Hike on, Mama! It’s Good for the Baby on Board

    Today I welcome a fellow outdoor blogger to this space to share about hiking while pregnant.  I believe in what she says whole-heartedly and am happy to share.  Our daily hikes right now look a lot like finding as many hills as possible pushing 80 pounds of kids + stroller, but the refreshing simplicity of dirt trails in the woods calls my name more than anything else.  Please feel free to join in the discussion below – we want to hear your unique story!  Plus, as always, make sure to read all the way to the end to find Amy on her blog (it’s a great one!)

    “Guess you won’t be hiking as much anymore now that you’re pregnant…” How many times did I hear that when we first told people that Little Man E was on the way? Since my husband and I first got together, hiking, camping and general outdoorsiness had been a staple of our relationship, but now that there was a baby on board, that had to change?

    Fortunately, that answer was NO. But it took a little while to know that was the right answer for us. Innately, getting out on the trails, breathing deep and stretching my legs seemed like the most natural and healthy thing that I could continue to do as this baby grew in my belly. But there was that nagging part of my brain… that omnipresent cloud that second guessed every little thing. What if I exert myself too much? What if I trip? What if I fall? What if we hike too far? What if I get too hot – will the baby overheat? What if a tick bites me? You name it, I worried about it.

    So for my sanity and the health of my weeks old little embryo, I started researching – surely on the great big Internet there would be lots of information about other women who camped and hiked throughout their pregnancy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much.

    Thankfully, around week 8 I had my first appointment with my midwife where I could finally broach the subject with an expert. To my great relief, she was thrilled to hear that we were hikers and fully endorsed hiking throughout the pregnancy. She even gave two big thumbs up to a Rocky Mountain hiking and camping vacation that would fall around week 16 in my pregnancy.

    Amy hiking 16 Weeks Pregnant

    Amy hiking 16 Weeks Pregnant

    Armed with this support from my healthcare provider and my new favorite mantra, “Pregnancy is not an illness,” I happily laced up my hiking shoes, grabbed my CamelBak and hit the trails. While I got the green light to keep trekking, we did learn that hiking during pregnancy does require some special considerations. And yes, it was a “we” discovery – my husband was an amazing support:

    Disclaimer: Every pregnancy is different for every woman. ALWAYS listen to your health care provider and follow her recommendations. This is simply what worked for me.

    1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. My midwife recommended drinking 80 – 100 oz. of water every day and increasing that intake on days that we hiked. Yes, this meant a LOT of bathroom breaks, but this hydration was key for me to maintain good energy, avoiding a racing heart rate in the middle of the night after a long day’s hike (that happened once!) and staving off muscle cramps. My husband even started packing his portable water filter to make sure we’d always be able to have a clean water source if I ran out of water in my pack – even on short hikes.
    2. Snack Often, Snack Healthy. Crazy blood sugar drops were a hallmark of my early pregnancy. I’d be fine one minute, then the next I was a hiking zombie. Eventually I learned to nibble on a granola bar or grab a handful of trail mix the first moment I felt the rumble of hunger. This helped keep my revved up metabolism in check.
    3. Exercise at Home. Staying active even when not outdoors made a huge, positive impact on my pregnancy. I fell in love with two prenatal workout videos (Summer Sanders Pregnancy Workout and Pilates During Pregnancy). The point of these workouts was to prepare my body for pregnancy and labor, but the added benefit was that I was stronger and had better stamina on the trail.
    4. Trekking Poles Are Your Friend. Around 20 weeks is when I really started getting concerned about trips and falls. To keep my balance, I slowed down in places where the footing seemed iffy and later in the pregnancy my husband surprised me with a of pair trekking poles. If I could do one thing differently, I would have started using trekking poles early in my second trimester. They helped reduce the impact of round ligament pain and helped minimize my fear of slips, trips and falls. A friend who hiked during her pregnancy also found a pregnancy support belt to be a great help, too.
    5. Challenge Yourself, But Listen to Your Body. I summited my first two mountains during my second trimester – one in the Smokeys and the other a 14’er in the Colorado Rockies. I was proud to be able to take on these challenges with a bun in the oven; however, I always listened to my body and slowed down if anything ever seemed “off.” On more than one hike, we turned around and headed home early – I was proud that I got on the trail but never regretted the change in plans if I didn’t feel right.
    6. Get Some Rest & Take It Easy. I was intentionally very active during my first two trimesters, but that activity was followed up by a whole lot of resting! I’m pretty sure I conked out for a good long nap on every car ride home. And as my belly grew, we exchanged long hikes with challenging climbs for shorter distances, flat lands and a much slower pace.
    Amy hiking at 23 Weeks Pregnant

