This year will certainly be different than any other competition season I have ever participated in. I am 24 weeks pregnant and currently living in my Sprinter RV at the Natahala Outdoor Center training for my upcoming Team Trials. This year hasn’t changed so far in the sense that my travel schedule has remained the same and my days usually hold several hours of kayaking.

Last month I had just returned from Uganda where I learned new tricks and had another great adventure in paddling paradise. The first few weeks there, I felt 100% and I had yet to gain much weight- maybe 8 pounds total. I was super excited to be in the new Star as it has a few more gallons and the hull speed was incredible on the waves (even at my weight). I learnt how to clean blunt and all my other wave moves progressed to be even bigger and better. The trip was a success for my paddling but also a success in the sense that I came back and my mini man was healthier than ever. Even above average on height in weight. Never would I have imagined that the eating habits in Uganda would leave me with an even healthier baby. The first few weeks I paddled hard on the waves and then focused on stretching and relaxing once back on the island. By the last week I found the hard bounces on the waves hurt my back enough that stretching just wasn’t cutting it. But that did not mean I was done paddling. We packed up, went to Super Hole which is a mellow wave/ hole that offers up great paddling. There I could paddle for hours and hours straight and never get sore but certainly got tired at the end. I would always pack two protein bars with me to make sure I was fueled for my paddling and for my little man.

Once I got home jet lag certainly kicked in and I found myself relaxing more and taking the first week rather easy. Falling asleep at 4pm wasn’t helping me get over the jet lag either.


When we started paddling at Rock Island we got some great water levels with lots of rain. The boys were doing the falls often and I knew that landing hard on the big waves hurt so going off the falls weren’t going to feel too good either. So I decided to go for a mellow run down the rapids to the boat ramp where my mom would usually come pick me up. I would work on my cartwheels, wave wheels macho moves and everything that I thought would help me with performing more moves at team trials in the upcoming month. (I also did these moves just because they are super fun down river).  This kept my paddling muscles in shape. As they say that when your pregnant adjusting your body to something new is not safe or recommended for potential straining etc… But maintaining your usual routine and avoiding any heavy lifting is actually good for you. I knew that if I took paddling off at any point, I would be putting myself and the baby in more risk, so its actually more motivation for me to wake up and paddle everyday.



We packed up from home and headed out onto the infamous tour. The first stop- Natahala Outdoor Center, where my team trials will be happening at he end of April. Right over 7 months pregnant for me. So far I have been paddling almost every day. I have taken two days off so far, one day as I was worried I was coming down with a cold, and another because I am taking an antibiotic that makes me feel achy some days and I don’t want to injure anything. These off days still consist of over hour hikes with my two dogs- Rio and Rupert.


The hole requires quite a bit of energy so I have been keeping my sessions short but committed. I go into the hole working on something very specific and then the second I feel I may be getting tired I jump out to avoid any strain or potential injury. The water is very cold so I also make sure to warm up good and over dress.


Yesterday I paddled two sessions and I must say at this point being around 20 pounds heavier than I am used to, I know what its like to sink a boat. For learning anything other than a carthwheel I don’t recommend it. My thought with staying in my smaller boat is it takes me less muscle to throw it around with the moves I would like to do at team trials. It would take me more muscle thus more strain if I jump into a bigger boat, so for now I am going to continue to paddle my Star. Linking cartwheel moves has been super fun. But balancing in the bubbly foam pile and staying upright is a touch trickier. Fingers crossed I can continue paddling at this same pace over the next month just in time to get through my selections.

Everyone needs to know that being pregnant does not mean you have to stop what you are doing. You can be active as long as you are paying very close attention to your body and how your baby responds also.  Its also very important to be fully honest with your doctor on what you are doing or intend to do. I went into my first appointment saying, I want to kayak, what do I have to do to make sure I can keep paddling. You would be surprised how much more helpful they are when you don’t really give them an option. I also find that you don’t need to eat more but focus on what you are eating. Eating foods that maintain and fuel me have helped my kayaking just as much as stretching, and everything else.


Assuming you are having a normal (not high risk) pregnancy and you check in with your doctor often I would recommend anyone who is expecting or plans on expecting to keep your active lifestyle ACTIVE. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing, you might just need to pace yourself a bit.    : )


Happy paddling to all.

Emily Jackson-Troutman