Skiing & Snowboarding While Pregnant: Is It Safe?

Pregnant woman enjoying cross country skiing
Christa Burkett
By Christa Burkett
Last updated on December 11, 2021
Table of Contents

Pregnancy is a really exciting time of your life, but it can also be scary and confusing. Many moms-to-be find themselves sacrificing their interests and hobbies for their little ones. However, there are still many great things to do and experience while you're pregnant.

Whether you can ski or snowboard during your pregnancy mainly depends on how far along you are. It can be considered safe for some mothers; however, there are a few risk factors you will need to take into consideration before booking anything.

Benefits Of Skiing And Snowboarding For Pregnant Women

Exercising while you are pregnant can have many great benefits - both for your body and your mind. In fact, keeping your fitness levels up can help prevent back pain and swelling and relieve constipation and bloating.

Skiing while pregnant allows you to strengthen your muscles and joints, which helps your body carry the extra weight of your baby more comfortably.

It can also do wonders for your mental health. Pregnancy hormones can cause your mood to fluctuate from day to day, but feeling that fresh mountain air on your face and in your lungs can boost your wellbeing and help you to get a better night's sleep.

Skiing And Snowboarding Safely While Pregnant

Happy pregnant woman on a snowy hill

Many OBs and gynecologists would not recommend participating in extreme sports such as skiing and snowboarding while you're pregnant. However, many mothers-to-be have found a way to take part in this form of exercise safely.

So unless you have been ordered to bed rest by your doctor or your pregnancy is considered high-risk, you can take to the slopes. It's a good idea to stick to groomed trails that are below your regular ability. Even if you are an experienced skier, you should know (and stick to) your limits while steering clear of any new runs or tricks.

Cross-country skiing is less dangerous and may be an excellent alternative to riding downhill at high speeds for pregnant women. It's still a lot of exercise and a beautiful way to experience the mountains.

In general, it is considered safer to ski or snowboard in the first few months of pregnancy rather than nearer your due date. This is because when you are in your first trimester, the uterus is still within the protective shell of the pelvis.

Once you pass that 12-week mark, any fall or trip could directly impact your baby and require a trip to the ER. So if you want to ski or snowboard while pregnant and protect your baby bump, you might prefer to go when you are in the first and second trimester rather than the third trimester.

The Risks Involved

Altitude sickness

If you were a competent skier before you fell pregnant, high altitudes probably didn't bother you at all. You could get to the top of the highest mountain at the ski resort and glide down without a care in the world. But, as with a lot of other things, pregnancy hormones can change that.

You can find that the sudden elevation changes leave you feeling sick and nauseous, known as altitude sickness. This very much feels like morning sickness and can lead to vomiting and loss of appetite, meaning your baby may not get all the nutrients they need.

The lack of oxygen at high altitudes can also put stress on your organs and, therefore, your baby's too.

Falls

woman skier falling down on mountain slope

This is one of the biggest risks that comes with skiing while pregnant. And, seeing as even the most avid skier falls from time to time, it's easy to see why this is such a big risk factor.

While falls are a common sight on the slopes, the risk gets even more significant when you are pregnant. This is because the additional weight from your bump can throw off your balance, as your center of gravity has now changed.

Falls are risky, whether you are pregnant or not. However, the trauma of a fall is likely to interfere with your pregnancy regardless of which trimester you are in, so it is vital to be extra careful when skiing pregnant.

Colliding with other skiers or snowboarders

Colliding with other skiers or snowboarders is a legitimate risk factor as it can lead to you falling, or worse, someone else falling on top of you and your unborn baby.

Whether it's nordic or cross country skiing, you don't always see other people coming, and sometimes you just can't get out of the way in time.

You can't control how many people will be at the resort at any one time, but a good idea to try and avoid crowds is to snowboard or ski midweek. This is usually the time where there are fewer people, in comparison to the busier weekends.

Other health risks

In the medley of hormones produced while you are pregnant, the hormone called relaxin is one of them. This hormone affects your tendons and ligaments and makes them much more relaxed. Unfortunately, this can make it harder for you to stay in control while gliding down the slopes, possibly leading to a fall.

