Can you surf while pregnant? A helpful guide for soon-to-be-mums

Can you surf while pregnant? A helpful guide for soon-to-be-mums

Can you surf while pregnant? A helpful guide for soon-to-be-mums

If you're currently going through one of life's biggest transformations but you're also a stoked out surfer, you might be wondering whether it's safe to surf while pregnant.

Funnily enough, with the amount of soon-to-be-surf-mums out there, you'd think there would be more information on the topic. A cursory search however reveals that it's not as widely discussed as you'd imagine... maybe even somewhat taboo.

Here at Kala Surf, we're all about inclusion and supporting women in their surfing journey, so we've put together this helpful article to answer the burning question: can you surf while pregnant?

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for proper health or medical advice. Please consult your doctor before participating in physical activities such as surfing if you are pregnant.

Is it safe to surf when you're pregnant?

Based on what we've read from the experts, it's safe to surf while you're pregnant.

Bethany Hamilton surfed while she was pregnant. So did pro longboarder Kelia Moniz and big wave surfer Justine Dupont (although she wasn't tackling 50ft Nazare, mind you). That said, you also shouldn't feel pressure to surf if you're not feeling up to it during your pregnancy.

Every woman's body and pregnancy is different and what works for one might not work for others, which brings us to our next point.

Pregnant surfing: a personal decision

Choosing whether to surf or not during your pregnancy is a personal decision.

You must of course listen to your body and consider any potential risks or complications that may arise. You should also consult your OBGYN, doctor or healthcare provider before doing any physical activity such as surfing.

Ultimately though, you're embarking on an intensely personal journey of womanhood. This means that you of all people can make an informed decision on whether or not you should keep hitting the waves.

Once that bump forms, you'll begin seeing things differently. Not only will it affect your centre of gravity, but you'll also start valuing the safety of yourself and your child above everything else. Your body will change and you'll start to experience new limitations, sensations and feelings.

This is an unquestionably beautiful experience, but it can also be challenging. Being pregnant will slow you down, both on land and when you're surfing. It's important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Benefits of surfing during your pregnancy

  • Physical fitness: Surfing helps maintain overall physical fitness, keeping muscles toned and cardiovascular health in check. This is crucial during pregnancy, as it aids in maintaining a healthy weight and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Stress relief: The calming nature of the ocean, combined with the focus required for surfing, provides excellent stress relief. Reduced stress levels contribute to a healthier pregnancy, benefiting both the mother and the unborn child.
  • Improved balance: Surfing improves balance and coordination, which can be beneficial during pregnancy as your centre of gravity shifts. This helps in better managing the physical changes your body undergoes.
  • Endorphin boost: Physical activities like surfing release endorphins, the body's natural feel-good hormones. This boost in mood can help combat pregnancy-related mood swings and depression.
  • Connect with nature: Being in the ocean and surrounded by nature can enhance your overall sense of well-being. This connection with the natural environment can have a grounding effect, helping you to feel more centred and calm.
  • Enhanced circulation: Surfing involves continuous movement, which promotes improved blood circulation. This can help reduce swelling, a common issue during pregnancy, and ensure better oxygen flow to both you and your baby.
  • Socialising: Surfing is a social activity that allows you to connect with other surfers. Maintaining social connections is important for emotional wellbeing, providing support and a sense of community.
  • Mindfulness: Surfing requires concentration and presence of mind, fostering mindfulness. Being in the moment can reduce anxiety about the future for a calmer and more peaceful pregnancy experience.

How each trimester can impact your surfing

Being pregnant is one big rollercoaster of changes, and those changes will impact your surfing differently depending on which trimester you're in.

Again, everyone's experience throughout pregnancy is different, but here are some general guidelines on how each trimester may affect your surfing.

First trimester - weeks 1-12

During the first trimester, many women experience extreme fatigue and nausea, making it difficult to maintain a regular exercise routine.

If you're feeling sick or tired, it's important to listen to your body and take breaks when necessary. This may mean hitting pause on surfing for a few weeks or modifying your surf sessions to be shorter and less intense.

Second trimester - weeks 13-26

The second trimester is often referred to as the "golden period" of pregnancy, when many women feel their best. However, it's important to continue listening to your body and making any necessary adjustments during this time.

You may still experience some physical limitations due to your growing belly, but you can modify your surfing routine by using a larger board or taking shorter rides.

Third trimester - weeks 27-40+

As you near the end of your pregnancy, it may become more challenging to surf due to your growing belly and changes in balance and coordination.

It's important to be cautious and make any necessary modifications to ensure the safety of both you and your baby. This may mean avoiding bigger or more challenging waves and sticking to calmer waters.

Tips for surfing while pregnant

Before you decide to take the plunge with your little bean, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Consult with your doctor: As mentioned earlier, it's important to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before engaging in any physical activity during pregnancy. They can provide personalised advice and guidance based on your specific health needs.
  • Stay hydrated: Pregnancy increases the body's need for water, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your surf session.
  • Wear a supportive swimsuit: As your belly grows, you may need to invest in a swimsuit that provides more support and coverage. This will help with comfort and stability while surfing.
  • Board size matters: It's easier to paddle and maintain balance on a larger board, so consider using a bigger board during pregnancy. Soft tops are also recommended for added stability. Don't be afraid to ask your hubby or partner for a push, either!
  • Adjust your expectations: Understand that pregnancy will bring physical limitations and be kind to yourself if you can't surf at the same level as before. Adjust your expectations and focus on enjoying the experience of being in the ocean rather than pushing yourself too hard.
  • Listen to your body: This cannot be stressed enough - always listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right or if you're experiencing pain or discomfort, stop surfing and seek medical advice from your OBGYN if necessary.

Final thoughts

There's only one person who has a say in whether or not you can surf pregnant, and that's you.

Yes, pregnant women can surf. No, being a pregnant surfer doesn't make you an irresponsible parent. As long as you take the necessary precautions, listen to your body and consult with your doctor or OBGYN, surfing can be a safe and enjoyable activity during pregnancy. 

Besides, you're practically setting your young one up to be a pro surfer, and that's pretty cool. Happy surfing, mamas!

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