Pregnancy is a time of great joy and excitement, but also a time of uncertainty, and many women have concerns over whether they will be able to continue their favorite activities.
In particular, many pregnant women often worry about the safety of playing sports – they fear that the impact of hitting the ball or falling from a jump could harm them or their baby.
Bowling in particular can be a cause of concern for many women, so we took a closer look at the safety of bowling while pregnant, and the things you should be aware of.
What Is Bowling?
Bowling is a game in which the goal is to knock down pins with a ball. There are two main types of bowling – ten-pin bowling (also known as alley bowling) and bumper bowling.
In ten-pin bowling, there are 10 pins arranged in a line across the lane. Each player rolls a single ball towards the pins, trying to knock them over.
In bumper bowling, the pins are placed along the edge of the lane and each player tries to roll their ball into the gutter.
Ten Pin Bowling
Ten-pin bowling is played on a flat surface such as a wooden floor or concrete. The lanes are usually made from wood and have a width of approximately 20-24 inches. The balls used in ten-pin bowling are usually plastic and weigh about 6 ounces.
The Ten Pin Bowling Game
In ten-pin bowling, players must score points by knocking down the pins. To do this, they must strike the ball with the end of the fingertips of their bowling hand. Players can bowl either left-handed or right-handed. They then step forward to retrieve the ball.
As they step forward, they throw the ball back while simultaneously rolling it forwards. The ball travels through the air until it strikes the pins and knocks them over. After striking the pins, the bowler steps back and waits for their turn to come up again.
To score points, the bowler must attempt to knock down pins. A point is awarded for each pin that is felled, and extra points are awarded if you knock them all down in one go – a strike – or over the course of your two turns.
A History of Bowling
Bowling is a sport with a rich, extensive history that is thought to date back over 5000 years, with evidence that this is an activity that was popular amongst the ancient Egyptians. Since then, bowling has continued to grow and develop, with the earliest recorded game in 4AD, held in Paderborn, Germany.
Here, bowling was placed in the cloisters of certain cathedrals and took the form of a religious ceremony or activity. There were nine pins, known as Kegels, adn these were designed to symbolize the heathen spirits, known as the “Heide ”.
Parishioners then placed all nine pins on one side of the cloister and rolled their balls at the “Heide ”. The goal was to hit the pins – this would show that they were capable of beating and banishing the heathen spirits and that their hearts were pure.
Over time, the game continued to evolve, and the number of pins ranged from three to seventeen as the game traveled through Asia, Europe, and beyond, until 1366, which saw the first written record of bowling in England. Here, the game was played outdoors on a bowling green and was a popular pastime amongst all classes.
King Edward III became frustrated with the manner in which bowling could distract soldiers from their archery practice and banned the sport – but this only served to increase its popularity.
King Henry VIII tried to regain control, in 1511, amending the ban to include the nobility, and it was not until 1845 that the ban was lifted; prior to this, the sport continued to be popular, albeit illegally. behind closed doors.
The nineteenth-century saw the evolution of skittles – this was a game played on smooth surfaces or dirt or tabletops, and which included nine skittles. The activity is often deemed the direct predecessor of modern bowling.
The seventeenth century saw bowling reach New York City, according to a reproduction of a painting found in the New York City’s Bettmann Archives, which appears to show Dutch immigrants throwing bowling balls in the city, on the aptly- named Bowling Green, and the sport grew in popularity through the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
The nineteenth-century saw the arrival of skittles, also known as ninepins, and gamblers were making money from the activity by 1850.
September 9, 1895, saw the birth of the American Bowling Congress, which first took place at Beethoven Hall, New York City, and this was the start of the standardization of tenpin bowling as we now recognize it today.
This also saw a change in the material of bowling balls; while they had previously been made of a hardwood known as lignum vitae, 1905 saw the introduction of the “Evertrue” bowling ball.
This, combined with quality wooden lanes, saw a bowling boom, and the so-called “Golden Age of Bowling ” flourished from the ’40s to the 70’s, with television bringing the game to the homes of millions.
The International Bowling Association was first formed in 1926 and helped to bring together and create international amateur competitions, while the American Junior Bowling Congress (1946) and the Young American Bowling Alliance (1982) helped to make the sport accessible to younger players.
Later, the Professional Bowling Association and the Professional Women’s Bowling Association were formed, increasing popularity, and this led to the birth of the PBA National Championships – now known as the PBA World Championships, From here, bowling has continued to remain popular, and is a must-try pastime for millions.
Is It Safe To Exercise During Pregnancy?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all pregnant women engage in some form of exercise throughout pregnancy, as it helps to maintain physical fitness, improve muscle tone, reduce stress levels, and promote overall health.
Despite the need to be cautious, there is plenty of evidence that exercising during pregnancy is actually beneficial for both mothers and babies, and some of the main advantages include:
- Improving blood flow to the placenta, which improves fetal oxygen supply
- Increasing energy production by the heart, lungs, and muscles, which allows the body to better cope with the demands of pregnancy.
- Reducing stress levels, which can help prevent premature contractions and other complications of pregnancy.
- Strengthening the immune system, which protects against infection and disease.
- Helps to keep the uterus healthy and strong, which reduces the likelihood of miscarriage.
- Improving mood and sleep patterns, which can make a huge difference to how well you feel during this important stage of life.