You're also more susceptible to fatigue and dehydration during pregnancy, especially at high elevations. This can cause deficiencies in nutrients that are vital for both your health and your baby's. To prevent this, always make sure you have enough water with you and keep taking sips at regular intervals.

It's essential to know your limits as your body is not the same as it was before there was a bun in the oven. There are some warning signs that tell you your body needs a break, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Feeling lightheaded, fatigued, or dizzy
  • Experiencing pain or soreness of any kind
  • You are feeling anxious or worried

If any of these symptoms apply, it's probably best to take a break from skiing. You can stay snuggled up drinking hot cocoa in the cozy lodge instead. Remember to always contact your doctor if you are worried.

What The Experts Say

Pregnant woman enjoying cross country skiing

As exciting as going on a family skiing or snowboarding trip is, you've got to do what is best for you and your baby.

The experts over at The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advise against any 'activity that may result in a fall.' This means that any type of extreme sport, including skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, or riding a mountain bike, is not usually recommended during pregnancy.

However, this does not mean that skiing and snowboarding are completely off-limits. In this situation, the best thing you can do is contact your doctor and allow them to assess your health (and your baby's too) before booking a week skiing.

Top Tips For Snowboarding And Skiing During Pregnancy

Stay hydrated

Female snowboarder is drinking water from a bottle to stay hydrated on the mountain

Dehydration in pregnancy can lead to a low amount of amniotic fluid around your baby, as well as a decreased supply of breast milk after birth. So make sure that you have enough water to keep you adequately hydrated for the time that you are away on the slopes.

Ensure you feel comfortable

Staying warm and comfortable should be your top priority, whether you are skiing or snowboarding or even sitting in the rental cabin.

You can ensure this by arriving prepared and bringing ski clothing such as ski pants, gloves, a snowboard jacket, and ski goggles.

Stay warm

man putting on thermal socks over his ski underwear

Building upon wearing comfortable clothes that do not restrict your movement or obscure your vision on the slopes, you should also make sure to stay warm.

While this holds true for everyone on the slope, you'll typically be skiing or snowboarding at a lower intensity than if you were not pregnant which means less body heat is generated.

We recommend checking out our guide on base layers for snow sports to ensure you don't end up freezing on the slopes.

Take it easy

No two bodies are the same, and neither are two pregnancies. So follow the signs that your body and mind are giving you, and if you start to feel tired, then it's a good idea to take a break.

Know your limits beforehand, too. If you have only just taken up skiing as a hobby, then skiing pregnant is probably not a good idea. However, if you have been taught skiing at a young age and have continued the skill, or you are a trained expert, your skills are likely high enough so you can safely go on easier trails for those nine months.

Use the chair lift

Woman skier on a ski lift

One thing you definitely should not do when skiing pregnant is to climb up the mountains by yourself. Instead, always use the chair lift that is offered for a safe and comfortable journey up the slopes so you can fully enjoy the glide down.

FAQs

Is it safe to ski during pregnancy?

Yes, although this does not apply to everyone. As long as your pregnancy is fairly straightforward and risk-free and you have the approval of your doctor or OBGYN, then you are free to ski and snowboard safely while pregnant.

What activities should be avoided during pregnancy?

There are some types of physical activities that should be avoided during pregnancy. For example, you should steer clear of anything that causes bouncy movements, such as horse riding, or where there is a high chance of being hit in the abdomen, such as ice hockey.

What sports are safe during pregnancy?

Depending on your skill levels, many types of physical activity can be considered safe in pregnancy - including skiing. If you are not up to high adrenaline sports, you can always go for something more relaxing, such as water aerobics, yoga, or jogging.

Christa Burkett

Christa Burkett

Christa is an avid skier who loves to explore the world. She has a particular love for speed and snow which she first found in her adulthood but since then she's made up for it by volunteering at ski resorts and learning from the best.
Published December 11, 2021
Last updated December 11, 2021
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