Pregnancy can be a time of excitement, anticipation, and to be honest some anxiety. One question that may come to mind for women paddlers is: Can I go kayaking while pregnant?
It’s important to understand the safety considerations for each trimester in your pregnancy before deciding if you should go kayaking. Because even though there are physical benefits associated with kayaking during pregnancy, it’s still important to understand how your body could react.
This article will help you make an informed decision about whether or not you can safely kayak during pregnancy.
Can I go kayaking while pregnant? Yes, you can go kayaking while pregnant. Generally, in early pregnancy, it’s okay to go kayaking in calm, still waters. Avoid river, whitewater, and ocean kayaking, especially during heavy wind or waves. It’s always best to consult your doctor before engaging in any outdoor activity while pregnant.
Not a Doctor Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. More importantly, I am not your doctor. This article is not medical advice. If you desire medical advice, consult a competent, licensed doctor in your area.
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Physical Activity Benefits of Kayaking while Pregnant
Physical activity during pregnancy can be beneficial for both mother and baby. Regular exercise helps improve circulation which in turn increases the oxygen supply to the baby. This improved blood flow also helps reduce fatigue and stress levels in expectant mothers.
Kayaking is good exercise and helps maintain healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy. It also helps strengthen core muscles that will be needed during labor and delivery.
Moderate kayaking while pregnant can be a great part of this exercise.
Make sure you listen to your body and take frequent breaks if you feel tired or uncomfortable.
Tips for Kayaking While Pregnant
It’s important to pay extra attention to safety when kayaking while pregnant, especially during the first trimester.
Consult Your Doctor Before Kayaking
If you do go kayaking while pregnant, safety should always be your top priority. As we mentioned before you should consult your doctor when engaging in any physical activity during pregnancy.
Avoid Rough Kayaking Conditions
If you do choose to go kayaking while you’re pregnant, it’s important to take extra precautions by always wearing a life jacket and avoiding rough water. Pregnant women should also pay attention to their body’s signals and take frequent breaks if needed.
Don’t Kayak Alone
If, after you consult your doctor, you decide to kayak while pregnant, a kayaking buddy is a must. An experienced paddling partner can help navigate any potential risks or hazards associated with the activity.
Along with a paddling buddy, make sure someone that’s not with you know where you’re going. It’s not to much to have a written itinerary so you all know where you’ll be and when. And create an emergency plan that you all understand just in case something goes wrong.
In addition, pregnant women should avoid spending too much time out in direct sunlight as this could increase their risk of overheating or dehydration due to the increased metabolic demands of pregnancy.
Drink Lots of Water
Erring on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to drink lots of water during any outdoor activity, especially in the heat. Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after kayaking.
Wear Proper Protective Clothing
It’s important for all paddlers to know what to wear when kayaking. Dress for the water temperature not the outside weather. Protect yourself from cold and heat by layering and avoiding cotton clothing.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
Pregnant women who are planning on going kayaking should be extra careful to wear protective clothing and sunscreen with SPF 30+ protection against UVA/UVB rays, even when it’s cloudy outside.
Because even on cloudy days the sun’s rays can still cause sunburns and other skin damage over time.
Kayaking in the First Trimester
Chances are that your doctor will probably give you the go-ahead to kayak while pregnant in your first trimester. After all, kayaking in the first trimester can be a great way to stay active and healthy during pregnancy.
But you need to listen to your doctor and follow their instructions to the letter.
In general, if you were active, healthy and in good physical shape before you got pregnant it’s probably safe to do light physical activity during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
But remember to take it easy, and don’t paddle as hard or as long as you did before your pregnancy.
Take Extra Safety Precautions
As I mentioned above, there are several extra safety precautions pregnant women should take if they plan to go kayaking:
Wear a properly fitting life vest. During your first trimester, you can probably wear your regularly-fitted life vest as your belly won’t be that much bigger than normal.
Paddle easy and calm water. It’s important to choose an appropriate route for your level of experience; avoid areas with strong currents or rapids that could put you at risk of capsizing or getting stuck in shallow waters.
Bring a buddy. Additionally, make sure you have someone else with you who can help if needed and carry emergency supplies such as flares, extra food, water and clothing.