    Amy hiking at 23 Weeks Pregnant

    I took my last pregnancy hike during week 39. We didn’t go very far and we certainly didn’t go very fast, but that hike energized my spirits in ways I never expected. That quiet afternoon in the woods was an unexpected respite from the anxiety and excitement that had been building for nine months. Four days later, Little Man E arrived and my world has never been the same.

    Amy hiking at 39 Weeks Pregnant

    Amy hiking at 39 Weeks Pregnant

    What about you? How were you able to maintain an outdoorsy lifestyle while pregnant?

     

    Amy Packer is a mama, wife, blogger, nature enthusiast and Pinterest-lover from Nashville, Tennessee. When she’s not chasing after her young son, she’s likely hiking with her husband in the Tennessee hills, trying out pins or curating their blogs: Marking My Territory, an outdoor lifestyle and camping recipe blog where you can read her series of blog post about hiking while pregnant during each trimester, and Pinterest In Real Life, a blog detailing her (mis)adventures spawned from Pinterest inspiration.

    © 2013, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

      Comments

      1. LOVE this post! I ran and hiked through both of my pregnancies. One of my favorite pregnancy photos is from a hike. I’m holding my daughter’s hand as we hike up a hill with my basketball belly leading the way! Love your tips for staying active throughout pregnancy, especially to listen to your body and rest when you need it.

        • Thanks, Nicole! Yeah, one of my proudest moments was during our Colorado Hiking Vacation when I was 16 weeks pregnant and able to confidently scurry up the side of a waterfall (I was super cautious & it wasn’t that steep!) when other folks (men & women) were turning around because they weren’t used to the terrain. And aside from the physical aspect it helped my mental health SO much!

        • That rest part – can be the HARDEST! 🙂

      2. I’m so happy to read your guest blog here, my friend! I love your mantra – pregnancy is not an illness.

      3. I loved hiking while pregnant! And skiing, and canoeing, and hunting, and fishing, and…. I did lots of day hikes while pregnant, plus two backpacking trips. The first trip gave us the name of our first daughter–Juniper. The second trip (I was 7 months preggo or so), my husband carried most of my stuff : ) Good times. Wish I could hike that far now! No, I take that back because I know in a blink both my kids will be running miles down the trails : )

        • Nice work backpacking! That is awesome!! 🙂 And yes, um, I am sure the kids will be beating us all in the next couple of years (and this will all be a distant nostalgic memory! ;))

      4. Thank God for wonderful midwives and telling us we are not sick just pregnant!! Great post and I didn’t hike while pregnant but I did ride horses and did a lot of walking.

      5. Love this article. As a trail runner, I loved getting out and running the trails during the first half of my pregnancy. Now that I’m entering my third trimester, hiking those same trails has taken over and has made such a huge impact for my sanity and overall health. Although prenatal yoga has been awesome, it’s indoors. I love getting to be outside amoung the trees and mountains. I’m definitely slowing down, and generally have to plan for a nap after a workout, but when I listen to my body and just focus on moving at whatever pace my body needs that day, it’s invigorating.

        My only issue hiking came when I was at high elevation around 23 weeks… the 11,000′ brought on more Braxton-Hicks contractions and made for a pretty uncomfortable hike (with lots of stopping and resting). Luckily I was able to rest a ton at a lower elevation, but it’s definitely something to pay attention to. Happy hiking! 🙂

        • Amy – that’s awesome! And yes, staying sane is HUGE when pregnant (and for me too it means outdoor time!) Thanks so much for your insight – when is Baby due again?

