Hiking Pregnant – Tips for the First Trimester

New hiker hitting the trails January 2013

New hiker hitting the trails January 2013

I’ve mentioned here and there in previous posts, but starting in January we’ll have a new pair of hiking shoes to fill with the arrival of our first baby! We are incredibly excited about bringing this little fella into the world – it’s been a great trip already and looking forward to these last few months until he’s ready to join us “on the outside.”

But what does this have to do with hiking? Good question. When we first found out Poppy (that’s been his nickname) was on the way, I tried to do some research to learn about other women’s experiences hiking pregnant. I assumed there would be plenty of good resources out there about hiking while pregnant and mostly I found jack squat.

There were a few posts that mentioned it – this one was published by Backpacker.com in 2000 – but in general I didn’t find much. However in recent months there’s been a great push by the outdoor community to talk about not only hiking while pregnant, but all sorts of outdoorsy activities (check out great post by Jessica at the Bionic Chronicles). So I thought it’d be fitting to add my two cents worth on my experience hiking while pregnant – breaking it into tips for hiking by trimester.

First Trimester Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

  1. Hiking at Cloudland Canyon while 7 weeks pregnant

    Get Out on the Trail! Of course, get the okay from your doctor before doing anything, but our midwives were very pleased when they heard that we did a lot of hiking and encouraged us to keep it up throughout the pregnancy. We continued to do longer hikes, 7 – 10 miles on average and found challenging trails. Throughout the first trimester and into the second, we kept up the same pace… but learned to the importance of incorporating the following…

  2. HYDRATE. HYDRATE. HYDRATE. Wow, I had no idea how much more water I would need to guzzle down once pregnant. And double that when it comes to getting outside and working up a sweat while on the trails. Upon the advice from my midwife, I began drinking 80 – 100 oz. on a daily basis and upped that to 120 oz. + when hiking while pregnant. Yep, this meant more bathroom breaks, but this hydration was key for me to maintain a good energy level, avoiding a racing heart rate in the middle of the night after a long day’s hike (that happened once!) and avoiding muscle cramps.
  3. Snack Frequently (and Keep it Healthy). Another new thing we had to get used to (and it took the BOTH of us to figure it out) was my whacked out blood sugar during the first trimester. It took a few hikes to learn that I needed to snack frequently throughout the longer hikes — otherwise my blood sugar would plummet and I turned into a hiking zombie. Eventually I figured out that whenever I felt the first rumble of hunger, that was when I needed to have a small snack – a handful of trail mix, half a Power Bar or Luna Bar. Several small snacks on the hike kept the zombie at bay.
  4. Hiking while pregnant - 11 weeks

    11 weeks pregnant & summited first mountain(!) at Mt. LeConte!

    Exercise at Home. Whether you like to get out and walk, run, yoga, pilates, cycling, climbing – whatever does it for you – keep doing it when you’re not able to get on the trail. I found two prenatal workout videos that I loved (Summer Sanders Pregnancy Workout and Pilates During Pregnancy), both REALLY whipped me into shape. While the purpose of those workouts was to prepare my body for pregnancy and labor, the added benefit was that I was stronger and had better stamina on the trail.

  5. Get Some Rest. Yes, I was intentionally active during my first trimester, but I did learn the importance of taking a break when my body needed it. I’ve always been a fan of naps, but even moreso during the first trimester. Whether on the car ride back from the trail or when we got home, the first trimester demanded a lot of extra shut eye not long after exiting the trailhead.
  6. Listen to Your Body.  I hiked my first mountain while 11 weeks pregnant (Mt. LeConte in the Smokies) – exceeding my own expectations, but there were times when I had to go slower and take more breaks. Pregnancy is a great opportunity to continue having great adventures in the outdoors, just listen to your body.

Read about my experiences hiking pregnant during the second trimester and hiking while pregnant in the third trimester – big belly and all!

For those of you who have been in the same boat, what has your experience been? Post any recommendations for hiking while pregnant during the first trimester in the comments!



Workouts to help you stay active while pregnant.



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  1. Congrats to the both of you. That’s awesome. Our Dinah just turned 10 months a few days ago and has just started walking a few days ago. She’ll be hiking on her own before much longer. LOL. We didn’t do a whole lot of hiking when Robin was pregnant although we did do two 6+ mile hikes at Frozen head when she was in her second trimester. Once the third trimester hit, hiking was pretty much a thing we used to do. Mainly because she was so uncomfortable and never got much sleep. Just a word of advise, get as much sleep as you can. The first couple of months after little poppy arrives, if he’s anything like Dinah, sleep will be considered a luxury if and when you get it. :P

    Congrats again to you and Nate. So happy for you.

    Tim @ Appalachia & Beyond

  2. What do you think about going to really high heights (17,000 ft) on the first month of pregnancy?
    Does the height or atmospheric pressure impact negatively on the baby’s development?
    i just love being outdoors!

    • That’s something that you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider about. When we talked to our midwife about the 14ers that we did, she didn’t have any concerns about it, but that may vary depending on the health of the mother and previous experience with high altitudes. One thing that definitely helped me with the higher altitudes was making sure we had plenty of time to acclimate to the reduced oxygen levels. We spent 4 days in the mountains before climbing Greys Peak so it wasn’t such a shock to our bodies when we started hiking the 14er.

      Definitely touch base with your healthcare provider on that one and let me know what she says!

    • Check out what the Institute for Altitude Medicine has to say about pregnancy and altitude.


      The placentas of women who live at higher altitudes develop differently than those of women living at lower altitude, so I’ve heard some concern around exerting yourself at altitudes even if you’ve acclimatized and feel fine. However, there hasn’t been enough research on what happens to pregnant women who travel to altitude and exercise to say whether this is well founded or not.

  3. What do you do about getting out and about in nature when having morning sickness? Or should I call it…all-day-and-night sickness? I’m plagued with it 24/7 and my inability to go out in nature and have some fun is making me depressed!

    • Ugh. My sympathies, indeed! I’ve really lucked out with my pregnancies and didn’t have severe morning sickness. Have you tried peppermint essential oil? It’s been a big help for some friends who’ve had rough nausea – you can apply it topically or simply inhale it to help relieve some symptoms. My only thought about activity is to take advantage of the good days as much as you can, while still taking it easy. The good news is that even though this phase is miserable, it will pass and you’ll start to feel human again soon! (I promise.)

      Maybe even make a list of places that you’ll venture out to so it gives you something to look forward to when the weeks of nausea finally subside.

      Any other readers have ideas or advice for Rebecca?

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post as well as the comments. I am 7 and a half weeks pregnant and I can’t stop moving. I hike about five miles every other day and walk 2 or 3 in between. I must admit that I’m terrified of my body falling apart after pregnancy, so I’m actually am ping up my physical activity instead of taking it easy. This is my second pregnancy, and I know it’s harder to maintain your shape after your first. Any advice on further workouts or diet that anyone has would be great! Thanks!