When I found out I was pregnant, I felt pretty much every emotion possible. From excited and happy to “oh my god what did we get ourselves into?!” However, I knew the next nine months would be an incredible journey that I was ready to take on.
One thing in the back of my mind from the beginning though was, will I still be able to hike and get outside as much? Of course looking back now it seems like such a silly question, but it wasn’t at the time. Every pregnancy is different, and this was my first time going through it. There are so many stages of pregnancy that I know can be challenging. I was worried about getting morning sickness, feeling tired and unmotivated and eventually as I grew bigger, worried I simply wouldn’t be able to be as mobile.
There are definitely limitations when it comes to hiking while pregnant, but it is one hundred percent doable! While I was excited for this next stage in my life, I knew hiking still needed to be a part of it no matter what. So, I’ve put together a short list of tips on how to continue your hiking excursions throughout your pregnancy.
Pace yourself. It seems pretty simple, but I think this is important during each trimester of pregnancy. The first trimester I luckily did not have morning sickness and was able to resume normal life for the most part. However, it’s easy to forget that you are still growing a tiny human inside you! While you might not physically look any different, there is still a lot going on and your body is working extra hard, so be sure to take things a little bit slower than usual. I’m typically a pretty fast-paced hiker so this one was a little hard for me at first.
Bring snacks and lots of water. Again, this seems like a no brainer but even on short hikes don’t feel silly for packing more than you normally would. I became slightly anemic during the second trimester and found myself getting lightheaded even during a walk around the neighborhood. Having water and a snack, like nuts, a protein bar or a fruit snack was incredibly helpful and allowed me to keep going for longer without having to turn around before the hike was over.
Take as many breaks as you need. This one was hard for me, especially when I was hiking with other people. I felt like I had to constantly apologize for needing to stop to either catch my breath or take a pee break. But taking breaks, even just for a few minutes, will save you in the long run. I always warned whoever I was hiking with that even if we were doing a short, flat hike I would likely need to stop a few times and everyone understood completely.
Research your hike. I use AllTrails for this purpose and it became a great resource during my pregnancy. Knowing exactly how far we’d be going and how much elevation gain there would be helped me mentally prepare ahead of time. Even on trails I had hiked a hundred times before, I usually never paid attention to the distance and how long it took me. By the third trimester there were some hikes I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle based on distance or how well the trail was maintained, so be sure to always plan ahead even if it’s a hike you’ve done before.
Turn around if you need to. At the beginning of every hike I would tell myself it’s okay if you need to turn around. I only had to do this one time while hiking in Tuscon because of the heat, but I think it was important to have this in the back of my mind at the beginning of every hike. I hate feeling defeated, but during my pregnancy I knew I needed to listen to my body and it’s limitations, and that it was okay every once in a while to not complete a hike the whole way through.
Find the right shoes. Pre-pregnancy I had three pair of hiking shoes I would rotate between. They worked great at first, but I realized as I continued to get bigger that my stability was a bit off and the shoes weren’t providing as much support as I needed and felt very heavy on my feet. I found a pair of Merrell trail running shoes that ended up being my staple hiking shoes during pregnancy. They gave me the stability I needed yet were also lightweight and it made a huge difference!
There are many other ways to continue hiking throughout your pregnancy, but I found these to be the essential guidelines I used. Something to always keep in mind though is that every pregnancy is different, and sometimes there will be setbacks that you didn’t anticipate. Remind yourself that it’s okay if you aren’t in the same shape you were before. Your body is doing amazing things, and the end result is pretty incredible!