Pregnancy: it’s one of the most important times in a woman’s life as she awaits and prepares for her new bundle of joy to arrive. As her body changes, so too does her routine. Activities are modified, safety precautions arise, and everyday tasks slowly become more difficult. Avid hikers may fear hiking while pregnant to be problematic for their body and unborn child.
While additional safety measures should be put in place, pregnant hikers can rejoice knowing that taking a hike is not out of the question. These 10 tips will help ensure you or your wife, successfully and safely complete a hike while pregnant.
1. Consult Your Doctor
Your doctor, first and foremost, is your primary source for all things related to your health. They know you and your health history better than anyone. During your next appointment, ask him/her if there are any limitations or factors you should consider for your next hike. You should also ask them how much weigh you can safely carry on your back. This may vary depending on how far you are into your pregnancy, so it is best to continuously check in with your doctor during your pregnancy.
2. Bring Plenty of Water
Water is not something to skimp on while hiking pregnant. Bring more than you think you need to ensure you stay hydrated. A good rule of them is to drink about 1 pint of water every hour at a minimum. Drinks with electrolytes are also good to have on hand. Electrolytes will also help you feel better while hiking, especially if you begin to feel nauseous or ill.
3. Use Trekking Poles
A good, sturdy set of trekking poles can make all the difference for pregnant hikers. With a constantly growing belly, it’s no wonder your balance may be more off than usual. To ensure you don’t accidentally slip or trip, bring a set of trekking poles for better balance.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
While staying active during your pregnancy is important, getting plenty of rest is equally important. Before and after you hike, make sure you reward your body with a good night of sleep. You’ll find this will be easier to accomplish post-hike.
5. Keep Up with Your Fitness
It may be more tiring and difficult to keep your usual fitness routine while pregnant. You may feel more sluggish than normal, making it increasingly more difficult to muster up the energy for a workout. Staying active, even when you’re not on the trail, is important for your health and happiness. Even if this means working out at home with the help of a prenatal workout video, some exercise is better than none. And you’ll build your stamina for hitting the trails.
6. Factor in Altitude
There hasn’t been much research conducted on the affects of altitude on pregnant women and their unborn child, however it is safe to say tackling a tall peak should be avoided when pregnant. Blood-oxygen saturation is best maintained up to an altitude of 10,000 feet. To stay on the safe side, pick peaks under 10,000 feet.
7. Lower Your Expectations
When you weren’t pregnant, maybe tackling a 10-mile hike was a breeze. Now that you’re carrying a little extra weight, it’s important to know when to slow down. As your stomach grows, slowly taper down your mileage and seek out hikes that are less difficult. It”s easy to push yourself to your limits, but the pain and exhaustion felt afterwards generally won’t be worth it.
8. Bring/Eat Protein-packed Snacks
A new nuance you’ll quickly become accustomed to during pregnancy is an increase in your appetite. You will need to accommodate your hunger while hiking, which means protein-packed snacks are a must. Some of my go-to snacks are protein bars (specifically Quest brand), an assortment of nuts/berries, fruit (apples or bananas), and beef jerkey. Keeping your stomach full will help regulate your blood sugar and give you more energy throughout your hike.
9. Dress in Layers
You’ll find that you may get warmer than usual the later you are in your pregnancy. To prepare for this, dress in layers that are easy to strip off while hiking. If you begin to feel dizzy from overheating, first drink your water, eat a little bit of your food, and lastly, strip off a layer of clothing.
10. Locate the Nearest Hospital
While the chances of going into labor during a hike will likely be slim, it is still worthwhile to locate the nearest hospital. Find the closest hospital to your hike and know exactly how to get there if need be. That being said, you should also hike with a reliable friend/family member who can safely transport you to the hospital.
Have any tips you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!