      6. Wow! You hiked up until just about the last bit! Because of the severe snowfall we had in Toronto this past winter, I slowed down quite a bit. Slipping on the ice (it happened once … yikes!) is not fun. I hiked regularly on flatter local trails during my third trimester, though. That kept me … what’s that word again … sane. http://hikingbootsbigandsmall.wordpress.com

      7. Such an amazing story!! I’m going hiking today and 18 weeks pregnant…. I found your story so inspirational! I “Shared” this story and your Blog to my Between Moms page on Facebook and our “Need To Know” board on Pinterest!

      8. My husband and I are backpacking/camping in Alaska (around Denali first, then up into the arctic circle) this summer when I will be around 23 weeks, it’s our first. Where did you find hiking pants/clothes that fit and were appropriate for your trip? I’m having so much trouble trying to plan and collect everything I’ll need since I have really no idea what size I’ll be then.

      9. hi there.
        my only question is- is the pressure of the backpack belt over the pelvis/belly ok?
        i did a 27 mi backpack this weekend- i’m 14 weeks and felt good- my legs are just sore now!
        thanks!

      10. Cynthia Corsi says:

        Great post!! Thanks for sharing. I too am an avid hiker mainly due to our dog who keeps us active even before pregnancy. I’ve hiked throughout my pregnancy and am now 35wks and still going strong. Just last week we went hiking in Yosemite. Boy did I get a lot of praise and “you go girl’…lol My feet are just now starting to swell and my tennis shoes are not fitting so great but that’s not stopping me/us from going on short hikes. It keeps us active and from what I hear it will definitely help with labor. I’m so glad that I had a chance to read your blog. 🙂

      11. Tiffany says:

        Love your blog. Just in my first trimester and headed out backpacking!

      12. My wife wants to hike and climb Half Dome at Yosemite when she’s around 14 weeks pregnant. http://www.everytrail.com/guide/half-dome-hike
        What’s your advice?

        • Hi Sandi,

          I am certainly not a doctor by any means, but physically if she is up for it, I would say go for it. Stay very hydrated and be aware of your body – fatigue comes easy in pregnancy! But, please do ask her doctor. 🙂

          Good luck!

          Amelia

        • Samantha says:

          I’ll be 13 weeks and will be planning a backpacking trip from Tolumne Meadows to LIttle Yosemite Valley. How did your hike go?

      13. Saw your post and am really encouraged by what you wrote! I am from Singapore. Being an asian, I have heard so many advices that expecting mothers should refrain from too much outdoor exercises. I love outdoors and it’s driving me insane. My husband and I are in Korea and we just hiked a trail. We don’t hike much but knowing that there are so many others who hiked during their pregnancies is really encouraging! 😀

      14. Thank you for this post! I live in Alaska and I love to be outdoors. I am planning a girls backpacking weekend with some friends. I was starting to feel really apprehensive about the trip and was starting to worry a lot. This put my mind a little more at easy. We are doing a 26 mile, 2 day trip over a mountain pass. It’s about 2,100 ft elevation gain, however, one of my biggest concerns is fording a glacial river (will it be too cold?). I’ve been doing some shorter day hikes and make sure to keep hydrated and to eat well and so far no problems. But I keep thinking with this trip, “Am I over doing it?” I did this hike before I was pregnant in one day and thought nothing of it. I will be at about 12 weeks when we do the hike.

        • Hi Dani,

          Are you doing Crow Pass? Definitely ask your doctor, but I am pretty confident he/she would tell you to go for it as long as you feel well enough! Everyone is different in pregnancy. Personally those first 15 weeks or so I am so exhausted I can hardly do anything. But, I did do a 77 mile bike ride in 90 degrees this time around….
          SOOO….basically in my (non-medical) opinion, I think you’d be good to go. Just listen to your body and yes, drink a ton of water and plan on it taking longer than it would have if you were not pregnant 🙂

          Let me know where you are hiking – I’m curious! 🙂 Grew up in the Mat-Su valley and am missing it desperately this summer 🙂 Minus the mosquitos….

          =) Amelia

      15. Mountain Dad says:

        We live in CO at 7200 feet and are looking for information about hiking 14rs when pregnant, especially in the first trimester, now. We can’t find any solid information out there. Everything says either “bla bla not recommended but we don’t have any real proof that it’s bad” or “you go girl….but we have only limited empirical evidence from my friend and I.” Even with Doctors and widwives you will get wildly varying answers depending on the person. And god forbid you post something about it in an online forum; you will be torn apart by bon-bon eating couch-wives.

