Skiing During Pregnancy? Yes or No?

alyssa erickson the kid project ski while pregnant

Alyssa Erickson, of The Kid Project, rocking a baby on board while skiing.

brave ski mom logo

Dear Brave Ski Mom, 

I am expecting my first child and I recently shifted from downhill to telemark skiing.

I would really love to spend time this winter tele’ing on the blues. Can I ski during pregnancy?

How do I make this decision?

Sincerely,

H in Colorado

Dear H,

As you’ve probably gathered most doctors and midwives warn against activities such as skiing, surfing, and horseback riding during pregnancy. These activities are considered “risky” because of the risk of falling. 

From my experience, I was just as likely (if not more likely) to fall off a curb while walking as I was to fall during skiing, but since doctors can’t justify putting all pregnant women on permanent bed rest, they have to assume we’ll take a few “risks”!

That said, there is a lot of evidence that a fit pregnancy is a healthier and happier pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:

  • Less back pain and discomfort
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Increased stamina and strength
  • Happier moods and emotional stability

Staying active during pregnancy is a good thing — actually a great thing — for you and your baby. 

So, if skiing makes you happy and keeps you fit during the winter, and you feel your skill level is high enough that you can manage the risks, it’s your choice and your call.

As with anything in this big, beautiful world, there are factors we can’t control, such as being run into by another skier or rider, or catching an edge on the bunny hill, so common sense should prevail.

Tele when you feel good and strong and the conditions seem right. If you have any doubts, sit out a run or a day and see how you feel next time. 

In the scheme of things, 40 weeks is a really short time and you’ll have many ski days and ski seasons ahead. 

Good luck and congratulations! - The Brave Ski Mom

lee lay photographer extremely canadian backcountry ski

Lisa Richardson, 7 months pregnant during an Extremely Canadian backcountry clinic. Photographer: Lee Lau.

For more advice on skiing during pregnancy, I turned to some girlfriends. There’s simply no advice like girlfriend advice.

Alyssa’s Story (The Kid Project)

Alyssa Erickson and family

Alyssa Erickson and her family.

I skied during each of my pregnancies, from roughly three months to six months pregnant. The limiting factor for me was that at about 6 months, I no longer had ski clothing that fit. Then I switched from skiing to snowshoeing, wearing lots of fleece layers — all from my husband!

My doctor was okay with me skiing and asked me to stick to easy, comfortable terrain and away from crazy crowds. Of course, I had an appointment with a different doctor one day and she said, “Well, it isn’t like you’d do something stupid, like skiing while pregnant.”

I kept my mouth shut, smiled and nodded.

Lisa’s Story (Lisa Richardson Bylines)

lisa richardson british columbia

While Lisa Richardson thought XC skiing might be easier, she fell more on skinny skis than on alpine.

It was my first pregnancy, a surprise at that, and I had no idea what to expect of motherhood. I felt a bit like I was on death row, only happier, in that every meal was my last meal, every adventure was my last adventure, every uninterrupted conversation was my last chance to hold onto a thread of dialogue until it was resolved.

That said, I figured I had better get as much skiing in as I could.

I skied every week until I was 34 weeks pregnant. I know people who skied right up until they went into labor, women who make a living on their skis – but I was happy to call it around then.

Jessica’s Story (Bring the Kids)

Jessica Averett skiing bring the kids

Jessica Averett skiing at 27 weeks in Colorado.

I have skied during all 4 of my pregnancies. I have taken it easier and easier with each pregnancy, not necessarily because my ability or confidence level had decreased but because I had more and more little kids that I needed to ski slow with and less “me time” on the hill along with that.

Getting out and enjoying a day on the hill is great even when pregnant. Even better, it sets you up with the attitude that you can still get out and have adventures once you have kids!

Words of Wisdom

  1. Each pregnancy and each mom-to-be is different. We all have different skill levels and different circumstances. If you want to ski during pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife. Come up with a plan that makes you both comfortable.
  2. It’s all about balance, and in this case, your balance. Pregnancy changes your center of gravity and throws your balance off. Be aware of your body and how you feel.
  3. Avoid crowds. Your greatest risk may be being hit by another skier or snowboarder. Ski midweek. Ski at lunch. Ski at less crowded resorts.
  4. Dial it back. Plan to ski at about 50% of your ability. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion. Avoid bumps, breathe in the clean air and soak in the sunshine.
  5. Cold mountain air helps a lot with morning sickness. If you don’t want to downhill ski, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and get outside!

 Ready for the Next Step?

© 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.

Comments

  1. Alli says

    I also skied during my pregnancy. I had to stop around 24 weeks as I was having a hard time staying hydrated. I ended up being on bed rest by 30 weeks, so I’m glad I was able to ski as long as I did.

    • says

      That’s really interesting. Sorry you had to be on bed rest, but you’re right, at least you had memories of skiing to fall back on! Thanks so much!

  2. says

    I XC skied until 39 weeks….though the last few weeks were considerably less distances and all flat terrain. Just happy to be out there!

    • says

      Being out there is so important, whether it’s out there on xc skis, out there on a bike, out there on a walking trail or just out in fresh air relaxing! I remember right before our 2nd son was born, we spent a flying kites with our then 2 year-old. It was windy and cold, but we had so much fun. Good to be out there!

  3. says

    I also skied, and taught skiing during my pregnancy. It’s not a sport to take up while pregnant, but if you are a strong, confident skier and have good balance while pregnant ( some individuals may have balance issues while pregnant) then why not? It was exhilarating to be able to move faster than “a walk” and some fantastic fun exercise! Plus, my baby loved it, she was still while I was skiing as she liked the rocking movement but kicked like mad when I stopped or while waiting in the lift line! Plus we love to tell her that she was skiing before she was born! But I made sure that I skied gentler terrain, only skied when it was less busy and stayed in as the hill got busier in the afternoons. I skied until I was about 36 weeks!

    • says

      That’s a great story! I love that your daughter was skiing before she was born! I’m sure that will someday be inspiring to her, too! Take care and thanks again!

  4. says

    I love the advice here -simple but accurate and the women you profiled. As a pregnant mama that likes to ride my mountain bike on trails I have the same concerns. One thing I noticed on my last ride is that you have to let go of your ego. I stopped to walk my bike 3 times because my heart rate was either too high or because I was not comfortable riding over something.

    It seems to me the answer is within but the more we can profile women like the above the better it will be for future mamas. While I admire women that can still run marathons, bike like normal, ski patrol in their 3rd trimester etc…I think the majority of women would benefit from seeing a more moderate approach to staying healthy and involved in the sport they love while pregnant.

    Pregnancy is not a disease but for me it is a special time to cherish. If that means skiing, biking, running etc then great or maybe it means allowing yourself some space to relax and not try to be your ‘normal’ self.

    • says

      Pregnancy is a special time and that is one thing I loved about it: time to give your self space to relax without guilt! Yahoo! Funny, because we should always be able to do that, but it can be hard to set boundaries.

      Best wishes for the remainder of your pregnancy! BTW, I’m always getting on and off my bike…maybe we can bike together while you’re pregnant and I can keep up!