Hiking While Pregnant – Tips for the Third Trimester

January 7, 2013 in Tips & Recommendations

Hiking while pregnant - 30 weeks

Hiking while pregnant – 30 weeks

Ahh, the third trimester… the pregnancy homestretch. Although depending on how you’re feeling it can either crawl or fly by. Our little fella will be joining us “on the outside” in the next week or two, so I thought this would be a good chance to recap what I learned about hiking while pregnant during the third trimester.

For me, some weeks flew by while others trudged along, which was reflected on how much we were able to get outdoors. Between the growing belly and uncooperative weather we didn’t get out on the trails as much as I had hoped during the third trimester, but we still managed to hit up quite a few trails… and learn a few good lessons in the process.

Third Trimester Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

  1. Wash, rinse, repeat. Pretty much everything from my posts about hiking while pregnant during the first trimester and during the the second trimester still applies… I was still active (much slower!), but the rapidly expanding belly required a few additional considerations for hiking while pregnant.
  2. Meet my new best friend: Trekking Poles. Ahh, trekking poles. I didn’t get a pair until the beginning of the third trimester and regretted not getting them earlier. Once I started using trekking poles I was able to keep up with Nate and the dogs at a much more comfortable pace.
    hiking while pregnant with trekking poles

    Hiking while 39 weeks pregnant with my new favorite gear: trekking poles.

    I’m not exactly sure of the particulars, but using the trekking poles reduced the pressure on my belly and virtually eliminated round ligament pains. Plus the reassurance of having the extra balancing support helped minimize my concern about trips or falls. My recommendation to anyone would be to pick up a pair of trekking poles early in the second trimester – you’ll get a lot of use out of them and it will make hiking while pregnant far more enjoyable.

  3. Shorter distances and flatlands. While the trekking poles certainly helped me to extend the distances that I was able to hike, third trimester hiking distances were a far cry from the first and second trimester. Ideally if we go hiking we’ll do a minimum of six miles… that definitely changed as the third trimester progressed. Hilly and rocky terrain was exchanged for smooth, flat trails and we slowly decreased our mileage down to about 2 miles for the last few hikes. The last few hikes have been very s-l-o-w going, but still worth the effort.

While it was kind of a bummer to skip over the more adventurous hikes, the refreshing feeling that came from simply being outdoors and stretching my legs during the third trimester provided a real boost to my energy – both physically and emotionally. I highly recommend getting out as much as you can… word on the street is that things change A LOT when the baby makes his arrival.

It’s been a great 9.75 months for both me and Nate and we can’t wait to share with you what we learn about parenting while getting out and about in nature.

So that’s my two cents worth. What’s been your experience being active and outdoorsy while pregnant?

Check out my experiences hiking while pregnant during the first trimester and as my belly grew and I kept hiking during the second trimester

Hiking Pregnant – Tips for the Second Trimester

November 19, 2012 in Tips & Recommendations

For the most part I really lucked out during the first trimester – no morning sickness but PLENTY of fatigue. So when the second trimester dawned and that much talked about 2nd tri burst of energy set in, I was more than happy to stay on the trails. Hiking pregnant during the second trimester felt great. We took on new challenges, but tempered them to some degree because while I felt really good, there was no doubt things were changing that affected hiking during pregnancy.

Second Trimester Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

  1. 16 weeks pregnant - summiting gray's peak

    Summiting Grays Peak at 16 weeks pregnant

    Remember what I wrote about hiking during the first trimester? Guess what. It all still applies! Water, water, water. Snack, snack, snack. Move, move, move. Nap, nap, nap. Even at 32 weeks these are the staples that help me to continue hiking during my pregnancy.

  2. Hello, round ligament pain. Oye! Round ligament pain… that was a new phenomenon that kicked in during hikes in the second trimester. While I didn’t really start showing an obvious baby bump until almost 21/22 weeks, pain from sudden movements like standing up from squatting to take a picture and climbing or descending steep trails/boulders started flaring up late in the first trimester. Whenever this aggravating pain reared its head, I had to shift into low gear until it faded. Sometimes it felt better after just a few seconds of standing still, other times it would require me to slow down for a good stretch of the trail – 1/4 to 1/2 a mile once or twice. While it usually came on as a painful shock, the good thing is that it generally subsided without much fuss. We never had to turn around or cut the hike short, but I did modify how I handle ascents/descents. Smaller strides and slower motion helped minimize my bouts of round ligament pain while hiking.
  3. Feet don’t fail me now. The second trimester is when I got nervous about falling. I became extra cautious in slippery or rocky areas. The good thing is that my dear husband was always there to provide a balancing hand when the terrain got a little dicey. And I unapologetically took it every time. He’s a great partner like that – I suppose my recommendation on how to handle rocky terrain doesn’t just go for those who are hiking while pregnant, but for anyone who is on the trail with us pregnant ladies. Lend a hand — and ladies, be sure take a hand to make sure you don’t take any unnecessary tumbles. If you’d rather balance yourself, grab a set of trekking poles (these have become invaluable in my third trimester… I’ll write more about them in my next hiking pregnant post).
  4. Hiking while pregnant - 23 weeks

    Hiking at Cane Creek Falls – 23 weeks pregnant

    The talk test. We did several challenging hikes during the second trimester that left me wondering if I was keeping my heart rate within the recommended 140 bpm during pregnancy. Instead of pulling out a stop watch to check things out, I took the my midwife’s advice to make sure I could talk out loud without too much effort during the physical activity. Granted, this sometimes left me just yapping to myself saying things like “Can I talk out loud without too much effort? K. Seems like it. All is good. Carry on.” No doubt Nate enjoyed these mutterings to myself, but it was a reassuring check that I used frequently to make sure I wasn’t pushing my limits too much.

  5. Challenge yourself, but know your limits. I consciously walked a fine balance between challenging myself and pushing my luck while hiking during the second trimester. When I was 16 weeks pregnant we headed out for a hiking and camping trip in Colorado where we logged 30 miles during 4 days of hiking, including our first 14′er – Grays Peak. The trip came at the perfect time during my pregnancy – a few weeks later and my growing belly would’ve kept us from climbing up the waterfall to Sky Pond, a few weeks earlier and the first trimester fatigue may have limited some of our outings. Our hike up Grays Peak is the perfect example of recognizing my limits. As we neared the summit of Grays, Nate asked if I was ready to head over to hit up Torreys Peak (it was part of our original plan since they’re right next to each other and would’ve only added another 1-2 hours to our trek). Without hesitation I smiled and said, “NOPE.” At 16 weeks pregnant, I felt like I was getting away with summiting our first 14′er and didn’t want to push my luck – there’s not a trail in the world that’s worth pushing my limits that far when there’s a baby on board. We headed back down the mountain proud of our accomplishment and didn’t regret the change in plans.

Hiking while pregnant is different for everyone and every stage is different. The second half of the second trimester we scaled back the distances, but continued trying to get onto the trail. These tips are just some things that have helped keep me on the trail as the baby bump grows!

Let me know what’s worked for you!

Check out what worked for me when I was hiking during the first trimester and hiking during my third trimester

Hiking Pregnant – Tips for the First Trimester

October 23, 2012 in Tips & Recommendations

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.