        I want to keep my wife and my family active but I want to know more about safety concerns if there are any. Doing this kind of activity is not new to her, I just want more information. I like to believe that strong active Moms make strong, active babies, but I don’t want to worry about lack of oxygen. Have you come across any strong evidence either way?

        Thanks for the inspiring site btw, it’s nice to know we aren’t the only active parents out there who want to stay active and do it safely.

        • Hi Sean – great question. I am no doctor and really can’t tell you much different. The biggest issue is that EVERY woman is different. I lived at 7500 feet and climbed to 10,000 when I was pregnant with my boys, but I certainly couldn’t do that after the first trimester or I was short of breath (but that was just me personally.)

          I have not come across hard evidence, but I think the best thing is to take it easy as you move forward, have her drink a ton of water, be prepared to move slow and turn back at any sign of not enough oxygen. If she’s feeling great, I’d go for it. But, understand that you’re just ready for “Plan B” should you need to take it.

          Sorry I don’t have more to offer – I bet in 20 years they’ll all be laughing at us now! 🙂

          Good luck and congrats!!
          =) Amelia

      16. Thank you for this post!
        I’ve been kind of hesitant about doing a one night hike/camping trip. I’m 12 weeks pregnant with my first child and read somewhere that you should avoid high altitudes if it’s your first pregnancy. I’ve hiked to the camp spot a few times and always felt fine. I’m worried now that I’m pregnant. I’m pretty active but haven’t been up in the mountains for a while. Good idea to still go? Also, cold weather has been a concern…

        • Hi Alex – I am no doctor, but as long as you are feeling well at 12 weeks, I think you’ll be good! But, I would always check with your doctor and really listen to your body – every person is different!

      17. I know it may sound really dumb but im worried to go hiking while pregnant. Before I was pregnant I would go hiking all the time on long hour hikes away from civilization deep into the mountains or desert. But now im scared because now that im pregnant i know my body is releasing all these hormones and I feel like a bear, coyote, or snake can smell them miles away and try to attack me and baby. Am I just crazy and being over dramatic? I really do want to go hiking while pregnant, but dont want to be attacked by a wild animal.

        • Marlene – not dumb at all – and I am pretty sure all pregnant women deal with some excessive worries 🙂 As long as you are FEELING well, you’re good to go (with your doctor’s approval, of course!) I am pretty sure the animals will leave you alone 🙂
          Enjoy it!!
          =) Amelia

      18. So good to see another mama not afraid of hiking while 39 weeks pregnant! I was the same way and was told the same things: ‘now that you’re pregnant, good luck hiking like before’. Little did they know how wrong were they and how I’d be hiking up mountains until my last week of my pregnancy! I didn’t have a midwife and my ob gyn didn’t have much to say about pregnancy and hiking but I listened to my body because being in tune with your body means you know when to go, when to stop and rest, when to snack, when to pee etc 🙂
        After the baby was born (a healthy and big baby boy) we started hiking with him 3-weeks postpartum and never stopped since then. 21 months later we’ve hiked over 400 miles of trails together and I have a feeling I’m raising an adventurer! 😉

      19. Great article! I live in Arizona and there are so many places to hike out here. I am 27 weeks and I feel great! I hope I can keep hiking through the rest of my pregnancy.

      20. I’m 29 weeks and still hiking Irish mountains, 10-15 km each time. I go once every week or two and I really enjoy it 🙂

      21. What about carrying a heavy pack? I’m not pregnant but am sort of thinking about starting to try but I’m keen to book in some leave for a hiking trip in six months – I’m pretty confident that even if I was expecting I’d still be keen to go (and fit enough to) but if I was, say, four months pregnant, do you think it’s be ok to carry a camping pack (8-12 kilos?). I’m mostly thinking about the waistband squashing my tummy…

        • I’ll let others weigh in, but I think sometimes you forget what pregnancy is REALLY like until you are in the middle of it again 🙂 When I was 4 months with my 4th baby, I was NOT comfortable carrying a heavier pack. However, I would have with my 1st. So, depends on the person totally….Wish it were more black and white, but pregnancy is SO grey area. :/ It’s all about paying attention to your body, staying healthy and going with it!!

