Backpacking is a popular pursuit because it’s a great way to relax, switch off and immerse yourself in all of nature’s glory.
If you are a fan of this activity, you’ll be pleased to hear that backpacking is typically safe for pregnant women, and a great way to get in some essential pregnancy exercise.
But just as with camping, it’s important to ensure you’re fully prepared before setting off, particularly because some of your needs will have changed compared to your pre-pregnancy days.
So in this article we will look at our top tips to help you stay safe and make the most of what should hopefully be a memorable and enjoyable trip.
Let’s jump straight in.
1. Test Out Your Equipment Beforehand
Our first piece of advice begins before your trip starts.
During pregnancy it’s common for your feet to expand and for your bump to get in the way of things you typically took for granted pre-pregnancy.
Although carrying a backpack while pregnant is generally safe, it’s best to reduce the weight as much as possible, so don’t feel bad about asking your partner or friends to carry a little more than usual to lighten your load!
You might also find that your usual backpack is too small or uncomfortable, and that your regular walking boots are too small if your feet have grown or are prone to swelling during your pregnancy.
Some women also find that trekking poles (also known as hiking poles or walking stick) can give you some much-needed stability and balance, especially on uneven terrain.
2. Choose The Right Trail & Take It Easy
As with hiking, the further along you are in your pregnancy, the easier you will want to take things.
When you’re in your second and third trimesters it’s therefore wise to select easier trails and not to push yourself too hard.
Pregnancy can take its toll on your body and your energy levels, whether in the form or back or foot pain or becoming tired much more easily, so don’t feel embarrassed or self-conscious if you need to take frequent breaks or are going slower than usual.
It’s also worth remembering that experts recommend avoiding high altitude while pregnant, particularly because the common symptoms of mountain sickness (such as insomnia, headache, and nausea) are also pregnancy side-effects.
This makes it tricky to distinguish the cause of these symptoms, and is one reason why skiing is not recommended during pregnancy.
So stick to trails that are at a relatively low altitude, and always go easy if you’re ascending to higher elevations during your trip.
3. Pack Comfortable Sleeping Gear
Nothing is sure to spoil your trip more quickly than a really bad night’s sleep.
So our next piece of advice when planning a backpacking trip during your pregnancy is to ensure you have the most comfortable sleeping gear possible.
You may therefore want to pack a thicker than normal sleeping pad or an inflatable sleeping pad, because this is no time to be brave and sleep on hard ground!
4. Stay Hydrated
According to experts, pregnant women should drink 8 to 12 cups of fluids a day (64 to 96 ounces).
And while backpacking, you’re probably going to need to increase your water intake even further thanks to your increase activity, and even further still if you are a hot climate.
Excessive sun exposure and dehydration can be dangerous for pregnant women, so be aware of the the following signs of dehydration – if you experience any of these it’s a sure sign that you need to drink more water.
- You are passing urine infrequently
- Your urine is a dark yellow color
- You have a dry mouth or tongue
- You have stopped sweating
- You feel tired, light-headed, or dizzy
5. Eat Enough Calories
Did you know that experts recommend you eat around 300 extra calories each day while expecting?
While it might be tempting to use those extra calories on sweet treats, remember that not all calories are equal.
So you should ideally get these extra calories from nutrient-dense sources that are high in protein and good fats and low in sugar.
This is particularly important as you will need to eat nutritious food while exercising.
As we recently covered, there are lots of convenient high protein snacks out there, including trail mix, oats, peanut butter with apples, protein bars and rice cakes with nut butter.
And what is great about all these foods is they do not need to be refrigerated, making them an excellent snack for both your journey and during your backpacking trip.
It is also best to avoid certain snacks like beef jerky and other dried meats, because, the drying process used to prepare theses snack may not kill off all harmful bacteria.
In summary, most women can safely backpack while pregnant, although you may want to consult with your midwife or doctor first for piece of mind.
When backpacking during pregnancy, be prepared to update your equipment based on your changing needs, choose the most suitable trail, pack comfortable sleeping gear, and make sure you take in enough food and drink during your trip.
By following the advice above you should find that backpacking while expecting is not only a lot of fun and a great way relax, but can also be a fantastic way to spend some quality time with your partner before your little one is born.