When my wife told me we were expecting our first child I was over the moon. But one thought did strike me: What about Fi? Is she still going to be able to get on the water?
My wife does the same sports I do – windsurf, stand up paddle, surf and snowboard. Although being pregnant is great news, I realized Fi would have to slow down a little. Certainly the high impact aspect of what we do – waves, aerials and such like – would have to stop. Falling when pregnant isn’t an option.
There are, though, plenty of examples of women exercising almost until due date, in fact it’s recommended to carry on with some form of fitness to give a smoother pregnancy. Although Fi wouldn’t be charging gnarly waves there was absolutely no reason she couldn’t enjoy mellow flat water sessions where the risk of tumbling is minimal.
We also realized that long haul trips were probably soon going to be out for a while. Our love affair with the Caribbean would have to be put on hold until the sprog was a little older. However, we thought one last sojourn to the Tropics was in order, and so we jetted off to Grenada earlier in the year. This would give me some water time under a hot sun and allow Fi to relax and indulge in some flat water SUP, along with plenty of non-alcoholic cocktails and scrumptious food.
We opted to travel with an inflatable 10ft BIC SUP as there isn’t really anywhere to rent (yet) on Grenada. Baggage restrictions on some flights from the UK mean traveling to the Spice Isle with hard boards isn’t possible – inflatables really are ideal for these scenarios.
We would split our base between Grande Anse and Morne Rouge – swapping between hotels in the process. From here you can access all the main SUP spots while being in striking distance of entertainment and restaurants.
Grande Anse, for the most part, offers flat water SUPing along two thirds of its white sandy expanse. If the breeze is blowing then you have some quite fun downwind paddling conditions, although care should be taken as the wind angle is always slightly offshore. The southern corner of Grande Anse is where you’ll find short, sharp waves to play on if there’s surf pumping.
The first few days saw a strong pulse of northerly swell, which was serving up some decent walls in front of the Dive Grenada shop. Not really ideal for a mommy to be, Fi wisely chose to sit these sessions out.
Fortunately for Fi the waves slowly dropped off and she could get out for a few flat water sweeps – mainly in the morning before the breeze ramped up. Morne Rouge (or BBC Beach as the locals refer to it) is a lot more sheltered and Fi managed more brine time here.
In between paddling we got the opportunity to snorkel Grenada’s new underwater sculpture park – a fantastic pregnant activity as there really is no major exertive forces placed on the woman’s body. We enjoyed some sumptuous meals at various Grenadian eateries, and all in all this was the perfect trip to unwind and prepare for our new arrival.
Molly Anne Plavenieks landed on July 13 2014 and we’re now enjoying the new addition to our family. Fi is back on the water, although due to having an emergency caesarean it’s been small steps at a time. Fortunately SUP is the perfect recovery sport, helping core muscles become strong again.
You can see more of Tez’s (and family) adventures at: tez plavenieks.com
FI’S TOP TIPS FOR PADDLING WHILE PREGNANT:
Most importantly, if in doubt always take advice from your midwife. Fi had a very straightforward, low risk pregnancy; paddling might not suit every mum-to-be.
Now isn’t the time to be setting records. Use SUP to maintain your fitness but listen to your body and don’t push it.
Pick your conditions carefully and be on top of the forecast to ensure you aren’t caught out if the wind or swell ramps up.
Be realistic about when it’s time to call it a day. For Fi, 30 weeks pregnant felt about the right time to stop – her balance started to change and she felt noticeably more wobbly even on big, floaty boards.
Paddle with someone else. It’s more fun anyway, and you’ve got back up – just in case.
If you haven’t paddled much before then consider taking a lesson first and getting guidance on a suitable, stable board to use.
Tez Plavenieks is a freelance writer that specialises in action sports and travel. He currently edits, writes and produces content for a variety of different outlets both online and in print.