Those new to jet skiing, or planning on taking a jet ski ride on vacation should be fully aware of the inherent dangers you could place yourself at risk of. This is particularly true for those that are pregnant. You should be justifiably concerned about the risks to your unborn baby.
In this guide, I will quickly go over the dangers of jet skiing when pregnant, if it’s safe at slow speeds, and what medical professionals will advise you about participating in this water sport.
Can you jet ski when pregnant?
Can you drive a jet ski when pregnant? Yes, you can drive a jet ski when pregnant, but health professionals advise against it, plus many rental operators will refuse you based on insurance limitations. You are at risk of miscarriage or premature labor due to the bumps and jumps that occur in jet skiing.
I have a friend who is a doctor, so wanted a more professional opinion on jet skiing and pregnancy. She has over 25 years of experience and said this to me over email.
“I would certainly consult with your own OB (obstetrician-gynaecologist) for their opinion as they know you and your pregnancy better than I do. However, if you were my patient, I would say to them to not jet ski when pregnant. Jet skiing can bounce and jostle the uterus and in serious cases that could cause premature labor, or even a miscarriage. Wait until you’ve recovered after the birth!”
Is jet skiing safe when pregnant?
I also looked on various mother and baby forums to see what expectant mums have said about jet skiing when pregnant.
There was a lot of mixed information. Some women said you should never jet ski when pregnant, or any form of PWC (personal water craft), and others said that they had safely done so and saw no problem with it.
The mothers that had ridden a jet ski during pregnancy had a common theme with their comments. The condensed version of these opinions was that if you are super careful and take things and slowly with the speed down to no more than 30 miles per hour, then there’s no reason why you can’t.
Handy Hint: If you are new to jet skiing or planning on trying it on a holiday then you will need to be prepared with the right gear and clothing. To help you out we wrote this guide on what to wear when jet skiing.
However, just like driving a car, you can be as safe as driver as possible, but you will never have control over the other people on the road. It’s the same with jet skiing and water sports. You just don’t know how careful other water users will be and you could end up in accident despite your own precautions.
So, why do so many people say you should not jet ski when pregnant? Here’s an overview of what the possible dangers might be.
Dangers of stopping and crashes
Personal watercraft (PWCs) and jet skis don’t have brakes. They cannot be brought suddenly to a stop. Instead you have to bring the power down and then let the jet ski coast to a stop. During the slow down and stop you cannot move or turn the direction.
In fact, in 1998 the US National Transportation Safety Board (visit website) were highly critical of jet skis, releasing this statement:
“What makes personal watercraft so ultra-dangerous is the fact that it will not steer when you suddenly have a surprise and let off the throttle. Unlike traditional boats jet skis are rudderless. And when the throttle is off, a speeding jet ski is like a car on ice. It can’t stop. It can’t turn, and the driver has no control.”
That means no matter how experienced you are, and regardless of whether you are pregnant or not, it can be very hard to avoid collisions.
And as you already know, any form of collision or impact can be very harmful to an unborn baby in the womb.
Dangers of bumps and falls
Whilst collisions and not being able to stop is probably the least of the risks when pregnant and jet skiing, bumps and falls are far more common.
Even at slow speeds, you will get bumped about as jet skis connect with the water at high impact, smacking over waves and wakes. As well as this up and down motion, there’s also the risk of being thrown forward onto your baby bump.
If you’ve ever watched people jet skiing, there’s every chance you seen them come off and fall into the water. It happens to even the most experienced of riders.
High impact contact with water can result in serious complications to a pregnancy including fetal complications.
Dangers of dehydration and heat stroke
Jet skiing is best done on a hot summer’s day. But aside from the risks to pregnancy relating to falls and bumps, the sun can lead to dehydration and heat stroke.
You might feel tired and simply put it down to being pregnant. It sounds like a normal pregnancy doesn’t it, especially when you throw in the other symptoms such as feeling dizzy, nauseous, and cramps.
Heat exhaustion is very dangerous during pregnancy as it can lead to dehydration and heat stroke. The effect of heat stroke includes brain, heart, kidney, and muscle damage. This can result in babies being born with fetal growth syndrome and cleft palates.
If you do feel like you’ve have got too hot when jet skiing, make sure you get out of the sun immediately and regulate your body temperature with plenty of water.
Water in the vagina
I have no anecdotal evidence that this has ever happened, but it did come up on a web forum when a woman asked whether you can drive a jet ski when pregnant.
Somebody replied saying that it’s possible to have water force up into the vagina if you land awkwardly at high speed.
According to the forum post, this can lead to water in the blood stream and infections which could damage the health of your baby.
For full disclosure though; I was unable to find any recorded instances on the Internet of this happening.
Health conditions not recommended for jet skiers
If you are pregnant and have any of the following health conditions it’s recommended that you do not ride a jet ski or take part in any other water sports.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Liver diseases
- Problems with the renal system
- Low insertion of the placenta
- Severe anaemia
- Hypertonia of the uterus
- Inflammatory as well as purulent procedures
- Gestational toxicosis
- Blood system diseases
Common jet ski injuries
No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Here’s a list of the most common injuries suffered by jet skiers.
- Concussion and head injuries
- Crushed limbs
- Broken wrists
- Whip lash
It doesn’t even bear thinking about how this could impact on you and your unborn baby should the worst happen.
The most common reasons that jet ski accidents occur are as follows:
- Children driving
- Racing, reckless driving, and speeding
- Loss of control
- Lack of information, training, knowledge, and experience
How to keep safe when jet skiing during pregnancy
For most pregnant women, there’s no harm in spending a day out on the water.
But if you do decide to go against the general consensus of avoiding jet skis due to the safety risks, there are some things you can do to make it less dangerous.
- Always wear a life jacket (see which I recommend for jet skiing).
- Do not ride at high speeds (see what the top speeds of jet skis are)
- Do not ride in highly congested areas of the water with other boats and swimmers.
- Do not ride when the weather is bad, and the waves are rough.
- Don’t ride in deep water if you are not a strong swimmer.
- Always have a riding partner with you.
- Wear strong sunscreen and re-apply every hour.
- Do not ride a jet ski if you have had morning sickness that day.
Need Jet Ski Gear? See what gear Outdoorasaurus recommends for jet skiers including safety equipment and accessories to enhance your ride.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop everything that you enjoy doing. Some mothers don’t make any adjustments to their lifestyle at all and have perfectly healthy pregnancies.
However, I believe that the risks of jet skiing whilst pregnant far outweigh the pleasure you will have, and it’s simply not worth the risk. I would not recommend that you drive or rent a jet ski during pregnancy.
Whilst it might appear safe to do so, you should always consult with your doctor if you are unsure whether it’s safe to jet ski when pregnant.
I am sure that almost every single medical professional you talk with will advise you not to do it, no matter how safe you think you will drive the PWC.
The bumps, smacks, falls, and vibrations simply don’t stack up positively.