Hiking Pregnant – Tips for the First Trimester
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
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…
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.