Can You Kayak While Pregnant? The Benefits & Safety Tips

by Jason | Last Updated:   April 29th, 2022
Can You Kayak While Pregnant? The Benefits & Safety Tips


If you had to choose one of the worst things about being pregnant, it has to be the feeling of not being able to do the activities you once loved. As you’re preparing to welcome your baby to your family, you’re also left wondering if it’s time to pack up outdoor activities.

But what if you’re not ready to give up the sport you love. In that case, you might be asking yourself, “Can you kayak while pregnant?”

I do not doubt that an adventurous mother would gladly give up paddling if they felt it would harm their unborn child. 

The question is, is it really necessary to give up paddling. In this article, I plan to lay everything out for you to decide on your future. 

And by the end of this article, you might not think kayaking while pregnant is such a bad idea!

So, let’s take a look: 

Is Kayaking OK For Pregnant Women?

I will go into some further detail about going kayaking while you’re pregnant. But the general consensus is it’s okay to stay physically active while you’re pregnant as long as you were already an active person before pregnancy.

But the question, “can you kayak while pregnant?” Isn’t a clear-cut yes or no. 

Can You Paddle A Boat While Pregnant?

It’s said that there aren’t any inherent dangers when it comes to participating in water sports while you’re pregnant, as long as we’re talking about low-risk pregnancy.

That being said, every pregnancy is different, and whether you need to take a break from kayaking will vary from pregnant woman to pregnant woman. 

And this is why it ultimately comes down to the decision of two people:

  1. You
  2. And your doctor/health care provider

And there’s a good chance that if your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you should be able to jump straight onto your kayak.

But remember:

Not all pregnancies are the same, and some don’t go very smoothly.

For this reason, if you’re having a high-risk pregnancy and there could be expected complications, then exercise may not be a good idea. You may end up doing more harm than good.

And here are some health complications that should suggest you need to slow things down before you give birth:

  • A weak cervix
  • Multiples pregnancy
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • A history of miscarriages or premature births

Either way, it’s best to consult a medical professional to get a second opinion before you get out there. And the most important thing is you listen to their recommendations and respect your body’s limitations if you want to avoid pregnancy complications.

So, I hope that’s given you an idea about paddling calm waters, but what about whitewater kayaking?

So, Can You Paddle Whitewater While Pregnant?  

Okay, the next thing I want to talk about is paddling whitewater. The main difference here is paddling on whitewater has stronger/faster water.

Regular kayaking is done on big open bodies of water, from tranquil lakes to streams. But whitewater kayaking requires fast-moving water.

And while whitewater kayaking provides more of a thrill, it also comes with more danger, which is not something you want when you’re pregnant.

The unpredictability of whitewater currents could see you smashing the bottom of the rocks. Not only that, but you’ll have to really strain yourself trying to stay upright in the boat, which could cause harm for your body.

You’ll also notice that the water is colder than lakes, which runs the risk of hypothermia. Again, plummeting body temperatures are not something you want when you’re pregnant.

Overall, whitewater kayaking comes with too many risks to make it a good idea to try it out while you’re pregnant. And for that reason, I wouldn’t suggest you get out there on whitewater while you’re pregnant.

The Benefits Of Kayaking When Pregnant

So, we know it’s okay to go kayaking while you’re pregnant if you have the say-so from a medical professional. We also know you should stay away from whitewater due to the challenging and dangerous nature of the water.

But are there any benefits to kayaking while pregnant?

Well, I set out on some research to discover if physical activity while pregnant could be beneficial for your body.

And I was surprised to find out just how many benefits there are, and in this section, I want to point some of them out to you:

It Could Prevent Excess Weight Gain

It’s a well-known fact that gaining weight is an integral part of pregnancy because it protects your health and your baby. But, you need to make sure you gain the right amount of weight.

The thing is:

Too much or too little weight gain can be extremely harmful. If you don’t gain enough weight, you risk premature birth and low birth weight.   

And if you gain too much weight, you still run the risk of premature birth, but you also have to contend with fetal macrosomia and C-section births.

And if you listen to the CDC, they provide clear guidelines on how much weight women should gain for a healthy pregnancy:

  • If you have a BMI less than 18.5, you should gain 28-40 lbs
  • If you have a BMI is 18.5-24.9, you should gain 25-35 lbs
  • If you have a BMI is 25.0-29.9, you should gain 15-25 lbs
  • If you have a BMI is more than or equal to 30.0, you should gain 11-20 lbs

These numbers can vary slightly if you’re pregnant with twins, but it’s an excellent baseline to look at.

And this is where staying physically active can be very beneficial. If you notice yourself gaining a bit too much weight, then kayaking can help you drop a bit.

In just one hour of paddling, you can burn 350 calories, and it’s a lot more than going to the gym, so it’s a win-win.

It Will Improve Your Energy Level And Mood 

Many people talk about postpartum depression after they give birth. But many people don’t speak about what women go through while they’re pregnant.

During their pregnancy, they undergo many physiological and emotional changes, which can make them feel depressed,

And this is why kayaking can be so good. Kayaking allows you to get some time to relax, get outside with nature, breathe fresh air, and do something you love.

