Can You Kayak While Pregnant? Understanding the Risks and Benefits

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Physical activity is important when you’re pregnant because it can help with issues like backache. It can also reduce stress and possibly prevent gestational diabetes. However, with pregnancy comes limitations in terms of what you can do physically. 

Kayaking is known as a gentle exercise that isn’t too hard on your body, despite being an effective workout. 

But can you kayak while pregnant? The short answer is, yes, you can kayak while pregnant. Kayaking is a low-impact activity and you can make it as easy or as intense as you want. 

However, every pregnancy is unique. You have to be cautious and make sure you’re doing what’s right and safe for you. 

So let’s get into the details. 

Key Takeaways

  • Kayaking is a low-impact activity that can be safe and beneficial for pregnant women, depending on their individual situation and preferences.
  • Paddling can improve mood, fitness, and cardiovascular health, as well as help with weight management during pregnancy.
  • Weather and water conditions, pregnancy stage and complications, and personal comfort are some key factors to consider before kayaking while pregnant.
  • Kayaking while pregnant requires proper precautions such as consulting a doctor, wearing a life jacket, avoiding extreme conditions, and going with a partner.
  • Kayaking while pregnant should be done with moderation and common sense, listening to your body, and avoiding risks.

Is It Safe to Kayak While Pregnant? 

Generally, it’s safe to kayak while pregnant. Kayaking effectively engages different muscle groups without putting too much pressure on your body.

But it’s important to note that everyone’s situation is different and there are other factors to consider. 

Let me explain. 

Some Kayaking Disciplines May Be Unsafe for Pregnant Women

There are different kayaking disciplines – whitewater kayaking, kayak fishing, kayak racing, kayak surfing, recreational kayaking, kayak touring, and more. Some of these disciplines are more intense and have a higher risk of injury. 

Take whitewater kayaking for example. This is a type of kayaking done in whitewater rivers which can be quite dangerous. There are fallen trees, undercut rocks, and other obstacles. You also have to deal with high and powerful water. 

It’s easy to capsize and overexert yourself. There’s the risk of hypothermia if you fall into cold water too. Besides, you can misjudge a situation and that might not end well. 

Other disciplines like racing and surfing are intense as well. Some experts will tell you that you should still be able to hold a conversation while exercising during pregnancy. 

If you’re taking up kayaking for the first time as a pregnant woman I’d recommend the easier disciplines. Recreational kayaking is easy and gentle but still a good workout. Kayak fishing is also a nice option. It adds a little challenge and excitement but it isn’t a strenuous physical activity. 

Paddling Rough Weather and Water Conditions Isn’t a Good Idea

Extreme weather and water conditions have higher risks and it would be best to avoid them when pregnant. 

Fast-moving rivers, rough waters, and high winds, for instance, may be too much for many women during pregnancy. These conditions require a lot of energy and agility. Besides, they can be unpredictable and you might quickly find yourself in a tricky situation!

Kayaking in extreme conditions may leave you drained and fatigued instead of energized. It’s also easy to overuse your muscles and joints and hurt yourself.  

Even though you were kayaking before getting pregnant, the changes in your body may make it hard to do the things you used to do before. 

For this reason, it would be better to stick to calm waters. There are fewer potential risks and you’ll be able to relax while getting a good workout. 

Avoid If Your Pregnancy Is Higher Risk

Every pregnancy is different. One woman may have no issues kayaking rivers up to a certain point in her pregnancy while another one may not be able to handle even a leisurely paddle. 

Kayaking may be a gentle exercise but it’s still an exercise that requires some amount of effort. This applies even when paddling leisurely on calm water bodies.

You should be careful not to do anything that may eventually harm both you and your baby. This is especially true if you have complications or a high-risk pregnancy.  

If you were kayaking before pregnancy, then you have a good idea of the physical requirements of paddling. So you know what you can and can’t handle depending on the nature of your pregnancy.

For newbie kayakers, it would be wise to talk to your doctor and work with a kayak instructor. This way, you won’t run the risk of overdoing it which could cause health complications. 

How Far Along Are You?

Whether or not kayaking is safe also depends on how far along you are. 

During the first trimester, many pregnant women can enjoy kayaking without a problem. You’ll also have more options in those first few months and you may be able to handle different kayaking disciplines. 

If you’re an experienced kayaker you may still be able to continue kayaking as before. 

However, as the pregnancy progresses and your body changes you might have to slow down. You may have to go on shorter trips, avoid challenging conditions, and only stick to easier kayaking activities. Or stop kayaking completely. 

What Are the Benefits of Kayaking While Pregnant? 

While you need to observe common sense safety measures while kayaking if you are pregnant, you can still gain a ton of benefits from this activity. Here, we take a look at some of them. 

Kayaking Improves Your Mood

One important benefit of kayaking is that it can boost your mood and make you happier. 

Sometimes, pregnancy and everything that comes with it can be overwhelming. Besides, everyone–pregnant or not–could use a little mood boost. 

Kayaking as a physical activity reduces the level of stress hormones in your body. It also increases the level of feel-good hormones like endorphins. You’ll notice that you feel happier every time you go out for a paddle. 

Escaping to be in nature, even for an hour or so, allows you to take a break from everything and just be. Work, family, and planning for the new baby can be exhausting. Who wouldn’t want a nice break? 

