)
These are low-risk, low-impact exercises and can be continued until birth. Jogging can be done in moderation but only if you were doing it before you got pregnant. You will want to choose exercises that don’t require a lot of balance or coordination. The closer you get to delivering the worst your balance will get.
What Should be Included in a Pregnancy Exercise Program?
A program should strengthen and condition your muscles. It should include:
- 5 minutes warm-up
- 5 minutes stretching
- 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity
- 5-10 minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with stretching
Remember to measure your heart rate at peak times of activity.
Pregnancy Changes that May Affect Your Exercise Routine
The physical changes you’re going through create extra demands on your body. Listen to your body and adjust your activities according to its needs. Some of the changes taking place are:
- Your body requires more oxygen and energy
- Hormones produced cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch. This increases the likelihood of injury.
- Extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight shifts your center of gravity.
- Extra weight puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area. This makes it easier to lose your balance.
What Are Some Warning Signs You’re Exercising Too Much?
Please stop exercising and consult your health care provider if you:
- Feel chest pain
- Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain or persistent contractions
- Have a headache
- Notice a decrease or absence in fetal movement
- Feel faint, dizzy nauseous or light-headed
- Feel cold or clammy
- Have vaginal bleeding
- Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina or a trickle of fluid that leads steadily
- Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face or calf pain
- Are short of breath
- Have muscle weakness
- Have difficulty walking
The moral of this story is to go slow. You’re not in training; you just want to stay in shape and have fun. Enjoy this time of your life and take time to smell the flowers.