As an active outdoor woman, pregnancy can bring some of your favorite pastimes to a screeching halt. I have found this to be mostly the case, however there are some things you can do to prevent yourself from going totally insane. Paddleboarding was that thing for me.
I did consider, and even try, some other outdoor activities first, but with poor results. (Note to other pregnant outdoor women: your experiences may differ.)
Snowboarding? Nope. I’m prone to plonking on my butt, or straight-up going ass-over-teakettle even on the best of days. Plus, you never know when some punk kid (or adult) might take you out on the slopes. Maybe if I skied I’d take up low-impact touring. That sounded rather pleasant while sitting indoors this winter, re-watching Game of Thrones for the fourth time. In hindsight, snowshoeing would have been a great pregnant winter activity. I’ll remember that for any future pregnancies.
Rock climbing? Some ladies crush it, even when they’re preggo. Of course, stick with top-roping moderate routes, with a belayer you trust (belayer trust is important- even when not pregnant). Also, now is not the time to belay that climbing partner who likes to take massive whippers. You know the one.
Climbing might have worked for me, but I had been out of the game for a while, and starting back up when my body was chock-full of relaxin seemed like a dubious proposition. At around four months I gave it a shot on a 5.9 at Smith Rocks, but I felt uncomfortably like a limp noodle, wobbly and unable to maintain body tension. Halfway up the climb I decided to give climbing a pass. If you’re a rock star, and are interested in climbing through your pregnancy, Mountain Mama teamed up with Mad Rock to make a full-body harness specifically for pregnant bodies.
Kayaking? This seemed like the perfect activity. Seated calmly on the water I could paddle around to my heart’s content. Then I realized I needed to get the damn thing on and off the roof of my car. Mommas to be, if you’re a beast, go for it. However, at six months pregnant, I decided that attempting to (wo)man-handle my 15 foot, 50 pound boat was slightly beyond my capabilities. If you can hack it, or have a buddy, go for it! Renting can also be a great option when you’re pregnant, as you don’t have to deal with the transportation and storage.
That brings me to paddleboarding. Last summer, after being bitten by the SUP bug, I purchased my own board, the Boardworks Raven 10’6″. It is glorious. At 25 pounds I can wave it around like a sword, if I’m so inclined. Getting it on and off the car is no sweat. It’s small and manageable, yet big enough for me and my dog (when she’s feeling adventurous).
My first time out on my board this season I was just a bit over six months pregnant. Wrangling my equipment was a tad more awkward than before, but still manageable. I did pack a few more things for my trip than I normally would; mainly more snacks and extra water. I find I can get ravenous at the drop of a hat these days. To keep all my necessities accessible, I used SealLine’s Seal Pack Hip Pack. The belt stayed below my belly nicely, and allowed me quick access to my sunglasses, phone, and, most importantly, food!
As I set off, I stayed on my knees for a bit, testing my balance and overall comfort level. Once I felt secure enough, I stood up.
Important note to the preggo paddlers out there: Don’t stand up if you don’t want to! Don’t feel pressured to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Leave your ego at the launch. Kneeling, or even sitting, on the board, is totally acceptable. You’re out on the water, enjoying nature, and getting exercise. If you feel like you might sit the whole time, use a kayak paddle for a more smooth paddling experience. Heck, throw a crazy creek chair on your deck and max your relax (note: I haven’t tried this, but now I’m totally going to).
Back to standing up, I was surprised how stable I felt. Sure, there was a little bit of initial squirreliness, but it usually takes me a few minutes to get my sea legs, pregnant or not. After a couple of minutes I was zipping along. Belly? What belly? Truth be told, I did drop to my knees a few times when a big boat threw some sizable wake my way, but remember what I said above about staying comfortable? As I paddled on, I noticed that my ankles were starting to get a bit swollen. To alleviate this, I simply sat down and dangled my feet in the cool water for a bit, then brought them up on deck and did some light stretching.
It was lovely to be out on the water, in the sun, getting some exercise that felt like a treat, rather than an obligation. I highly recommend paddleboarding to pregnant ladies everywhere.
Like kayaking, renting a paddleboard is also a great way to go while pregnant. Rental companies usually stock extremely stable boards, and once again, you don’t need to deal with toting the thing around.
Get out and have fun!