When your family plans their annual trip to the mountains to ski, or down to the lake to boat, you probably have some outdoor activities you’re especially excited for. But when you’re expecting, some of those things (like jumping off the dock or skiing while pregnant) might be off the table. If you’re wondering, whether it’s safe to go tubing while pregnant, experts recommend you wait until after you give birth to ride anything inflatable anywhere.
“The main concern in pregnancy is contact to the abdomen, so the advice is to avoid contact sports or activities with a significant risk of falling or collision. This can cause direct injury to the uterus, placenta, or fetus with hard impact,” explains Dr. MargEva Cole, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN at Duke Health, in an interview with Romper.
Whether you do your tubing by snow or by sea (or river, or lake, or...you know), doctors would rather you postpone the fun until your baby is no longer on board.
Snow tubing during pregnancy
Unlike skiing or snowboarding, which can take time to learn, snow tubing is great for just about anyone. You hop onto an inflated inner tube and slide down a snowy hillside to the bottom. You can go snow tubing anywhere there’s a slope with snow, or visit ski resorts with special snow tubing tracks.
But when you’re pregnant, it’s not a good idea to participate in any activities where you could fall, or crash into an object or another person, like ice skating or sledding while pregnant. The same goes for hopping on a tube to take a ride down a snowy hill.
“Tubing can involve a lot of bumping and jarring, which is not recommended in pregnancy,” says Cole. “Even if the pregnancy is not injured, the pregnant person may be very crampy, achy, and sore the next day, which may cause alarm.”
Water tubing during pregnancy
Whether water tubing is safe depends on which kind you mean. There’s floating in a tube down a lazy river or at the springs, and then there’s getting pulled behind a boat (and inevitably flung into the water).
The same advice Cole gives for snow tubing — to avoid it when you’re pregnant — applies to tubing behind a boat. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends avoiding most high-risk activities while pregnant, such as:
- Contact sports and sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, including ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball.
- Activities that may result in a fall, such as downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, and horseback riding.
- “Hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” which may cause you to become overheated.
- Scuba diving.
- Activities performed above 6,000 feet (if you do not already live at a high altitude).
Since you’re usually laying on your belly while water tubing, it’s pretty much a hard no. “The concern is greatest in the second and third trimester when the uterus is large enough to be out of the pelvis and up into the abdomen, where it is less protected,” Cole says.
As for tubing in springs or down a lazy river, that’s another story. “Tubing on a flat, slow river is fine if you’re able to swim and wear appropriate sunblock. Tubing on a river or creek with any rapids would not be advised due to risk of collision or being caught in turbulent currents,” says Cole.
If you happen to have gone tubing recently and only learned you were pregnant after, don’t let that scare you too much, adds Cole. “If someone is very early in their pregnancy and does not realize they are pregnant, it’s very unlikely that snow tubing or water tubing would be a risk for the pregnancy.”
Even the most experienced athletes have to be careful about their physical activity while pregnant, depending on their sport of choice, says Cole.
“During pregnancy, there may be very experienced equestrians or skiers who choose to ride or ski in a low-impact manner, like a quiet trail ride or skiing an easy groomed run. They need to be aware that they are still at risk of an unplanned fall or collision.”
So, it seems the answer to, ‘Can you go tubing while pregnant?’ is a resounding no. Maybe this is the year you take up snowshoeing, floating in a tube at the water’s edge, or something else a little more relaxing. You can get back in the action postpartum.
Dr. MargEva Cole, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN at Duke Health