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Paddling While Pregnant

When Nashville Paddle Co. SUP instructor and Hala Gear Ambassador Jacky Dustin Good posted some awesome pregnancy photos from Jennie Pyfferoen (Photography), both Jacky and the photographer got some push-back…”Is that safe?” people asked.

This is a paddling blog and not medical advice, so if you have concerns about your own SUP activity while pregnant, please speak to your own doctor. However, Jacky kept paddling during her pregnancy (and thinks it contributed to an easy, five-hour birth) and has a happy and healthy daughter, so we asked her to tell us whatsSUP with paddling while pregnant:

A doula friend of mine compared giving birth to “a marathon.” While labor definitely intimidated me, my build and athleticism was what gave me hope for an active natural childbirth experience. One of my first questions to my OB/GYN was, “Can I still paddle board and play beach volleyball?” “Yes!” she said, explaining I can–and should–continue the same activities I’d been doing before pregnancy. I, of course, stopped diving for volleyballs (and quit playing altogether at 34 weeks), but I paddleboarded up until the day before I went into labor.

Some people expressed concern when seeing me pregnant on a paddleboard, assuming it was unsafe. And while I probably wouldn’t start an activity that requires good balance with 30 extra pounds on my abdomen, my six years of experience (plus being PaddleFit and WPA certified) made me more than comfortable on the water. A few changes:

  • I never paddled alone once while pregnant .
  • I bought a bigger and sturdier board (the Hala Straight Up ) because it was more stable (and will be great when I have a baby on board next year!)
  • I asked a friend to help inflate my SUP when it wore me out.
  • Getting back on the board when I fell or wanted to swim was a bit of a challenge with my watermelon-sized belly, but it just meant I had to take my time with it like with everything else.
  • My paddle stroke didn’t change much, although some days my pace slowed down.

Besides loving to SUP, my pregnant self knew that keeping my core strong for labor was essential. And what better way to do that than stand up paddle? Unlike most of my other workouts, if I did happen to fall down, it’d be into the water, which is low impact. Not to mention what an absolute relief swimming ended up being, with the pressure of all that extra weight disappearing. Some days I went out just to do that, and others I simply enjoyed sitting on my board and dipping my swollen ankles into the water.

I believe staying active in SUP kept me in shape for a safe and speedy childbirth. No doubt it helped keep me relaxed on those days I could have been stressing out, (important during pregnancy!). I owe a lot to SUP, and I don’t ever see me quitting. I only see me making more paddlers.


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