Can You Kayak While Pregnant?

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Ever wondered if you can kayak while pregnant? In this article, we’ll find out if you can!

This question echoed throughout my brain when I visited Sarasota, Florida, last year. When a friend in my group signed up for a kayak trip we were taking, she was pregnant with her second child. I wrote this article for pregnant women who enjoy paddling but might be wondering if you can kayak while pregnant and if it’s good for them while they’re expecting.

Benefits of Kayaking

A pregnant woman getting ready to kayak on a lake

Getting pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up your outdoor adventures. Kayaking offers a unique way of staying healthy. Not only are you able to relax along the water, but you can also get a good workout. It relaxes you both physically and mentally. Kayaking while pregnant offers the same benefits as before you conceived.

Kayaking doesn’t hurt your joints as high-impact activities do. Running and weightlifting are some examples of activities that can hurt your joints, cause other medical issues, and even impact the development of your growing baby. 

Mentally, a leisurely paddle can relax you and help you focus. There’s nothing like a pleasant trip on calm waters to work through the feelings pregnancy hormones can bring up. Pregnancy can be a confusing yet wonderful time so use your kayaking to help clear your head and sort through your emotions. You can even kayak as a group to know you’re not alone. 

What Do Experts Think?

A woman kayaking in a lake canyon

Most experts agree that keeping up an activity you’ve done before becoming pregnant helps you stay in a routine. Moreover, staying physically active may help a pregnant woman avoid pregnancy complications such as premature birth and gestational diabetes.

Studies have shown that exercise doesn’t increase the risk of premature birth, and it can lower the risk for gestational diabetes. In fact, it can help you have a healthier pregnancy. Moderate exercise may also help with general health complications such as backaches, bloating and swelling, constipation, energy levels, and difficulties sleeping. 

Strenuous physical activity, such as scuba diving and contact sports, should be avoided, and you should not be exercising to counteract excess weight gain while you’re pregnant. But, any exercise you do will help you lose the baby weight later. So if you started before becoming pregnant, continue kayaking. Just save the whitewater kayaking for after you have your baby.

Likewise, don’t wait to start paddling until you’re pregnant. Instead, do it beforehand while you’re waiting to get pregnant. Kayaking can help keep you grounded and less anxious as you try to conceive, increasing your chances of having a successful labor and delivery. If you still have reservations about your health and safety, talk to your doctor. 

How To Kayak While Pregnant

A man and woman kayaking in a tandem kayak

Before you begin kayaking, you’ll need to have some essential clothing and equipment first. A well-fitted lifejacket, water, and water shoes are some of the things that need to be first on your list. 

Be careful when you launch so you don’t tip your boat or crack your hull. One good thing to do is straddle the cockpit before lowering yourself butt first into the seat. You can also adjust your seat if needed, making sure your knees can slightly bend. Keep steady and hold your paddle evenly. If the paddle’s scooped sides face you, you know you’re holding it correctly. You can use a forward stroke, reverse stroke, or sweep stroke. Try those strokes on land before you use them in the water. 

What to Consider if Kayaking Pregnant 

A woman kayaking in the sun

One thing to consider is size. If you’re in your second trimester or further, you may not have a lifejacket or personal floatation device that properly fits around you. 

Likewise, you may not fit inside your kayak. Before you decide on which kayak you want to use, keep in mind that every boat has a weight limit. You’ll need to take that into account when you’re packing other supplies, such as coolers or picnic baskets. Depending on how large your bump is, you may need to adjust your seat or use a supporting backrest. Use a kayak with an adjustable seat– or add a new kayak seat— that will allow you to slide back farther so you can maintain a knees-bent position. 

How To Be Safe on the Water

Kayaking on the lake wearing orange life jackets

It’s always imperative to be safe on the water, but it’s even more critical for a pregnant woman. Accidents are prone to happen, and the farther along you are, the harder it will be for you to get out of a sticky situation. So make sure you can swim, and stay close to the shoreline. Bring a radio or, better yet, a paddle buddy, so you have help in case something goes wrong. 

A great way to paddle with a companion is to use a tandem kayak. These kayaks are usually wider than regular kayaks, so they offer more stability. But the best part is paddling tandem is if you get tired, you can rest while your paddle buddy does the work. Another thing to consider when kayaking while pregnant is where you will take bathroom breaks, especially if you’re quite far along. And, it goes without saying, always bring plenty of sun protection. 

Exercising While Pregnant 

A pregnant woman and exercise

Even if you’re an avid kayaker and you can fit in your kayak, you may still experience some reservations about physical activity during your pregnancy. But, the good news is that, for most women, working out and staying active during pregnancy helps both the mom and the baby!

Working out won’t increase the chances of a miscarriage. In fact, it will only strengthen you and prepare you for labor. It will also help keep the baby healthy and ready for delivery. The Johns Hopkins Institute for Medicine says that women who work out for around 30 minutes a day will remain healthy throughout their pregnancy. Kayaking can keep a woman healthy while also keeping her safe. Lifting weights, running, and other types of rough sports can injure the woman and potentially hurt the baby. Kayaking allows the mom to maintain a healthy, fun lifestyle while staying safe.

Benefits To Kayaking While Pregnant

A pregnant woman kayaking safely

Kayaking will give an expectant mom a way to stay active in a way that running cannot. 

It’s also relaxing. Being out in nature in the fresh air can help clear an expectant mom’s mind and promotes positive mental health. So you can enjoy kayaking on calm water, or even a slow moving river, if you take the proper precautions. Kayaking while pregnant can also help after the delivery. Postpartum depression affects many women in different ways. Relaxing outdoors is an excellent way to help combat such feelings and keep new moms happy. 

Are You a High Risk Pregnancy? 

A pregnant woman on bedrest

Not all pregnancies are smooth sailing. If you’re considered high-risk, such as being at risk for pre-eclampsia or miscarriage, then any activity may be risky for you and your baby’s health. Even women with low risk pregnancies should be cautious. If you ever feel pain or discomfort, stop immediately and talk to your healthcare provider. While exercise is essential for a new mom, the overall health of the pregnancy obviously takes precedence. Always keep your body’s limitations in mind. And always talk to your doctor if you still have concerns. 

Final Thoughts

So, can you kayak while pregnant? Absolutely. You just need to make sure that you stay safe. You need to talk to your doctor before you begin. Don’t push too hard, and always stop if you feel discomfort. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, kayaking may not be for you. 

Like any other kayaking trip, always bring water, a lifejacket, and a way to communicate—whether it’s a radio or a paddling buddy. Because accidents can and do happen, you should always paddle with someone else. If you’re healthy and active, don’t be afraid to launch yourself and try it out. Kayaking can relax both your body and your brain. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature before your baby arrives.

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