Can You Kayak While Pregnant?
At a glance, kayaking and pregnancy are on two ends of the spectrum. At the risk of sounding stereotypical, the former is a physically intensive activity.
On the contrary!
The latter is one of the most vulnerable and beautiful stages in a woman’s life.
If you are one of those amazing women who love to kayak and is expecting a child, it is quite natural to question whether you can combine the two safely.
Your priority is taking the utmost care of yourself and the precious child. But your passionate heart for the open waters can be just as insatiable.
Have you been asking this question lately? Welcome! You have come to the right place. Allow me to take you along this post as we find out the answer to this question.
Standard disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and you should consult your personal physician before undertaking any questionable activity during pregnancy.
Is it safe to kayak while pregnant?
Although a general consensus seems to be a resounding yes, I personally think there is no straightforward answer.
This is notwithstanding the fact that I am a male and totally incapable of deciding what a pregnant woman can or cannot do. I leave that up to all the extraordinary women out there!
However, as an avid kayaker and father of six beautiful daughters, I feel that I have valid reasons why I am not willing to bluntly say that you can go out kayaking while pregnant.
Here is my explanation.
Whether you can go kayaking or not while pregnant depends on a lot of factors. These include:
The stage of your pregnancy
The stage of your pregnancy dictates a lot of activities that you can do or cannot do. The same applies to kayaking. If you are past your second trimester, then you have to cut down on a lot of strenuous physical activity.
It also depends on if you have had prior complications with previous births. Doing sonography for 10+ years, I have seen many women prescribed bed rest at the end of their pregnancy.
Kayaking is a demanding activity that requires a top physical form. While kayaking, you may also be required to carry the kayak, which is not ideal for your body at this stage.
Then, of course, some women also have it worst in the first trimester. Some can have a severe form of hyperemesis gravidarum, where vomiting and nausea can make pregnancy miserable.
This can be exacerbated by any type of motion, including kayaking in the water.
Some pregnancies are also considered high-risk. Your doctor is the most qualified person who can give you this answer.
However, if your pregnancy is deemed to be high-risk, there is no reason to consider kayaking during this fragile state.
But if you are not well advanced in your pregnancy, and you do not have health problems, you can kayak while pregnant. But there will still be potential risks, as they’re usually are whether you are pregnant or not.
The type of kayaking
Another factor that you should take into consideration is the type of kayaking that you have in mind.
Some types of kayaking inherently involve more danger than others, irrespective of whether you are pregnant or not.
If you are talking about having a leisurely paddle in calm waters, then you might be able to get away with kayaking.
This, of course, is assuming you are not well advanced in your pregnancy.
But if you are talking about winter kayaking or kayaking down a rapid, then I would advise against it.
I wouldn’t say that my opinion is the ultimate answer. But ask yourself if the thrill of paddling down a frothy river for the adrenaline rush is worth risking the precious soul you are carrying.
And getting back in the kayak after a spill can be tricky.
The type of water body
Some water bodies are calmer than others by nature. Since I kayak very frequently in the Snake River, I will cite this is an example.
This river is a kayaker’s paradise, but it is also very windy in the canyon at times and can test your skills and your body.
Some features, such as the Shoshone Falls, where I frequent, are definitely not for a pregnant woman. At least not if you get too close. (There are no barricades.)
The best tip I can offer is to find calm water bodies where you can paddle safely. An excellent example is kayaking on the Hudson River.
Water bodies like this can give you the required physical exercise to stay active without compromising your safety.
Other water bodies that you can kayak while pregnant are Folsom Lake and Loon Lake. If you live around the area or have access to it, I would say they are pretty safe for recreational kayaking, even if you are pregnant.
Tips for safe kayaking while pregnant
If you feel confident that you can go kayaking while pregnant, the next plan of action is safety. Some top tips you can follow are:
- PFD – I have been talking about this, and I will continue to do so. This is the single most crucial device that can protect your life. It is never wise to go out kayaking without a Personal Floatation Device, whether you are pregnant or not.
- Sun protection – This includes a high spectrum of SPF, sunglasses, and hats. These items are one of the bonus suggestions in my 5 Things You Must Have post.
- Water and snacks – Pack extra bottles of water and snacks even if you anticipate going out for a short duration on the water.
- Never go out alone – I have gone kayaking solo and I must admit, it was very unnerving. The idea of being the only one on the water was rewarding yet the danger of having nobody near to help me in case of an emergency was daunting. Always ask a kayaking partner to accompany you during your adventure into the waters.
- Take it easy – Considering that you have a lifetime to keep kayaking, a period of nine months isn’t so bad to go without. You can kayak all you want after you have delivered the baby and recovered.
An occasional recreational paddling or kayak fishing for a couple of hours while pregnant is absolutely fine. But pushing your body to its limits during these months can come at the expense of your health and the baby’s as well.
So if you do go, try to take it slow while kayaking and pregnant.
As thrilling as it is to kayak, balancing it with pregnancy is not easy. It can be harder if you have always been physically active.
But you don’t have to be couped up in the house the entire time.
You should be able to continue kayaking even as an expectant woman, within reason. The bottom line is to listen to your body and your doctor’s advice before you undergo any kayaking.
If you are one of those expecting a baby, I send you best wishes and positive energy!