All of this will help to reduce your stress level and, in turn, provide better mental health and provide a healthier pregnancy.

And when it comes to energy, you’ll also notice an increase. Physical activity will make your heart pump faster, which keeps the lung and blood muscles open, leading to better circulation. This will also increase your metabolism and make you feel more energetic.

It will also increase endorphins, reduce swelling, and lead to a better night’s sleep, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

It Can Help To Increase Your Stamina 

Here’s the thing:

Being in labor will require a lot of stamina, and let’s face it, it’s probably going to be the most challenging and most stamina-intensive thing in your life.

To make things worse:

You can’t give up or take breaks for too long when delivering your baby. So anything you can do to increase your stamina before you give birth can be incredibly beneficial.

And this is another way kayaking can help you out. Paddling will get your heart pumping, and after a while, you’ll notice that you can start going faster and for longer.

It Lowers Your Risk Of Gestational Diabetes

During your pregnancy, you can develop gestational diabetes. And it’s a type of diabetes that affects how your body processes glucose.

And this can lead to high blood pressure that puts your pregnancy and your baby’s health at risk.

Luckily, with this type of diabetes, your blood sugar levels will usually fall back to normal levels after you give birth.

The problem is:

Once you’ve had a type of diabetes, it puts you at risk of getting Type II diabetes, which will require regular checkups for shifts in your blood glucose level. 

But there is some good news!

If you eat healthy foods during your pregnancy and work out while pregnant, you can reduce your chances of getting gestational diabetes.

So, just a few hours kayaking per week can significantly reduce your chances of getting any life-changing medical issues.

It Can Reduce Pregnancy Discomfort 

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the discomforts women go through while they’re pregnant. Backache is a widespread problem women contend with, and it’s no surprise due to the extra weight in your belly.

And this is why kayaking is great. Every stroke turns your torso and engages lower back muscles. It’s this engagement that helps to strengthen your back and help to reduce the pain in your back.

Not only that, but it will help reduce the feeling of bloating and swelling, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

How To Stay Safe While Paddling Pregnant

Hopefully, you’ve got some idea whether you’re going to be able to go kayaking while you’re pregnant. That being said, you should still be thinking about how to stay safe while you’re paddling pregnant.

So, in this section, I wanted to talk you through some of the safety tips you should follow to reduce your chances of injury:

  • Always wear your PFD: Even if you’re not pregnant, you should always wear a PFD (check out a women’s personal flotation device here). It’s one of the most essential pieces of safety equipment a kayaker can use.
  • Never Go Kayaking Alone: Going kayaking alone is a massive no-no. If anything happens to you while you’re paddling, no one will be there to help. Make sure you go with at least one person.
  • Bring Water And Snacks: Make sure you bring extra water and some snacks when you go kayaking. Kayaking while pregnant isn’t easy, so you’ll need a little boost.
  • Always Wear Sun Protection: Make sure you use a high SPF sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. Here’s a list of things you should wear when kayaking in the summer.
  • Make Sure You Check The Weather: Keep an eye on the weather before you go. This way, you have less chance of getting caught outside in bad weather conditions.
  • Take It Easy: One of the most important tips I can give you is to make sure you take it easy while you’re out there. Listen to your body, and don’t push it too far; you don’t want to damage yourself. Maybe you can try a tandem kayak to take some of the pressure off you.

Just these simple tips can help you stay safe when you’re kayaking. So make sure you try your best to stick to them.

What Activities Should You Avoid When Pregnant?

We’ve found out you can go kayaking safely if you take it easy on a slow-moving river. But are there any activities you should avoid while you’re pregnant?

Well, in this section, I’m going to list a few things you should be avoided when you’re looking for activities to take part in when you’re pregnant:

  • Avoid anything that’s too jerky, has bouncing movements, or has a chance of making your fall. This could be things like skiing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, or horseback riding.
  • Avoid anything that could result in you getting hit in your belly. Boxing, soccer (football), basketball, or baseball.
  • Avoid exercises that make you lie flat on your back during the first trimester. These would be things like sit-ups.
  • Avoid sports where you might hit the water with great force. These would be things like skiing, scuba diving, or surfing.
  • Stay away from sports that involve high altitude. Anything over 6,000 feet has lower oxygen levels, which can be bad for your baby. 
  • Avoid any activities that can raise your body temperature too high. This could be things like hot yoga. 

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

I hope this has helped you understand the risks and benefits of kayaking while you’re pregnant. Of course, you should always consult with your medical professional before you get out there; it’s not worth risking you or your baby’s health.

You should also stay away from whitewater; it’s a strenuous physical activity that is far too dangerous for a pregnant lady to take part in. If you fall in, you could hit your bump on a rock, which could cause all sorts of problems.

And make sure you check out my tips for staying safe while kayaking. It will prevent you from running into issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Bumpy Boat Ride Affect Pregnancy?

Although it’s okay to go kayak fishing or tandem kayaking on calm water, you need to stay away from rough water and bumpy boats while pregnant. A bumpy ride could cause damage to your baby, and it could also warm you, so stay away from it.

Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.