      22. I usually keep hiking early in pregnancy, but have to stop anything long or rigorous after a few months. I’m 32 weeks with baby #4, and with all c-sections, I’m definitely limited. My favorite is summer babies, though, because I love swimming and being at the beach late in pregnancy!

      23. I went kayaking the day I was due. I stayed pretty active all through my pregnancy, and I figured either we were going to get the kayaks and gear all loaded up and I would go into labor (Murphy’s Law, you know) or I would have a great time kayaking and not be thinking about when I would be having that baby!

      24. Hey! How do you feel about water filtration while pregnant? I have no problem drinking filtered water from the creek/river when not pregnant, but is there extra filtering you should do when pregnant, or what? Thanks!

        • Great question – I really don’t have a great answer. I would do it if it is filtered!! But that’s just me 🙂

        • I didn’t ask about filtering while pregnant, but I did ask about filtering water for my son when mixing his formula, and I was told that if it’s ok for my husband and I, then it would be ok for him, so I think the same would apply. (Obviously asking your dr. Would be best)

      25. Thanks so much for posting this! I was on an overnight hike this weekend at 14 weeks and instead of 2 nights, we cut it down to 1 because I was feeling a little *off*. My husband was really supportive and on the drive home we agreed to stop the back country camping, and do only day hikes for the remainder of my pregnancy- but the feedback we got from family and friends was so discouraging when they heard we had to turn back! I was beginning to feel guilty, even though I feel fabulous after that little walk through the woods!

        • Good for you for listening to your body! I think that is the hardest thing…because we Mamas think we are invincible sometimes. And, yes, a walk in the woods does wonder for the soul. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

      26. I climbed Mt. Whitney 6 weeks pregnant with my first child, and have continued hiking into my second trimester. I wrote a little post about it 😀
        http://aspectcreatio.com/hiking-while-pregnant/
        Something about hiking for two was extra rewarding, carrying my little lentil up the highest peak of the US was something I’ll always remember. I feel great, and wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I am not going overboard. When it gets a little too high for my liking, I just slow down or take a quick rest. Thanks for this post, I’m glad to see there are more mama’s like me! Next week I’ll be hiking and rafting through Big Bend National Park (currently at 22 weeks), so excited!

      27. Thank you Amy for your blog. I’m anxious about going on a hike while pregnant due to risks and most people around me advice to be very careful and stop doing my usual activities. However, my body is itching to go on trekking again.
        I’m a runner and an outdoor person. My husband and I love hiking and long distance running. I ran a marathon while 4 weeks pregnant without knowing that a little miracle is growing inside me. Did some indoor wall climbing and bouldering as well. My doctor still allowed me to run but with slower pace and less mileage than the usual.
        My husband and I have done several challenging hikes and I grew up in a region with mountains and going on a hike is just a natural thing. However, it’s my first pregnancy and I’m worried about until when and up to what elevation I can go on a hike. I really would like to go on trekking in April and I will be 32 weeks pregnant by then. Anyone had an experience with going on a whole day trekking in few consecutive days? I hope you can share your experience

      28. Hi!

        Thank you SO much for writing this post. I am a first time mother, and an pretty avid hiker. I try to get out almost every single weekend. Now, being pregnant, i somewhat feel that I’m hindered in hiking. What if i hurt the baby? etc.. This is very informative and ill make sure to bring it up to my Dr when i see him next. I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant and have been going like normal times, if not maybe a little easier then normal. I’ll be heading to Vancouver Island when I’m around 6 months pregnant and plan on doing a lot of hiking and I’m a little worried i wont be able to handle it. But this gives me reassurance that i should be able to go froward with it. Thanks again!

        Amber

      29. I love this! I hiked through both my pregnancies. We live in Colorado at 6000 feet and the two things my OBGYN told me were not to go above 9000 feet because I wasn’t acclimated to it and to stay at a pace where I could carry on a conversation. With my second son, my appendix ruptured at 19 weeks, I had to have surgery to remove it, and subsequently became very sick from the infection. All my doctors involved felt that it would have been much worse had I been an unhealthy and sedentary person, and I would have most likely lost the pregnancy. So, along with good medical care and antibiotics, hiking and being active really did help save my life, as well as my sons life.