Have a paddling plan. Figure out in advance where you’ll paddle, stick to that plan when paddling, and tell someone who’s not on your trip about the plan.
Choose a Kayak and Paddle for Your Size
Additionally, select the correct kayak paddle size; too short of a paddle may cause strain on your back muscles while too long of one may not allow proper control over the boat’s direction when turning or maneuvering through tight spaces.
Kayaking in 2nd Trimester
During my wife’s second pregnancy, she developed premature labor and contractions and by doctor’s orders she was basically bedridden during most of her pregnancy. She definitely wasn’t going kayaking!
The point is, not all pregnancies go smoothly and it’s important to listen to the medical advice of your doctor and listen to what your body’s telling you.
So if your doctor approves it, and as your pregnancy progresses into its second trimester, it may be more comfortable for you to go kayaking with some adjustments made for comfort and safety purposes.
Switch to a Sit-On-Top Kayak
Kayaking in the second trimester of pregnancy can be a great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. It’s important, however, to take safety precautions and adjust your equipment.
If you normally kayak in a sit-inside kayak that has a cockpit, you may want to switch to a sit-on-top kayak as well as a wider kayak. Getting in and out of a sit-on-top kayak safely is easier than a sit-inside one. And a wider kayak provides more protection against tipping over in rough water.
If you do happen to tip over, you’ll slide right off of a sit-on-top kayak.
In addition, as your baby bump grows, the restricted opening of the cockpit on a sit-inside kayak will probably start pressing against your belly. This will make it at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerously difficult to get out of should you capsize.
Use Extra Padding
Using extra padding or cushions in your kayak will provide additional support and reduce discomfort from sitting in one position for long periods of time as you paddle.
Avoid Rough Water and Weather
Additionally, it is best to avoid whitewater rapids or rough waters during your second trimester as these could potentially cause harm if something were to go wrong. You’re just better off paddling calm waters during your pregnancy.
Paddle Closer to Shore
Another thing worth considering when kayaking during the second trimester of pregnancy is how far away from shore you plan on going. Try not to venture too far away from land just in case there’s an emergency and you need medical attention.
Don’t Go Kayaking Alone
Finally, always let someone know where you will be going before setting off – this way they will know exactly where they need look for help if necessary.
Kayaking in Third Trimester
As always, ask your doctor … again … if it’s okay for you to go kayaking during your third trimester.
If you and your doctor both decide that it’s okay, you’ll probably get tired and hungry more easily while you paddle. So, plan accordingly by taking frequent breaks and bringing plenty of snacks and drinks along with an emergency contact number just in case something unexpected happens during your outing on the water.
It’s important to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment for kayaking while pregnant.
This includes a properly fitting life jacket, a kayak whistle for signaling and emergencies, and the appropriate clothing for the weather and water.
Again, wearing a life jacket is essential. Realistically, you may need to wear a larger life vest to accommodate your growing belly.
Pay Closer Attention to the Weather
Kayaking is supposed to be fun after all, so plan light leisurely paddles during warm and calm days in your third trimester. Enjoy yourself and don’t overdo it.
When planning a kayaking trip during your third trimester of pregnancy, it’s essential to pay attention to weather conditions such as wind speed and direction as well as water temperature.
Windy conditions can make paddling difficult so it’s best avoided when pregnant; similarly cold-water temperatures can put additional strain on your body.
Proper Paddling Posture
When pregnant, it’s even more important to use proper paddling technique to minimize fatigue and potential injury risks associated with improper form or overexertion. Make sure you keep your back straight throughout each stroke instead of hunching forward.
Due to increased weight gain during pregnancy, your balance will be affected. So try not to lean too far out from the side of the boat when turning or reaching for items. That could cause instability and lead to capsizing.
With the right gear and equipment, as well as proper preparation, you can safely enjoy kayaking while pregnant. As with any exercise during pregnancy, consult your doctor before going kayaking.
Key safety considerations for kayaking during pregnancy include: wearing a life jacket, using a wider, more stable kayak, using extra padding or cushions, and taking frequent breaks.
So if you’re wondering “can i go kayaking while pregnant?”, the answer is yes – just make sure to follow all necessary safety guidelines.