Hiking while pregnant or 7 Tips for Hiking Mamas
As I enter into the last two weeks of my first pregnancy (Yay – 38 weeks!), I really want to post about hiking while pregnant. If you were a hiker pre-pregnancy and want to continue hiking, follow these tips to make it an easier and more comfortable pregnancy experience. For all my East Coast friends, winter is still hanging around, but spring will be here before you know it and, hopefully, these tips will give all you mamas-to-be the tools to decide if hiking while pregnant is for you.
I could honestly go on forever about the joys and difficulty of hiking in various trimesters and seasons while pregnant, but for the sake of organization and readability, let’s go with a quick list of things to consider before hiking while pregnant.
All you non-preggo hikers, share this post with someone who may find it helpful!
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I can’t emphasize this one enough. As mamas-to-be we need to increase our water intake on a daily basis anyway…add strenuous activity and the need for extra H20 becomes extremely important. If carrying all that extra water-weight on your hike sounds exhausting, let someone else do the heavy lifting!
2. Bring a Hiking Buddy
I always recommend a hiking partner, pregnant or not. The need for a buddy becomes very important when you are expecting. Not only do you have someone there with you in case something goes wrong, but if it’s a super, awesome hiking friend, they will also help lighten your load. Don’t feel guilty asking a hiking partner to help carry your pack or water. Have you seen your adorable baby bump? That little boy or girl is adding some extra weight to your total body mass and if you want to drag that all up a mountain – well, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
3. Double your Snacks (or triple, no judging here)
Alright, this one may just be me, but I’ve been pretty hungry most of this pregnancy. Not only are we growing a human (which takes a lot of energy), but those intense hunger cravings in the 2nd trimester are no joke. I went from vegetarian to ‘give me that cheeseburger, now!’. Remember, if you go hiking, you are burning extra calories and babe is taking nutrients that it needs from you, so be sure to replenish with snacks that fuel your work and sound tasty.
Loosen up before your hike with some quick warm ups and light stretching. Avoid those night-time leg cramps we often get during pregnancy by hydrating and doing some good stretching after the hike. I find that it’s best to focus on the calves and hamstrings after a good mountain climb.
Let’s be honest with ourselves…it’s just not that easy to squat anymore! Center of gravity shift, extra weight (mostly in the front), and general clumsiness are something most of us experience during pregnancy. Squatting in the woods behind a bush or tree for a quick pee is getting less and less feasible as our bellies grow. Plan hikes around open facilities in our State or National parks. Or be sure there is an open gas station or rest area near the trail you choose so you have a nearby option before and after the hike.
If you get stuck out on a trail and nature calls, be sure to use a tree trunk to help you balance as you squat. Find a smaller, sturdy tree, that you can wrap your hands around for balance and support as you lower your growing body to do your business. If your hiking partner is willing to help you back up after your tinkle, let them!
Additional Tip: East Coast mountain mamas – Hike on the Appalachian Trail (white blazes) and plan your route based on sections that pass an outhouse/shelter. This will be a lifesaver for those of you in your third trimester who are using the potty often.
6. Slow your pace
Don’t over do it; it’s okay to slow your typical hiking pace. Our lungs are being squished by our growing sprouts and we need to give ourselves a break. Please don’t judge yourself or others for needing to slow down. Hike at a pace that is comfortable for you and take breaks often. The last hike I went on was only a mile, yet I slowed myself down and allowed myself to take breaks when I felt out of breath or tired. Listen to your body. If it’s tired, stop and take a break. If you need to, turn around and head home. Now is NOT the time to push yourself and over do it.
7. Shorten your hike
It’s okay to choose shorter hikes as you progress in your pregnancy. I found that in the first and third trimester, the shorter the hike, the better! Nausea won the first trimester for me, especially in the heat and humidity of Virginia summers. My hikes were short and some planned longer hikes, were cut short when I just couldn’t go any further. And that is OKAY. In the third trimester, especially as you draw nearer to your due date, I find it’s a good idea to stick to shorter trails so you can quickly and easily make it back to your car should something urgent come up. These babes decide when the want to show up, not us!
As always, be sure to check with your doctor before doing any physical activity (especially hiking). We are all different and each pregnancy is unique. Listen to your doctor and listen to your body. Don’t over do it. You and babe come first.