You’re ready to hit the trail
You can’t put everything on hold once you find out you’re pregnant. You’d be surprised at how far you can actually push your body. Obviously you don’t want to go on a 2 week trek 8 months into your pregnancy, but a short weekend trip 6 months in won’t kill you.
If you have a love for the outdoors, don’t let being pregnant keep you from doing the things you love. Here’s everything you need to keep in mind before planning that late term hike.
Hiking is Amazing For Pregnant Women
Did you know fat gain during pregnancy is linked
Studies suggest hiking helps improve your mood and help regulate your hormones. Considering how most of us feel during pregnancy these are much needed benefits. Before you head out for the trail remember you’re hiking for two and need to take a few special precautions.
Ask Your Doctor Before Heading Out
I’m not a medical doctor so take my word for what it is. First things first you need to go have a quick chat with you OB-GYN. He’ll be able to tell you if hiking is safe for both you and your baby.
If you’re young and health with a uncomplicated pregnancy you should be good to go. As long as you avoid extreme elevations and difficult terrain you should be fine. Beginners that have never hiked before may want to start off with short 1-2 hour hikes. Don’t dive in head first before you’ve learned how to swim.
How Much Weight Should You Carry?
When your at the doctors office make sure you ask him how much weight you can safely carry on your back? My doctor said 20lbs would be fine, but I’m used to carrying around heavy loads.
If you normally carry a 40 lb pack your friends will have to pick up your slack. What kind of friends are they if they won’t help out a pregnant lady? You can even repay them by naming your kid after them(what a horrible idea).
Don’t Hike Difficult Terrain
Remember that you aren’t just going to be carrying around your pack. You could be carrying an extra 20 or 30 pounds of baby weight. Just think about how that monster baby bump is going to throw off your center of gravity.
Throw on a big pack and that’s a recipe for lower back pain and unexpected falls. Plan hikes that aren’t going to put you through difficult terrain. Long distance is fine. Just skip that scramble over slippery rocks that you can barely handle without being pregnant.
13 Tips For Hiking While Pregnant
After you’ve gotten the go ahead it’s time to plan your trip. Before heading out on the trail here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
1) Avoid High Elevations
Hiking at high altitudes was challenging even before I got pregnant. I don’t know how it would be possible to handle those inclines with my baby bump.
All that extra strain hiking up hill and worrying about altitude sickness just isn’t worth the hassle. A little bit of incline is fine, but you’re bodies already working overtime don’t force it to acclimate to less oxygen.
2) Little Adjustments to Your Gear
When you really start showing maybe 6-7 months into your pregnancy don’t even think about fastening your hip belt. It’s just not going to happen. You’ll be uncomfortable the whole time and it will dig into your belly.
With a lightweight 20-30lb pack this shouldn’t be much of a problem. Just let your pack’s weight hang loosely off your shoulders. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to convince someone to give you a back rub at the end of the day.
Before traversing up a long incline take a quick break to loosen up your shoulder straps a bit. This should help shift the weight to reduce back pain going uphill. Just remember to tighten them back up once you get to even ground.
3) Always Use Trekking Poles
Throughout my entire
Stubborn as I am they got strapped to my pack and ignored the first half of the day. After moaning and groaning all morning I finally gave them a try. It was like I had four legs. No more balance problems and it was so much easier to charge through difficult terrain.
4) Buy a Thick Sleeping Pad
When setting up camp try to find a nice level spot with little to no rocks. Nobody likes sleeping on uneven terrain. Those thin sleeping pads just aren’t going to cut it.
Unless you like rocking and rolling in your sleep all night you’ll need to invest in a nice cushy pad to sleep on. I went with the Therm-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite sleeping pad and I absolutely love it. Actually bought it for ultralight camping since it only weighs 12 ounces.
5) Get a New Pair of Hiking Boots
A week before my planned trip I decided to double check all my gear. It’s a good thing I did. My feet looked like swollen sausages and I couldn’t fit in my boots. I like my boots tight, but I could barely squeeze my feet in.
If there’s one time in life to spend the extra money and buy a nice pair of hiking boots its now. Try to find a pair with a lot of ankle support. After sizing up a half size I was ready to get on with my hike(These are my new favorite boots).
6) Bring The Right Hiking Partner
You have to set a few ground rules before hitting the trail. Find a hiking partner that isn’t going to rush you. They have to be cool with taking a lot of breaks.
Nobody likes being pushed past their limits. Bring a partner that’s willing to slow down a bit and be supportive when you’re feeling tired. Who really cares if it takes an hour longer to get to camp. All that really matters is that you’re having fun and not sitting behind your desk at work.
7) Have an Emergency Plan
It doesn’t matter if you’re 7 months pregnant or not you should always have an emergency bailout plan. Make sure you always know the fastest way out of the woods and location of the nearest hospital.
If you’re in an unfamiliar town I would probably stop by the closest hospital before heading out on the trail. You don’t want to be scrambling with a GPS with a baby on the way.
8) Don’t Go Anywhere Without a Cell Phone
Nowadays you should have your cell phone on you at all times. Unless you’re going deep into the woods you shouldn’t have to worry about cell coverage. You should have coverage throughout most of the country.
When hiking during your third trimester you need to be able to get a hold of a doctor if necessary. Always have a hiking buddy and if your signal drops it’s time to start heading back.
9) You’ll Have to Pee a Lot
Before heading off on the trail
Get ready to pee in the forest more than you ever have in your life. When your babies leaned up against your bladder you won’t be able to make it to the nearest comfort station.
I don’t WonderWoman could squat to pee with a baby in her stomach. Get yourself a silicone pee funnel so you can go standing up. Using it for the first time feels a little funny so you might want to get in a little practice at home.
10) Eat and Drink More Than You Think You Need
Pregnant or not you should be eating and drinking throughout the hike. Bring along some salty snacks to tide you over and make sure you pack a healthy lunch.
Think about both quantity and quality. Don’t just scarf down junk food, bring along fruits and veggies to give you a little energy boost.
Make sure you’re constantly drinking throughout the day. Doctors recommend that you should drink 1 liter of water every 2 hours, but I would drink even more. Fill up your hydration bladder (this is the one I use) and drink constantly. By the time you actually feel
Make sure you only drink filtered or bottled water. Don’t purify your water with iodine tablets. Your body needs iodine to survive, but it’s hard to regulate the correct intake.
11) Take Lots Of Breaks and Slow Down Your Pace
Take more breaks than you think you could possibly need. You can take a break every 10 minutes if that’s what you need. Don’t ignore those little aches and pains that you would normally push through.
Hearts racing a little bit stop and drink some water. Your a little short of breath slow down your pace. Enjoy the outdoors, don’t always be in a rush to get somewhere.
You can’t expect to hike as fast or far as you did before your pregnancy. Don’t push yourself to the limit. Remember that pushing yourself harder increases the risk of accidents.
12) You’ll Be Sensitive to The Sun
I don’t know what it is about being pregnant, but I was always getting burned. Must have been my hormones, but my skin was so sensitive.
If you’re like me stick to tree-covered trails where you can stay cool and use some SPF 30 sunscreen.
13) Know Your Limits
Some women can hike late into their pregnancy while others can’t. You don’t have to push yourself in your third trimester. Sometimes your body will just require a little more rest.
Some days you might be able to hike 5 miles others you can barely walk down to the mail box. Don’t be afraid to change up your pace and duration later in the pregnancy.
Just remember to listen to your body. If you start to feel dizzy and lightheaded it’s time to take a break. Might be time to wait until after your pregnancy to hike.
Make sure you tell me what you think in the comment section below. You can also check out my article on hiking with a baby.