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Is canoeing safe during pregnancy?

Updated August 3, 2022

Are you pregnant and love outdoor activities? 

Are you wondering is canoeing safe during pregnancy?

You are NOT alone!

Pregnant women often ask if it is safe to participate in certain activities, such as canoeing. 

The answer to this question is not always straightforward.


Is Canoeing Safe During Pregnancy



But, our OB/GYN Dr. Doug Penta said that generally speaking, canoeing is safe during pregnancy with the following stipulations:

1. You should be experienced at canoeing and good with your balance and coordination even when you are not pregnant.

Pregnancy is not a good time to learn a new sport or physical activity that is physically demanding.

(Regardless, you should not go canoeing in your third trimester since balancing can be very difficult.)

2. If you have any health problems or pregnancy complications discuss canoeing with your doctor or midwife before you head out with your canoe.



canoeing while pregnant



Is canoeing safe during pregnancy?

Overall, canoeing is a safe activity during pregnancy as long as you follow some basic rules:

  • Always wear a life jacket when out on the water, even if you know how to swim.
  • Never go canoeing alone and carry a cell phone with you.
  • Avoid areas where there is a strong current flowing underfoot by staying close to shorelines when possible–this will help prevent capsizing accidents.
  • Be aware that heavy winds may cause waves that can capsize your canoe. Remember safety first!!
  • Be careful not to hit your stomach against anything hard while in the boat!


Here are some additional recommendations to keep your canoeing experience during pregnancy safe and enjoyable:


  • Wear comfortable clothing:

This includes shoes that are appropriate for water activities, that offer good traction and protection.

Avoid clothing that gets heavy when submerged.

Even with a life jacket on, when clothes get soaked, it can be difficult to swim.


  • Use pregnancy-safe sunscreen and wear a hat:

If you’re going to be out on the water for an extended period of time, it is easy to get a sunburn, especially with water activities.

Often times we forget how long we are exposed to the sun when engaged in an activity we enjoy.

Wear a hat to protect your scalp and the back of your neck from the sun.



canoeing while pregnant



  • Bring your water bottle:

Dehydration can happen easily when canoeing in the summer heat!

Even if you are not feeling thirsty while canoeing, you want to make sure to drink fluids regularly.

If possible consider drinking some electrolyte-enhanced drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade.


  • Bring a snack:

Pack lots of water, snacks, or other food items so that you’re never hungry while canoeing during pregnancy!

Your metabolism is far more active during pregnancy.

This requires that you eat more frequent small meals/snacks to avoid feeling tired or nauseous, especially when engaging in outdoor physical activities like canoeing.


  • Bring your phone:

Bring your cell phone just in case of emergencies – it may come in handy if there’s an accident while out on the water.

You can keep your phone safe with a waterproof case.

It might be tempting to leave it on the shore, but you want to make sure you reach out for help easily should you need to.


  • Take frequent breaks:

Take breaks as needed.

If you start feeling tired or lightheaded after paddling for extended periods of time, stop for a rest.

If you feel fatigued even after a rest, it is time to head back to shore and call it a day.


  • Only Two People In One Canoe:

Though there are times when more than two people will ride in one canoe.

When pregnant, you only want one other person in the canoe with you.

Canoes can tip over too easily especially when there are more than two people in a canoe.


  • Never stand up in a canoe:

The changes in weight distribution during pregnancy make it difficult to maintain stability.

In a canoe, this instability is far more pronounced.

Make sure you have someone assist you in getting in and out of the canoe until you are seated.


While there are some risks associated with canoeing during pregnancy, there are also many benefits. 


The benefits of canoeing while pregnant:

Canoeing is a beneficial activity during pregnancy

  • You get outside in nature, which has been shown to reduce stress levels.
  • Canoeing helps strengthen your muscles and increases your physical stamina both of which can make your third trimester and labor easier.
  • Physical activity during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Exercise has been shown to decreases labor and makes delivery easier.
  • Exercise has been shown to improve mood.
  • Can improve your pregnancy sleep
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy


However, there are some risks associated with canoeing during pregnancy:

  • Risk of hitting your baby bump on the side of the boat if you fall out of your canoe.
  • Risk of being pulled under by the current if you lose your balance and tip over.
  • Risk of cutting your feet on rocks or sharp debris in the water.


Final Thoughts

If these precautions are taken, then there should be no problem with enjoying this sport while pregnant!

I hope this article was helpful in answering some common questions about canoeing during pregnancy.

Safe travels and have fun out there!



  • Doug Penta MD OB/GYN

    Dr. Doug Penta, MD - Co-Founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions Dr. Doug Penta, is a seasoned Obstetrician and Gynecologist with over 38 years of practice, co-founded Maternity Comfort Solutions to provide evidence-based pregnancy and parenting information. A Boston University alum and former Clinical Professor at Harvard, his articles on Maternity Comfort Solutions offer expectant mothers invaluable nutritional insights.

  • Sue Winters RN

    Sue Winters, RN - Co-Founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions Sue combines 20 years of nursing with a rich background in early childhood education. Co-founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions, her articles provide creative toddler activities and practical tips on pregnancy nutrition and baby shower planning, embodying her commitment to supporting families through early parenthood.

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