Boating is a hobby and professional activity for many people around the world, including many women. And since there is a considerable number of women involved in boating, a natural question arises – is boating when pregnant safe?
This is the exact question that we will an answer to today.
Boating and pregnancy: is it safe?
Let’s give a simple answer to this question from the get-go. Boating is completely safe during pregnancy if in calm water. Conversely, on a stormy day, boating for expectant mothers is a no-go.
This is due to one key problem associated with pregnancy – loss of balance. Before the pregnancy, rocking and waves may not have been big problems for you. But since there is some degree of balance loss during pregnancy, it is likely that you won’t be as stable onboard as before.
Another issue is nausea. If you aren’t prone to seasickness, then you may go boating while pregnant. Otherwise, it is likely that you will get motion sick onboard.
It is also important to consult your physician before boating. If you don’t have any complications, then you should not have any problems once onboard. However, if you have pregnancy complications that may need urgent medical assistance, your physician will likely discourage you from boating during pregnancy. And they will be right since while on the boat, there may be no one who could provide you with medical assistance.
Things to consider when boating during pregnancy
So we’ve established that boating is safe for pregnancy, but only in certain conditions. Let’s now have a look at the things that would determine whether the boating conditions are right or not for you to set off on a journey.
Nature of the boating
The first thing to consider when boating during pregnancy is the nature of the boating trip. If you happen to be a whitewater kayaker, for example, then you obviously will have to take a pause for the entire pregnancy since it will be too much for you. On the other hand, calm cruising shouldn’t be much of a problem for you.
This one may surprise you, but the boat size is quite an important thing to consider when going boating during pregnancy. Let us explain.
Bigger vessels better absorb the shock of waves and are thus more stable on the water. Smaller vessels, conversely, are less shock-resistant and are thrown around by choppy water easier.
We’ve mentioned earlier that loss of balance and stability is a common condition during pregnancy. Due to this, you would want to go for a larger boat that is more stable on the water, i.e. is larger.
Speed is another thing that plays a role when boating. The faster the boat is traversing, the more powerful the effects of impact with water are, and the less smooth the ride is. In a smaller boat, this is going to be felt much stronger than in a larger boat.
In a smaller boat, you would definitely want to have a slower and smoother cruising. Hitting the wakes can be uncomfortable for you, as well as dangerous to the baby. With bigger boats, speed isn’t as much of a concern, though fast cruising in choppy water is nonetheless going to be felt by you.
Onboard medical facilities
This may not be necessary for short trips close to the shore, but if you are going to do lengthy trips, make sure that the vessel has onboard medical facilities. You won’t necessarily go into labor if not that far into the pregnancy, but you aren’t safeguarded from other problems that pregnancy brings with it.
The weather condition in the area you will be cruising is another crucial thing to consider. It is generally advised that expectant mothers go boating only in fair-weather. No matter what kind of a boat you will be having your journey on, if the weather is bad and the water restless, you won’t feel too good while boating.
The last crucial thing to consider is the pregnancy stage you are at. Generally, it is recommended to avoid boating in the first and third trimesters when the fetus is the most vulnerable. Try to plan your boating trips only during the second trimester.
Aside from the safety of the fetus, an important thing to consider is nausea. Nausea tends to be especially problematic during the first and third trimesters of the pregnancy.
Being a typical symptom during pregnancy, nausea can cause seasickness while onboard. Even if you’ve never felt any motion sickness in your life – be it on a boat or plane – it is likely that it will occur during pregnancy.
Needless to say, if you have been normally seasick while onboard before, you can be sure that it will be worse for you during pregnancy. In this case, we’d recommend avoiding boating during pregnancy altogether.
Another thing to consider before boating is labor. The closer the due date is, the more careful you need to be with planning your boating trips. To stay on the safer side, you should avoid any boat trips if the end of the pregnancy is closing in.
Alternatively, stay close to the marina so that you can be provided medical assistance if you go into labor. But if possible, avoid any boat trips. Again, the second trimester is going to be the best since it is safer for you and the baby, as well as is far from the due date.
If this isn’t your first pregnancy and you’ve had issues with preterm birth before, then you should postpone your boating trip until the baby is born since it will be impossible to predict when you may go into labor.
What to do before going on a trip
There are a couple of things that you could do to make your trip as safe and comfortable as possible. The below steps apply more to long journeys, so they may not entirely work for fishing trips or whatnot. Still, you could consider them regardless of the length of the trip.
- Schedule a checkup with your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob/gyn) before leaving.
- Know your estimated delivery date.