How Can I Play Bowling If I Am Pregnant?
If you are worried about the safety of bowling when you are pregnant, you don’t have to give up on your love of the game! There are ways to play safely without putting yourself or your unborn child at risk. Here are some tips for ensuring that you stay active and enjoy your favorite pastime:
As mentioned above, there are certain activities that are known to increase the risk of injury during pregnancy, including contact sports. So, before starting out, talk to your doctor first to find out what type of activity is best suited to your situation.
Be Aware Of Your Body
It is very important to pay attention to your own body during pregnancy so that you do not overdo things. This includes being aware of changes in your posture and movements, and listening to your body when it tells you something isn’t right. If you notice any unusual aches or pains, stop immediately and consult your physician.
Know When To Stop
You should never push yourself too hard when you are pregnant. If you start feeling tired or uncomfortable, take a break from exercise until you feel better. Also, if you experience any symptoms of an illness or infection, stop exercising immediately.
Consider Other Options
There are many different forms of physical activity that do not involve a direct impact on the body. For example, swimming, walking, dancing, yoga, and cycling all offer gentle exercises that will not pose any risks to either you or your baby.
Choose A Lighter Ball
One of the most important things to help keep you and your baby safe when bowling during pregnancy is to make sure that you are choosing the lightest ball possible. This will still allow you to enjoy your activity, without concerns that you are lifting a weight that is too heavy for you.
Use Proper Footwear
While wearing proper footwear is always essential to reduce the risk of a slip or fall. Bowling lanes are usually treated with oils to help the ball flow more easily, and this can make the surface smooth and slippery.
It is also important to wear comfortable shoes while bowling; the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your shoes are going to slip off as you go down the lane.
While drinking plenty of water throughout the day is beneficial for everyone, it is especially important for pregnant women who may be prone to dehydration.
Make sure that you drink enough water to ensure that you stay hydrated – you may also need to up your hydration levels when you are taking part in physical activity, as you can sweat more.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has published guidelines regarding safe activities during pregnancy. They include recommendations for pregnant women to avoid strenuous activities such as running, jumping, climbing, diving, and skiing.
However, they do note that these guidelines are based on studies conducted at least 20 years ago and that new research shows that some types of exercise might actually be safer than others.
Listen To Your Body
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask your obstetrician or midwife. They know your medical history and can advise you on how to proceed safely.
What Exercises Should I Avoid When Pregnant?
As we have seen, there are a number of benefits to exercising when pregnant; you can improve your overall health and wellbeing, as well as that of your baby, and regular exercise can also have benefits for an easier, less painful labor.
There are certain exercises that may pose more risk than others during pregnancy. For example, jumping jacks, running, lifting weights, and swimming are generally considered safe forms of exercise if you are working on consultation with your doctor and trainer, whereas contact sports like football, basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, and boxing are not recommended, particularly during the later stages of pregnancy.
There are two main reasons why these types of sports are not recommended:
- They put extra strain on the joints and ligaments of the pelvis and lower back, which can lead to premature birth or even miscarriage. The increased pressure on the abdomen can also cause problems such as preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, and preterm labor.
- Women who participate in contact sports are much more likely to suffer injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, and internal bleeding. These injuries can then lead to complications like miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births, and low-birth-weight babies.
Some of the main types of sports and activities that should be avoided during pregnancy include:
High Impact Sports
It is a good idea to try and avoid high-impact sports during your pregnancy; this includes contact sports like football and rugby, as well as other sports that involve frequent collisions between players. These kinds of activities put stress on the joints and ligaments, which could lead to injuries during delivery.
Strenuous exercise should also be avoided during pregnancy, as it puts pressure on the uterus and can cause premature contractions. If you feel that you must exercise vigorously, then you should take it easy until after your third trimester.
Weightlifting is another type of exercise that should be avoided during pregnancy. The reason behind this is because it places extra strain on the muscles and joints, which can lead to injury.
How Can I Keep My Baby Safe During Physical Activity?
There are many ways that you can keep your baby safe during physical activity, and these include:
Choose The Right Clothing
First of all, you will want to make sure that you are properly fitted for your maternity clothes so that you can move around comfortably. This means choosing clothing that fits correctly and does not restrict movement.
Wear Appropriate Shoes
You will also want to wear comfortable shoes that fit well and are suitable for walking. Remember that your feet may swell more than usual during pregnancy, so it is important to choose the right shoes.
During pregnancy, you need to drink plenty of water. Make sure that you drink enough throughout the day, but especially before and after physical activity.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
When lifting things, make sure that you use proper techniques. For example, if you lift something by holding onto the top, rather than using both hands, you run the risk of dropping it. Also, never carry heavy objects in one hand only, as this can increase the chance of back pain.
Do Not Push Too Hard
Pushing too hard when working out can result in muscle cramping, soreness, and an inability to perform at peak levels. When doing physical activity, you should always pay attention to what you are doing.
If you feel yourself getting tired quickly, stop immediately and rest. You should also make sure that you stretch before and after exercising.
Bowling is a fun, fast-paced sport that can help you to stay in shape, have fun, and form long-lasting friendships – and there is no reason that you should have to give these things up during pregnancy!
Provided that you are careful and sensible, and follow all advice offered by your midwife, you should be able to enjoy bowling through the duration of your pregnancy with no concern or ill effects.