        • Oh scary!!! That actually happened to me with my first too at 32 weeks….and then baby came early! It’s all about total health!

      30. Yes! Pregnancy is not an illness! I continued to do all my favorite outdoor activities throughout both of my pregnancies including kayaking on my due date with my first and hiking on my due date with my second. I even took a Mommy/Son camping trip with my son (2) while pregnant with my daughter and continued to carry him in a backpack until my belly got in the way of the hip belt. The key is to listen to your body (and your dr.). You know when you need to rest or if something feels off. You also have to accept (and don’t feel guilty about) having to modify what you would usually do, like picking a shorter hike, traveling at a slower pace or taking more breaks.

      31. Hi Amy,
        This is a really useful article, thank you. Very inspiring!
        I’m just wondering, and sorry if I missed it, how long your average hike was at around 24-26 weeks? I am looking at doing a rather steep but short walk at that time, probably up and back in a day, but I am keen to camp. I’ve done it before, so it’s not unknown but how I will be is. I am relatively fit and walk 30 minutes every day. I think this walk would be around 4 hours return. I am a photographer, so would need to carry that gear but otherwise would try to keep my load to a minimum. I will talk to my OB, but just interested in your opinion. Thank you!!

      32. Hi, thanks for this post. I’m looking for advice or maybe reassurance.
        We are really torn over a trip we have planned to Banff and Glacier when I will be 30 to 32 weeks pregnant. I went into my first pregnancy in good shape, (day hikes, yoga and gym every week, 3 to 5 day hiking trips a few times a year, etc) and hiked/walked throughout. We did hiking holidays up to 17 weeks (but just day hikes), and carried on with weekend day hikes almost throughout – just getting shorter and flatter. I did notice that already by about 20 weeks I was MUCH slower, especially on the uphill. I feel I’ve gone into this pregnancy less fit – a toddler has eaten into my gym / yoga time, and while we still walk every weekend, it’s shorter / easier / toddler-friendly. I’m having much more lower back pain. (Also, I am 40, which may be older than some of the other mothers posting here!) We had planned a Banff / Glacier trip – including e.g. 2 nights in a hike-in only chalet via a 7 mile trail – before knowing I would be pregnant. I already think the hike-in chalet won’t work for me. (I’d have to carry our stuff, as my husband would take our daughter). And now I’m a little worried about the trip in general – I worry that we’re going all this way to somewhere beautiful, and I will only be able to do short (crowded?) trails and it will feel like a “waste” – or that I will be too uncomfortable to do much of anything. (I can’t really remember what 30 weeks feels like!) On the other hand, if we have to stay toddler-friendly for a few years anyway, it’s not like postponing to next year or the year after would make much difference…. And we really want to get out into nature somewhere beautiful this year! I suppose I am looking for thoughts about how we can still do a fun, worthwhile trip, even with the constraints of being 30+ weeks pregnant. Thoughts?

        • Amelia says:

          Hi Caro – so funny….I am pregnant with Baby #5 right now and realized I had planned things later in the pregnancy forgetting what it is like to be that pregnant. Amazing how we forget so easily! I think every woman is different, but I would honestly have a very hard time personally at 30-32 weeks trying to do a lot of hiking and sightseeing. However, I think that if you go into it knowing you’ll do more short trips and car rides, you’ll be ok. Maybe put off Banff/Glacier for at least a year and look more local? Wish I had a crystal ball (for myself AND you), but it really depends on the person AND the pregnancy! I had two premies and two full terms….so you just never know!!!

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      1. […] over to Tales of a Mountain Mama to read my 6 Tips for Hiking While Pregnant and share your experiences in the […]

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      3. […] Hike on Mama!  It’s Good For The Baby on Board! […]

      4. […] fresh air and stretch those sore muscles. Even if you don’t feel like going, you’ll probably feel great afterward. If you have children, a short nature walk in a local state park will help avoid ODing on screen […]

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