Exercising while pregnant is often encouraged, but it’s important to know which types of exercise are safe. You of course want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s paramount to avoid risky activities that might harm you or the baby. Plus, it is likely not the best time to suddenly take up new strenuous activities.
But what about paddle boarding? It seems like a simple exercise that anyone can do. Besides, it’s easy to get started and it’s a great way to get out and spend some time in nature.
So, can you paddle board while pregnant?
The simple answer is yes, you can paddle board while pregnant. SUP is a gentle exercise and an amazing workout, ideal even for pregnant women.
Let’s take a closer look at this question, and explore all the answers.
Is Paddle Boarding While Pregnant Right for You?
What’s good for one person may not be good for the next. Generally, SUP is a great physical activity for pregnant ladies, but is it right for you specifically?
It’s only you and your doctor who can accurately answer this question. You should talk to them before you get on a paddle board, and before you undertake any type of physical activity, really.
This is important because whether or not you can SUP depends on a few factors–like your fitness level and the nature of your pregnancy. Discuss what you can handle with your doctor as well, so you know what kind of SUP you’ll be able to do.
Is It Dangerous to Fall Off the Paddle Board While Pregnant?
Falling off a paddle board and into the water while pregnant is not necessarily dangerous. It depends on how you fall.
Even expert paddle boarders fall off their paddle boards from time to time. So it’s something you have to expect and prepare for.
You want to avoid falling in an awkward manner that could potentially hurt you or the baby. You should also be careful not to hit the SUP board with your belly as you fall. (It’s a general stand up paddle boarding rule to avoid hitting the SUP altogether while falling).
Try to fall away from your paddle board and into the water. Watch how you land too. If you feel yourself losing balance, let go and land on your feet. This is a safe technique for falling off a SUP for everyone–including pregnant paddlers.
But even if you fall into the water on your back or maybe belly, chances are that you’ll be okay. Just don’t hit anything hard!
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of falling is to get a stable board. Find a wide paddle board, the wider the better, especially if you’re a beginner. You’ll find it less tippy and you won’t wobble too much.
You can also kneel or sit while paddling. Paddle boarding on your knees or while sitting reduces your center of gravity and you’ll be less likely to fall.
Paddle Boarding in the First, Second, and Third Trimesters
During the first trimester, you’re still able to do most physical activities, even the slightly vigorous ones. SUP won’t be an issue, especially if you were active before pregnancy.
If you just started exercising, paddle boarding is a nice way to get you moving again. It’s a customizable activity so you can make it as gentle or as intense as you’d like. It is, however, wise to start slow, paddling in calm water.
Pay attention to your body so you don’t overdo it. You should be able to comfortably hold a conversation while paddling. Don’t wait until you’re out of breath. Begin with short paddles, maybe five to 10 minutes.
Many women find the second trimester easier. Your morning sickness may be gone and you may start to feel like yourself again. You can continue with daily exercise and keep up your SUP routine–as long as you do it safely.
You’ll still be able to paddle in your third trimester but you may have to take things much slower. There are women who have found that paddling is more comfortable late in their pregnancy even than walking!
Note: If you start to feel nauseous, dehydrated, dizzy, too hot, or experience any pain, you should stop immediately and give your doctor a call.
Benefits of Paddle Boarding for Pregnant Women
Stand up paddle boarding is one of the best water sports out there. Not only is it fun, but it also has a lot of benefits, and these translate to pregnant women also.
It’s a Full Body Workout
You’re advised to stay active during pregnancy for many different reasons. It helps you gain a healthy amount of weight and deal with all the body changes you’ll be going through.
SUP as a pregnancy workout is fantastic because it engages pretty much every muscle in your body. You’ll use different group muscles from your neck to your feet. And the best part? It’s gentle.
Finding a good core workout while pregnant is hard. Most of the common ones can be strenuous and are likely not safe – as you should avoid exercises that cause even mild abdominal trauma and bending. Paddle boarding increases your core strength without the need to bend and thus without causing harm.
It may also reduce backache which is a sweet bonus during pregnancy.
SUP Is Easy and Low-Impact
Low-impact exercises are gentle and don’t put a lot of strain on your muscles and joints. Unlike high-impact exercises, like running, low-impact exercises also reduce your chances of getting hurt.
Recreational paddling is easy enough for anyone to do and you can continue to SUP even as your pregnancy progresses. Some women paddle even up to 39 weeks without issues.
