Catriona Matthew won the 2009 HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup while five months pregnant. Myra Blackwelder played in the 1987 Kraft Nabisco--a major championship--when she was nearly seven months pregnant, tying for 33rd. And with her due date just five weeks away, Blackwelder finished 16th in an LPGA event in Florida. Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz and Hee-Won Han all played LPGA events while pregnant. For women who played golf before they got pregnant--and not just tour players--continuing to play is just par for the course.
Golf is great exercise for a pregnant woman, especially if you walk. Low-impact golf works your core and helps improve your stability and balance, which is compromised during pregnancy, according to Pregnancy Today. MayoClinic.com recommends pregnant women exercise every day, which can help prevent excessive weight gain, reduce the chance of gestational diabetes and increase strength and endurance in preparation for labor. In addition, being outside and exercising can be a real mood lifter, which can be very helpful during this emotional roller coaster.
As your body changes and your ligaments loosen, your balance decreases and the risk of falls increases. This is especially tricky on a golf course, which has hills, valleys, gouges in the ground and tripping hazards (tee box markers, distance markers, rakes and grounds crew equipment). Whether you’ve been playing golf for years or are new to the sport, get your doctor's approval before grabbing the clubs. And as always, stretch before hitting your first drive of the day.
The baby’s safety is of utmost importance, so it’s vital to stay hydrated. The demands on your body require more liquids, so drink plenty of fluids. Preterm labor, constipation, fatigue and even miscarriage can result from dehydration, according to the American Pregnancy Association. A pregnant woman should drink eight to 12 glasses of fluid a day, even more if you’re exercising, the APA says. Heat can also raise medical issues for you and the baby, so avoid playing when it's hottest. And if you fatigue easily or you’re nearing the end of your term, consider a cart instead of walking.
With your pregnant body changing practically by the day, you may have to adjust your game. If you’re a “grip-it-and-rip it” gal, you may need to change your mantra to slow and easy, which could actually improve your game. Teeing up your ball, marking your putts and grabbing the ball out of the hole will become more awkward as your belly grows. If you use a belly putter, forget about it--you’ll need to use a shorter one. And before you start your round, map out all the bathroom locations.
Get your rounds in while you can, because it will be more difficult to hit the links after your baby arrives. You’ll be too exhausted, fatigued and feeling out of sorts for a while after giving birth, and golf will be the last thing on your mind. But if you do get a chance to break away from the baby to golf and enjoy some “me time,” bring your breast pump so you can pump in the locker room after your round.