When most active women find out they are pregnant the first thing they do is research what activities they can continue to participate in and what activities should be avoided to protect their growing babies.
With my first pregnancy I played it safe. I immediately quit my bicycle commute to work, my cross-country skis collected dust and my feet became too swollen to fit into my hiking boots. The result was an exhausting pregnancy, a miserable delivery and a 55 pound weight gain.
When I found out that I was pregnant last fall I decided to do things differently. My goal was to listen to my body and trust my motherly intuition. With this pregnancy, staying off of the trails was simply not an option, so I became a pregnant hiker!
pregnant hiker 1
Here are a few things that I’ve learned about hiking while pregnant, even late into my third trimester.
  • Taper your expectations. For me this meant adjusting my pace, load, and goals each trimester. It was hard learning to accept the fact that if I get to the trailhead and realize that I don’t feel like hiking it’s okay to only hike for 15 minutes and then spend few minutes soaking my feet in a cool mountain stream.
  • Know when to slow down. On a day when I feel good it’s easy to push myself too hard and regret it later. To keep the intensity down I try to hike at a pace where I can easily carry on a conversation. Of course this gets more difficult the further along you are in your term.
  • Use trekking poles. I love hiking on diverse and challenging terrain, but the larger my belly has grown, the more difficult it has been to maintain my balance. While I’ve stuck to much easier trails, trekking poles have helped counterbalance my belly and provide a little bit of extra stability, especially on icy and muddy trails.
  • Pack light. Since I have a toddler to tote around with this pregnancy putting away his heavy framed carrier and letting him walk more or carrying him in a much lighter soft carrier has helped me lighten my load. This means reduced mileage at a much slower pace but that’s okay.
  • Ditch the heavy hiking boots. Lately I’ve traded my beloved hiking boots in for a sturdy, comfortable pair of hiking shoes. It’s made a big difference in how swollen my feet feel after a hike. Plus, since I’m sticking to easy local trails and carrying a lighter pack I don’t need the extra support of heavy boots.
pregnant hiker 2
With this pregnancy, sunshine, fresh air and exercise have made a tremendous difference in how I feel, both physically and emotionally. I’m not a physician and don’t claim to be an expert on pregnancy but with a little bit of forethought, most women in low-risk pregnancies can enjoy easy to moderate hikes from the first trimester to the last.
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