- Make a list of over-the-counter medications to bring along for your trip. Your physician is going to provide you with advice on what you may need during the journey.
- Make sure that you are up to date with your vaccines.
- Take a shorter route to your destination.
Tips on boating when pregnant
Consult your physician
Before planning any boating trips, you should first and foremost consult your physician. No one will be able to give you a more accurate answer on whether you should go boating or not than a medical professional. While tips online can help you better prepare for what may be waiting for you onboard, you will get no more than some generic tips that won’t work in specific conditions.
Take the time to prepare for the trip
Make careful preparations for your boating trip. Pack a safety & comfort bag that includes everything you may need during the trip. Since your needs during pregnancy are increased, your old packing routine will not work well.
Your bag should include plenty of water, snacks, medications, an extra set of clothes, sunscreen, and anything else that would help you have a nice time. When it comes to food, you don’t necessarily have to pack for the whole journey – you may eat our or order foot on the spot. However, if you are very picky about food during pregnancy, it would be a better idea for you to pack stuff that you know isn’t going to make you feel sick.
Be mindful of personal hygiene
A big concern for boat passengers – especially expectant mothers – is the norovirus infection. The symptoms of this infection are severe nausea and vomiting, as well as ultimately dehydration. Needless to say, these are the things that you would want the least during your pregnancy.
People can easily become infected by noroviruses from food, liquids, or touching contaminated surfaces. Thus, while onboard, you should frequently wash your hands to safeguard yourself from any infection. In addition, the norovirus infection is another reason, aside from pickiness, to bring your own food onboard.
Stay cool and hydrated
Since you will probably go boating in the heat of the summer, it is crucial that you stay hydrated and cool. Make sure to bring plenty of water with you for the trip. Take more than you normally would.
As for protecting yourself from the heat of the sun, sit in the shade when possible. Alternatively, stay cool at the marine pool or anchor out in the water. The lightness and coolness the water delivers will surely make you feel great.
A thing to keep in mind is that, if possible, you should avoid going boating on very hot days. It will be more difficult to keep yourself cool. Instead, try to plan your trips on cooler days.
Wear a lifejacket
Another thing you should do is wear a lifejacket at all times. You should wear a lifejacket even if you haven’t had the habit of wearing it all the time while on a vessel.
Due to the loss of stability during pregnancy, it is likelier that you will come off balance and fall off the ship. No matter whether you are a great swimmer or not, wearing a lifejacket is mandatory during pregnancy.
A thing to keep in mind is that you will most likely have to buy a new lifejacket to wear. Your tummy will grow bigger, so the older size will no longer fit you. And if you are early in the pregnancy, be mindful that your tummy will get bigger as time goes on.
Avoid walking on the boat
It would also be great if you didn’t walk onboard that much. The reason for this is again your reduced sense of balance. Make sure to stay organized and keep your essentials with you so that you don’t have to go back and forth too often. Besides, stay close to necessary facilities like restrooms.
Stay in the stern of the boat
The bow of the ship – that is, its front – Is taking most of the beating from water, so another good idea may be staying closer to the stern.
Avoid lifting heavy gear
With a worsened sense of balance, lifting heavy gear can be a very bad idea. You are having problems with keeping your own weight stable, so needless to say, the added weight of the gear won’t do any good to you. Don’t go boating alone and let someone else do the lifting for you.
Avoid drinking alcohol
Another thing that you should avoid doing onboard while pregnant is drinking alcohol. Not only is it going to throw you off balance, but it is also likely going to harm the fetus. This actually is a tip that isn’t boating-specific and should be followed throughout the pregnancy.
In the end, it turns out that boating during pregnancy is completely safe, but only if the water is still and the ship isn’t being rocked like crazy. Ideally, the vessel needs to be so steady that you don’t even notice that you aren’t on the shore. This isn’t practically achievable, but we hope that you get the idea of what we mean.
The most important piece of advice that we could give you is that you should only rely on your physician when seeking information. No one is going to provide you with information that is specific to your condition other than a physician. As we mentioned above, you should only view online material as a general guideline on how you should approach your boating trip.
Another thing we’d recommend you is not to become discouraged by the ill effects of pregnancy. Instead, perceive those 9 months as an opportunity for having a completely unique experience in your life. No one prevents you from having fun while pregnant, but it won’t be quite like before. But different doesn’t mean that it is going to be bad.
And don’t worry too much about getting back to your fishing or kayaking hobby post-pregnancy. Sure, it will take some time and effort for you to come back to shape, but nothing prevents you from doing what you love after having a baby. But it again won’t be quite the same since you will have a little companion by your side on the boat.