Sailing while pregnant

Early in my second trimester we moved on to Medina. We continued to live on Medina and take her sailing throughout my pregnancy. All the advice I had read about children living on sailing boats and going cruising was to start them early. So why not when Orbit was still in the womb? Following the learnings from other women who had sailed while pregnant, we confined to the ‘sheltered waters’ and our trips were restricted to weekends or day trips.

Sailing on Moreton Bay

Sailing on Moreton Bay

I didn’t have any big dramas being pregnant or living on Medina. Any issues I did have, I presume I would have had if we had been living in a house (e.g. swollen feet and ankles). For some issues, being on the boat helped. I didn’t get any particular food cravings, but I did have a craving to go swimming and I got to swim in some pretty fantastic locations around Moreton Bay. For the rare opportunity to get to the swimming anchorages of choice, being able to go for a swim in the beautiful clear Moreton Bay waters off Medina was like going to a luxury spa for the day (but much cheaper).

Choosing the right weather was the first step, our weather window was gradually getting narrower as the pregnancy progressed, so when we could get out on a weekend it was priceless (particularly given the Brisbane summer storms). Also having the wind in the appropriate direction was critical, so we weren’t on a lee shore.

The second step was being able to find crew (family and friends) to prevent me from jumping in and doing jobs I really should not be doing while pregnant, e.g. jumping off the boat to tie the first line when coming back into the marina or doing the heavy winching to raise the mainsail etc. Having sailed for the past 15 years, jumping in a doing what needs to be done is second nature. The Skipper was very patient and counseled me in my gradual loss of responsibility. I ended up feeling like a tourist on my own boat but also a little bit self indulgent – if only I could have had a glass of champagne.

Champagne sailing on Moreton Bay

Champagne sailing on Moreton Bay

Once we safely made it to our anchorage, the Skipper would assemble the ladders that would allow me to get in and out of the water. Thank goodness the previous owners enjoyed scuba diving. Our midships ladder is made out of stainless steel and goes about 1.5m into the water, making getting out of the water very easy. There was no need to pull myself against the water to get a foot hold with the shorter or flexible rope ladders, which are great – when your not pregnant.

After much planning and effort, primarily from other people (which I was extremely grateful for), they were entertained by my attempts to swim underwater and duck dive. If you have ever tried to swim underwater or duck dive when you’re pregnant you’ll know what I mean. If not, you basically can’t do it. Your buoyancy changes when you’re pregnant.

After my swim, I would feel so relaxed, even better when I was able to wash the salt off in a fresh water shower. Throw in lunch, fantastic company and an afternoon nap – I felt like I had been at a luxury spa.

In my final month of pregnancy, I gave in and we didn’t go sailing, neither of us wanted me to go into labor in the middle of Moreton Bay. The next sailing trip would have to wait, 10 weeks in fact. But that trip is another story.

Information from the women who had lived on a sailing boat while pregnant was crucial in my positive experience; if you’re interested, check out http://www.womenandcruising.com