There is nothing better than being outdoors surrounded by nature. Hiking is a great way to experience the outdoors and is an activity that my husband and I often partake in. When we discovered I was pregnant I assumed I would continue with this activity. Why wouldn’t I? After all exercising while pregnant is great for you and even encouraged. I took my first hike while pregnant at just shy of 17 weeks (after getting the OK from my midwife of course.)
I was told if I hiked before I was pregnant there was no reason I couldn’t continue it as long as my backpack remained under 25lbs. (I highly suggest carrying as little weight as possible). I expected there to be some new challenges when it came to hiking while pregnant but there were some things I discovered that I wasn’t expecting. I know there are other women out there who love to hike and who may happen to be pregnant as well and I wanted to share some things I personally have learned about hiking while pregnant.
ALLOW FOR MORE TIME
This is something I expected but still think it is worth mentioning. Being pregnant means you are carrying extra weight around (not counting your backpack) and you may be more tired than usual or dealing with shortness of breath. All of those things means it might take you a bit longer to reach your destination than it normally would. You will certainly need to take more breaks and you probably will be hiking at a slower pace as well (especially if hiking up hill.) Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and make sure to take breaks as often as needed. A great way to tell if you need to sit down is by monitoring your breathing. If you can’t hold a conversation while hiking, you are pushing yourself too hard and you need to stop to rest. Just realize that a hike that used to take you an hour might take you two or more now that you are pregnant. Plan accordingly.
HYDRATE. HYDRATE. HYDRATE
Everyone knows that hydration is important while hiking and staying hydrated is especially important to pregnant women on any given day. But, it is critical to keep a steady intake of water when out hiking. Dehydration is the last thing you want to deal with while pregnant and in the woods. Make sure you are drinking your water, sometimes more than you might think is necessary. Your body needs it! While hiking, I use a water bladder in my backpack and consistently drink from it. I easily went through 2 liters if not more of water during our hike. Definitely bring more water than you normally do and double the intake. I drank so much more water and found myself getting thirstier easier than I used to before I was pregnant.
I ate so much on this hiking trip! Far more than I normally would. I doubled the amount of food I brought with me and I easily went through almost all of it! Normally I don’t snack while I hike but this time I found it almost necessary. Granola bars and other bar like items were great for this! I could easily munch on one while still hiking. I admit sometimes I found myself eating two or three at one time! Being pregnant and hiking certainly upped my appetite. Snacking consistently on the trail helps to keep your energy up and you will certainly need it!
TAKE A SQUAT
Although I love hiking, the one thing I hate is needing to pee in the middle of the woods. Well ladies, if you are planning on hiking while pregnant this is something you are going to get used to and get used to it fast! I can honestly say I think I peed in the woods more times on this one trip than I have in all of the hiking trips I have gone on combined. OK maybe I am exaggerating just a bit here but in all honesty, you will find yourself behind a tree, a rock, a bush or just about anywhere more times than you can count. Be prepared. Make sure to bring plenty of toilet paper and get ready to get cozy with every big rock or tree you encounter.
PACK A HAMMOCK
If you are going to be going on a multi day hike and will be camping as well I can not suggest enough to bring a hammock! Hammock sleeping while pregnant is by far the best sleep I have had. Something about the way the fabric conforms to your body and the sway of the motion of the hammock in the wind. It is pure bliss. And after hours of hiking the one thing I wanted more than anything was to prop my feet up and nod away. Sleeping in a hammock while pregnant is something I can not recommend enough. Walk, no run, to your local camping store and snag yourself one or better yet grab one from Amazon with just a click of a button. You will not regret it.
SOME THINGS I WAS NOT EXPECTING
I’ll admit there were some things I was not expecting. I read a couple blogs that talked about hiking while pregnant and some of the things they mentioned I quickly pushed aside. At the time, they seemed silly to me and surely not something that I needed to worry about so early in my pregnancy. But, I am hear to tell you, they were right.
- You WILL feel off balance and you WILL notice yourself stumbling over rocky terrain. Your center of gravity is all wonky. Hiking poles are a great idea to help steady yourself. Get some!
- You WILL be sore for days after your hike. Yes, normally I had some soreness the day following a good hike but nothing compared to what I felt after a 2 day hike while pregnant. My feet were screaming! My shoulders and back ached like never before. I felt like I had just completed the toughest work out of my life. Literally every muscle in my body was on fire. This lasted 4 days!
- You WILL need to change your mileage, routes, and terrain. Just because you could hike 10 miles in 1 day over rocky terrain up and over a mountain before you were pregnant doesn’t mean that is something you can do while pregnant. Not to say it isn’t possible, it definitely is, but for most of us, you will probably have to make some adjustments. I knew I would probably hike at a slower pace and might not be able to hike as far each day but I had no idea what the actual difference may be. I quickly learned that I should have started off on a shorter hike, a less rocky terrain, and something that wasn’t quite as challenging. Start off with less mileage and add to it. Don’t start off on 10 mile hikes, work your back up to it. Stick to more even or smooth terrain and hikes that are less of an incline.
Although hiking is a bit more challenging now that you are pregnant it is still complete doable and something I have no intention of giving up any time soon. I plan on hiking for as long as I am physically able to. With just some preparation and minor tweaks if you were hiking before you became pregnant it can still be something you enjoy throughout your pregnancy as well. Plus, I think it is really cool to think that our baby boy has already been on his first hiking trip and has already been to some pretty cool locations! All before he ever makes his actual appearance.
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