July 10, 2018

Hiking While Pregnant: Tips for Mastering the Trail & What to Pack

Hiking while pregnant can mean different things to different people, and it can also depend on many different factors. 

How far along are you? Are you second trimester and have all the energy in the world, or about to burst and afraid your feet will swell to the size of balloons? Are you leisurely hiking a park trail, or challenging yourself to an uphill climb?

Regardless of how adventurous you are or how far along you are, pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from exploring the outdoors and getting a good workout. Not to mention, getting outdoors is a great way to clear your mind and any anxieties that may be lingering as baby’s due date approaches. 

There are, however, some things to think about before lacing up your shoes. Here are a few things to consider, including recommendations for what to carry in your daypack. 

Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

Cardio exercise is one of the most important ways to stay healthy during pregnancy. For the most part, hiking while pregnant is safe. But every woman is different and every pregnancy is different too. First things is to check with your health care provider before you think about heading out on any adventures. If you're a long-time hiker, hiking is probably safe. But, if you have had a complicated pregnancy or have never hiked before, it might not be your best choice. 

Once you do get the go-ahead, plan the trail accordingly. Keep in mind that even terrain is best. Be sure to always wear appropriate footwear - good traction and support are key. Wearing the right shoes is vital to staying on your feet and preventing back pain. Until you know how your pregnant body handles the hike, start with an easy trail and go from there. 

If you are heading out of town for your hike, take note of the closest healthcare facility to where you’re going. You should prepare yourself for any possible emergencies - it’s good to have a plan in place for how you’re going to get there fast in an emergency. Be sure to hike with a buddy and where there is cell phone service. You never know.  

Don’t carry too much weight. Carrying an extra 20, 30, or 40 pounds of baby weight already can throw off your centre of gravity, putting you at an increased risk of falls. Stick to even, clearly defined trails and only bring enough supplies for the day, packed in a small daypack. Being comfortable is key. 

Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! While pregnant, you’re going to get overheated and dehydrated faster, so you need to drink about twice as much water on a normal day. When you go hiking, you’ll need to up that even more. Staying hydrated will help replenish all the water you lose when you sweat. It will also prevent muscle cramps. Remember, drink only bottled or filtered water. Do not get adventurous and drink from a steam or river you come across as it may make you sick.

Protect your skin. Regardless of the season, your skin is susceptible to the sun’s UV rays. This is especially true during pregnancy, when pregnancy hormones can make your skin sensitive to the sun. Follow shaded trails when possible and always apply a sunscreen with a minimum 30 SPF prior to your hike. 

Keeping your blood sugar up while you’re hiking is crucial too. As soon as you realize you’re getting hungry, have a snack. It can be trail mix or a protein bar. Anything small, healthy, and easy to eat will do.

No matter how far along you are, your bathroom trips are probably frequent. Pay the toilet a visit when you see one, even if you don’t have to go. Pack some TP in your daypack just in case nature calls at an inopportune location. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer and maybe even some baby wipes. 

Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

Stay comfortable. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable enough as it is. Wear loose fitting clothes that will wick away sweat, comfortable shoes and a large sun hat to cover your face, ears and neck. Tucking a small package of baby wipes in your daypack is also handy to help wipe the sweat from your face (and other unwanted places). 

Finally, know your limits. Be aware of over exertion - symptoms include uterine contractions, excessive perspiration and increased shortness of breath. Remember that regardless of the activity, you shouldn’t push yourself while you’re pregnant. Your body is busy growing another human - it needs energy, rest, and relaxation as much as exercise. You know your body best. Listen to your body and what it is telling you, including when you need to slow down and when you need to ‘call it a hike’. 

Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

It’s easy to let people judge what you decide to do during your pregnancy. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re pregnant. Including hiking. Remember to always talk to your health care provider. But, once you do get the green light, get out there and enjoy making memories hiking while pregnant! 

Photos taken on a recent day hike through Toronto's Rouge National Urban Park.

Do you have any tips for hiking while pregnant? I’d love to hear!

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Tips for Hiking while Pregnant

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