Taking some time to kayak lets you relax and reorganize your thoughts. You’ll have a better sense of control and it might help you sleep better too. 

Kayaking Keeps You Fit

Kayaking may look easy but it’s a fantastic workout. 

It effectively engages different muscle groups in your upper body to improve muscle strength and endurance. While it may not feel like it, your lower body does some work too. The results? Tones muscles and higher energy levels. 

Kayaking improves your cardiovascular health too and could lower your risk of gestational diabetes. 

The good thing about it is that it’s a non-weight-bearing sport and safe for most pregnant women. You can also customize it to make it easier as your pregnancy progresses. This way, you’ll stay active and fit without risking complications. 

Kayaking Helps Burn Calories

Weight gain is normal during pregnancy and there’s usually a recommended amount of weight you should gain. 

Kayaking while pregnant promotes healthy weight gain to help keep you and your baby healthy. It also reduces the risk of complications during delivery as a result of too much weight gain. 

Because restrictive dieting while pregnant isn’t recommended, the best way to manage your weight is by eating healthy and staying physically active to burn calories. 

A 150-pound person can burn about 350 calories with just one hour of kayaking. If you’re heavier you’ll burn more. This is amazing because kayaking isn’t hard and it’s super fun! 

How to Kayak Safely While Pregnant

If you’re an expectant mother looking to try kayaking, here is how you can do it safely. 

Talk to Your Doctor

This is the most important thing. You should get your doctor’s approval before you get on a kayak. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a newbie or an avid kayaker. 

It helps to walk with a healthcare provider who can advise you on what to do and what to avoid. They will guide you based on your physical condition, medical history, and other factors. 

Remember to consult them throughout your pregnancy in case you need to cut back or stop kayaking completely. 

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Being outside in the sun allows you to get some Vitamin D. But too much sun exposure can be dangerous; so sun protection is a must.

Make sure you apply sunscreen properly and reapply if you jump into the water for a quick swim. Wear a hat as well and sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare. 

You may also want to wear clothes that provide maximum covering–without sacrificing your comfort, of course. 

Make Your Kayak Comfortable

A comfortable kayak translates to a pleasant trip and you can focus more on having fun. Invest in a better kayak seat with enough padding and good back support

While still on the topic of comfort, you should consider the kayak style that’s best for you. I’d say that a sit-on-top kayak would be better for pregnant women compared to a sit-in kayak.

Sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck so you just sit on top. Sit-in kayaks have an enclosed cockpit that can be tricky to get in and out of, especially if you’re further along in your pregnancy. 

Bring Enough Snacks and Drinking Water

Eat well before your kayaking trip and carry enough water and snacks for your adventure. 

Most kayaks have easily accessible storage areas so you can keep everything within reach. Remember to keep hydrating because you wouldn’t want to risk dehydration, especially when paddling in the sun. 

Don’t Overdo It

This is not the best time to try and push your body past its limits. You have to be careful when kayaking while pregnant and don’t do anything that your doctor wouldn’t approve of. 

Always listen to your body so you don’t end up getting hurt. If you notice that you’re uncomfortable or in pain, you should stop. 

Additionally, understand that there are things you won’t be able to do like lifting up your heavy kayak all on your own. 

Calm, Sheltered Water Is the Best

I always say that it’s better to err on the side of caution. 

You can still get a good workout paddling at a relaxed pace on a calm lake. The conditions there are predictable and the risks are fewer. This is especially important for newbie pregnant women. 

Wear Your Life Jacket

You must never go kayaking without your life jacket or kayak PFD. It provides you with buoyancy if you fall into the water and it could save your life. 

Drowning is always a risk when it comes to watersports, even for strong swimmers.  A personal floatation device will keep your head above water. Make sure it fits well too. 

Always Check the Weather First

Never go out without checking the weather to see what you should expect. 

Check the wind speed and direction so you can plan your trip accordingly. See what the water and weather temperature will be like so you can dress appropriately.

Don’t forget to check the tide and current as well. If the conditions aren’t looking friendly, it’s best not to go.  

Go with a Friend

Kayaking is always fun and safer with a friend. 

They will help you carry your kayak and get it into and out of the water. It’s also comforting to know that you have someone to look out for you. 

You can benefit from tandem kayaking with a partner as well. A tandem kayak accommodates two paddlers. If you get too tired your partner can do most of the paddling as you rest. 

nixy tahoe inflatable tandem kayak

Frequently Asked Questions About Kayaking While Pregnant

Can Pregnant Women Go Kayaking?

Yes, pregnant women can go kayaking. Just make sure you follow all the safety precautions and don’t bite more than you can chew.

Is It Safe to Go Kayaking in the Third Trimester?

The answer to this may vary from one pregnant woman to another. Talk to your doctor and see whether they approve.

Wrapping Up 

Can you kayak while pregnant? Yes, you can. 

However, it’s important to talk to your doctor first to avoid complications. The nature of your pregnancy–whether it’s high-risk or you have issues–is a key factor to consider. 

As a pregnant woman, it would be better to avoid extreme kayaking disciplines like whitewater kayaking. They have higher risks and you can easily get hurt, more so if you’re a newbie. 

It’s best to start slow in calm and sheltered waters where the conditions are predictable. I also recommend going with a friend. 

Remember to wear your life jacket, protect yourself from the sun, and carry enough drinking water. 

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