Can You White Water Raft While Pregnant?

Can You White Water Raft While Pregnant

More and more, all kinds of people are getting into white water rafting. And increasingly, pregnant women ask if they can white water raft while pregnant.

It’s great that women aren’t afraid to get up and be active while they’re pregnant. We love that so many women want to stay fit and active when they’re expecting. The most important thing though, is choosing exercise and activities that are safe for both you and your developing baby.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

So can you white water raft while pregnant? You probably shouldn’t go white water rafting while pregnant. The likelihood that you’ll be jostled around, bumped, hit by fellow rafters, or even thrown from the raft makes white water rafting too dangerous during pregnancy. Better to avoid white water rafting until after you have your baby. 

Among the not-so-great risks pregnant women can face due to white water rafting: increased nausea, damage to their joints, and worst of all, miscarriage. So as much as we’d love to say that it’s totally fine for you to hit the rapids, it’s just not worth the risk.

If you’re still not convinced, let’s take a deeper look at the changes pregnant women go through in their first trimester alone – and why white water rafting while pregnant is best to be avoided altogether.

White Water Rafting at 4 Weeks Pregnant

So, is there ever a safe time to go white water rafting while pregnant? Some people claim that in the early weeks of pregnancy, in easy rapids, that white water rafting is perfectly safe. The truth is a little more complicated than that. 

I think there’s a reason people like to make this claim. If you’re just four weeks pregnant (or even less), it’s possible that you might not even know you’re expecting. 

So you might very well sign up for a white water expedition, inadvertently tell your guides that you’re not pregnant, then spend a rough-and-tumble day in rapids. 

That’s why you’ll find plenty of anecdotal stories from people who will tell you they went white water rafting without knowing they were expecting, but their pregnancies turned out to be just fine. While that’s obviously true in some cases, it won’t be true for everyone.

Even this early in pregnancy, your body is growing and changing. There’s so much happening on the inside. There is damage that could be done from a high-adrenaline, high-exertion activity like white water rafting.

Here’s two of pregnancy’s side effects you might experience at only four weeks along…and which could prevent you from a safe rafting trip.

  1. Nausea: Nausea, or morning sickness (which can last all day, every day), is probably the most well-known side effect of pregnancy. While it’s different for everyone, it usually starts in the first weeks of pregnancy and can seriously impact your daily activities. Which means rolling down white water will almost certainly make any pregnancy-induced nausea just that much worse. 
  2. Fatigue: Another big symptom of early pregnancy is extreme fatigue. It’s no wonder: the energy your body expends each day during pregnancy is equal to constantly running a marathon. At any rate, if you’re experiencing fatigue from pregnancy, you won’t have the reaction time and stamina you need to stay safe in a white water raft.

IF – and this is a big IF – you’re still thinking you’ll be okay to raft when you’re only four weeks pregnant, please speak with your doctor first. Above all else, adhere to your doctor’s recommendations.

White Water Rafting at 8 Weeks Pregnant

At eight weeks, or two months pregnant, you’ll probably know by now that you’re expecting. You’ll likely have started taking steps to modify your lifestyle to suit the little human you’re growing. This means you may be advised by your doctor to stop certain physical activities as well. At this point, white water rafting should be one of them.

In addition to nausea and fatigue, here’s some more reasons why pregnant white water rafting is a bad idea.

  • Loosened joints and ligaments: Even at this early stage, pregnancy hormones cause your joints and ligaments to loosen. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “jerky, bouncy or high-impact motions” should be avoided in order to prevent permanent damage to your joints. Since white water rafting can be, well, jerky, bouncy and high-impact, it should be avoided when you’re pregnant.
  • Your body needs more oxygen. This is why doctors, depending on the situation, advise some people to reduce strenuous exercise while pregnant. Exercise redirects oxygen towards the muscles, and away from our organs. Since your body needs more oxygen while pregnant, high-stress exercise like white water rafting can be risky.
  • Your baby is getting bigger. You’re probably not showing yet, but the tiny fetus inside is becoming more and more humanlike. This means there’s a greater risk of causing physical harm to it if you engage in high-impact activities with a risk level … like white water rafting.

White Water Rafting After 12 Weeks Pregnant

Once you’re no longer in the first trimester, white water rafting should be out of the question. There’s just no other way to put it.

Here’s a few reasons why: 

  • Contact sports can put your baby at risk. Yes, white water rafting counts as a contact sport. Paddling right beside others, down rapids that will jostle and rattle all of you against one another, or possibly even throw you from the raft? Definitely a high-impact activity, and it’s one that could cause a direct hit on your new baby bump. The ACOG strongly advises against any activity which could cause you to fall, or cause abdominal trauma.
  • Your center of gravity changes. Thanks to the extra weight directly on the front of your body, your center of gravity shifts and it becomes easier to lose your balance. This means you’ll have difficulty trying to stay balanced in a white water raft, and you’ll be much more likely to fall over or even fall out.
  • Nausea and fatigue might still be bothering you. Pregnancy is different for everyone, and while some women feel physically better after the first trimester, many still experience nausea and fatigue throughout the entire 39 weeks. You don’t want to be coming with either of those while you’re in a white water raft, especially not once your stomach actually starts to grow.

So yes, enjoy a leisurely swim in a lake, but leave the white water until after your little one is born.

Rafting While Pregnant Wrap Up

So, if you’re still wondering if it’s safe to go white water rafting when you’re pregnant: it probably should be avoided as an unnecessary risk. Even in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, you could cause irreparable harm to your growing baby or yourself. 

So as much as we’d love to say otherwise: if you’re pregnant, then white water rafting is a no-go. Everybody and every body is different, and so is every pregnancy.

While we are white water rafting enthusiasts, we certainly aren’t doctors. So we’d never advise you to go against their advice, and tell you white water rafting is safe if you’re pregnant.
So if you’re pregnant: relax, enjoy this time (as much as you can!) and know there will always be a set of white water rapids waiting for you after your baby is born.


I'm Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family's paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

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