Can I kayak while pregnant?

The sounds of doors slamming throughout Hughesville.

The Hughes Brothers just left, most of them running at what amounts – for them – at full speed. Sister Cindy will handle this question all alone.

Listen to your body.

We women know the usual, fully expected consequences of pregnancy: fatigue, hormonal imbalances, a growing appetite, and on. And on. So now, in these precious months, rely on your body’s signals. Listen to them, and obey them.

Begin only with your doctor’s approval.

If your doctor allows you to continue paddling in general, heed every last bit of his advice. I’ll proceed without my brothers’ participation in their largely irrelevant way. I’ll share my own experience on the water while pregnant as a thought-starter if nothing else. We’ll assume that you, as did I, manifest no complications in a low-risk pregnancy.

Then I put away any hint of guilt.

I believe that the best gift I might have given my son Reed were those beliefs, those interests, those talents that are uniquely mine to give. There was a time in my life when I lived to paddle. I traveled with my brothers on river trips all over America. And then, after I married, I took time away from my public-relations business to travel with my husband, as his work took him to places where I just knew a rental kayak waited on me. Reed, I was determined, would soon enough enjoy the watery places of our new life together.

No guilt. None.

Can I kayak while pregnant? Consider the physical nature of the sport.

Some sports demand that you bear your full weight. Not kayaking. I simply sat comfortably in my boat. And brought those practiced, easy movements to bear. As always I had.

Kayaking is safer than bicycling. It creates less stress on your frame than running. Even my yoga practice made me feel unbalanced in a way that kayaking never did.

Take a break when you’re tired. Again, be aware of your body. If you’re heating up, splash some water.

Can I kayak while pregnant? Never yak alone while pregnant.

Always, always yak with your husband or boyfriend, with someone who can rescue you immediately. Effectively. Safely for you and baby. And, in your own behalf, you should be a strong, strong swimmer. With enough personal protective and flotation devices for not two, but three yakkers.

Can I kayak while pregnant? Never yak alone while pregnant. Consider the physical nature of the water.

Beware the rocks. Beware any sort of obstacles in the water that might jostle, much less knock, your abdomen. Be afraid of any water whose speed makes you even the slightest bit nervous.

Listen to the opposition, opposition you respect.

My friend Mary was horrified when she learned of my intention to keep kayaking through multiple months of pregnancy. Her arguments came to this: “But, Cindy, all that twisting. All that movement, that jerking of your hips. And the compression of your belly! And oh my gosh, girl, if you happened to turn over? All that stress as you try to right the boat.”

Mary made her points well. Then I reminded my well-meaning friend that she spoke from the vantage point of one . . . one! . . . kayaking class. I assured her that my years of paddling had refined my movements. Had taught me best practices that flowed like the water itself. No jerking. No straining.

If you choose not to listen to your friends all aghast, have your own reasons for staying on the water. That little human inside you most of all.

Can I kayak while pregnant? Never yak alone while pregnant. Take a kayak built for two.

All the arguments against your enjoyment of your sport diminish in a hurry, if you assure your worried friends that you’ll be safely paddling ahead of the man in your life.

I hope pregnant you enjoy your time in your boat as much as I’ve enjoyed my brothers being completely gone for a while.