Engaging in Dangerous Physical Activity While Pregnant: Irresponsible or Awesome?

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39 weeks and still climbing!

We all know it’s important to continue to exercise while pregnant. Of course pregnant women swim, run and enjoy moderate activities like yoga and dance from conception through the birth of their child. But would you engage in more dangerous physical activity, like rock climbing or skydiving? Apparently many women do, without any fear of harming the child inside them.

Jezebel just posted what they dub an “awesome” video of a woman, 8 months pregnant, climbing the face of a rock. I’m not talking about hiking up a mountain on a path, mind you. I’m talking about climbing a mountain suspended by a rope. Quoth Jezebel, “Not content to mellow out with prenatal yoga and other gentler forms of exercise, Amy Roseboro, a 36-year-old physical therapist and total badass, spends her leisure time scaling extreme rock face at Joshua Tree National Park.”

I was a bit taken aback at the idea of a woman in her final trimester taking such a physical risk (this from a lady who questioned Beyonce’s intense high-heeled dancing in her first/second trimester), so I decided to do some research. (And by research, I mean I typed “rock climbing pregnant woman” into YouTube.) Turns out, Amy Roseboro is not the only largely pregnant woman who likes to scale shale. Here’s a video of Carrie Cooper – at 39 weeks pregnant – climbing up the side of an enormous rock. Cooper says, “I believe that life is about living gracefully through the transitions. I have climbed the world over for the last 10 years and developed a keen sense of my body and its strengths. As a healthy expectant mother I continued to listen to the needs of my body.” Take a look:


And get this – according to Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong website, “many women have jumped out of a plane when pregnant with both the women and their offspring surviving the adventure.” I can’t imagine why anyone would jump out of a plane while pregnant, especially because though “high altitude or stress are not a risk factor,” the “normal risks of skydiving can be quite dangerous, including jolts when your parachute opens and hard landings. Your joints soften during pregnancy, so the jolts and landings might put you at an even higher risk of injury.” posted a photo yesterday of Elsa Pataky, wife of Thor star Chris Hemsworth, going down a steep waterslide while pregnant. Readers were torn about whether or not this type of behavior is appropriate. Somehow sliding seems less dangerous to me than mountain climbing, but I understand people’s concern.

I also realize one could argue that driving a car while pregnant could be considered a dangerous sport, since driving comes with inherent risks. Additionally, there are other non-athletic activities pregnant women can engage in that are considered risky behavior like smoking (really, don’t do it) and drinking (I did it and everything turned out fine), so it’s clear there’s more than one way to potentially harm a pregnancy.

I relate to the idea of pregnant women being strong, because when I was carrying my daughter, I felt more vital than at any other time in my life. And of course the type of women who want to go rock climbing and jump out of planes with a baby on board are skilled at these things; common sense dictates that trying anything dangerous for the first time while PG is a bad idea. Maybe the reason I find it so jarring to watch pregnant women climb rocks is because for so long pregnant women were encouraged to be gentle with themselves, to consider themselves in a fragile state, and to some extent that notion is pervasive even today.

What do you think? Is engaging in intense physical activity while pregnant irresponsible or awesome?


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