Besides, it’s done on water so you can incorporate swimming to create variety. Most women swim late into their pregnancies. It’s one of the safest activities you can do while pregnant, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. So you’ll be combining two easy and safe exercises.
Tips for Paddle Boarding While Pregnant
SUP virtually strengthens every muscle in your body and it will keep you fit and active the entire time. However, safety is key–yours and that of the baby.
Here are nine different tips to help you safely enjoy SUP while pregnant.
Talk to Your Doctor First
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you’ve decided to start paddling, talk to your doctor before you hit the water! This applies to women who have been paddling before too–whether it’s your first pregnancy or your third pregnancy, and whether you’re an experienced paddler or not.
It’s good to have your doctor advise you on what kind of exercises you can do and what you should avoid. You should also consult them as the pregnancy progresses, in case you need to cut back or stop altogether.
Paddle with a Partner
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t go paddle boarding alone while pregnant. The first one is because you’ll have someone there if something goes wrong or you start feeling unwell.
Another good reason is that it’s nice to have a partner to help carry your paddle board. You don’t want to be lifting a 10-foot SUP to the roof of your car all on your own. Even if you have an inflatable board you might need help carrying it to and from the water.
Going paddling with friends is also fun. You can find other women paddlers in your area for group sessions. There may also be other pregnant ladies there which would be great.
Don’t Push Yourself
This goes without saying – but do not overexert yourself.
As your belly grows, you’ll realize that there are many things you won’t be able to do. If you were already a paddler you may have to give up your normal routine, more so if it included SUP surfing and racing, for calmer and more relaxed sessions.
With time, you may also have to modify your technique–so it helps to walk with a SUP pro or instructor.
Only do what you feel comfortable doing and, if you feel you need to cut back, don’t hesitate.
Wear Sunscreen and Stay Hydrated
Remember to apply your sunscreen before you go and keep reapplying if you’ll be swimming. Sunburns are not fun!
You should always bring a big bottle of water with you, whether you’re going on a short or long trip. You can’t afford to be dehydrated–certainly not when you’re pregnant. If it’s hot, get a deck bag cooler to keep your water cool. The coolers are great for snacks too.
Wear Appropriate Clothes for the Weather
The best thing about paddle boarding is that it’s a sport for every season. Just make sure you dress appropriately.
If it’s freezing cold wear a wetsuit, gloves, neoprene boots, and other layers to keep you warm. Cover any part that needs to be covered.
If it’s hot you can wear anything that’s comfortable for you as long as it can get wet.
Don’t Forget Your Life Jacket and Leash
Your life jacket or personal flotation device ensures that you stay afloat if you fall into the water. And with SUP, you have other options other than the regular bulky life vest. You can wear a PFD belt. These are comfortable and don’t interfere with your paddling.
A leash is another must-have. Wear it before you get into the water. It prevents your board from drifting away when you fall, leaving you stranded.
Always Check the Weather and Water Conditions First
Regardless of your skill level, and whether you’re pregnant or not, you want to know what to expect when you go out there. Check the water and weather forecast then prepare accordingly.
For instance, knowing the wind direction and speed helps you plan your route and paddling time. This way, you won’t have to paddle against a strong wind when you’re already tired, coming back to shore.
Stick to Calm, Shallow Water
This is not the time to try whitewater paddle boarding and SUP surfing. They’re fun activities but they come with a lot of risks.
Paddle in sheltered water where the conditions are predictable. You should be able to easily and quickly get back to land in case you need to.
It’s Best to Start Before You’re Pregnant
It’s not always advisable to start new physical activities while pregnant. So if you’re considering getting pregnant, now is the best time to start paddle boarding, so you have some knowledge and skill going into it.
By the time you’re pregnant, you will be less likely to fall off the board. You’ll also have mastered the proper paddling technique and you can modify your technique as your body changes.
Yes, you can paddle board while pregnant.
Stand up paddle boarding is a nice low-impact exercise that anyone can do. But make sure you consult your doctor first before you do.
Get a wide, stable SUP board to minimize your chances of falling and talk to a SUP instructor if you’re a beginner. They’ll help you learn how to paddle properly and modify your SUP technique as your belly grows. Even if you’re a more experienced paddler, you can also seek the advice of someone more experienced, to ensure you’re covering all bases when it comes to ensuring your own safety.
Make sure you paddle with a partner and wear your leash and PFD at all times, and keep consulting your doctor.
Lastly, have fun!