Hiking is a popular pursuit the world over because it’s a fantastic way to relax, switch off and appreciate all of nature’s glory.
So if you are a fan of this activity, the good news is that hiking during pregnancy is generally safe for most women, and it’s a terrific way to get in some exercise during your pregnancy.
So let’s look at ten tips to help you stay safe and enjoy what hopefully will be a fun and memorable trip.
Table of Contents
- 10 Tips For Hiking While Pregnant
- Is Hiking Dangerous While Pregnant?
10 Tips For Hiking While Pregnant
1. Check Your Equipment
Our first tip begins before your trip begins.
During pregnancy it’s usual for your feet to expand and for your growing bump to get in the way of things like your backpack.
Although carrying a backpack while pregnant is generally safe, it’s a good idea to reduce the weight as much as you can, so it’s perfectly reasonable to ask your partner or friends to carry a little more than usual to reduce your load!
You may also discover your normal backpack is too small or uncomfortable, and that your regular walking boots are too tight if your feet are prone to swelling during your pregnancy, in which case you might need to buy a few new things for your trip.
If you are hiking on more challenging terrain or want something to give additional stability and balance you might also want to invest in some trekking poles, which are also known as hiking poles or walking stick.
2. Choose The Right Trail & Take It Easy
As a general rule, the further along you are in your pregnancy, the easier the trek should be.
So if you’re in your second and third trimesters it’ a good idea to choose easier hikes and to not push yourself too hard (more on this later).
3. Stay Low
Medical experts recommend moms-to-be avoid high altitude because you may experience exaggerated breathlessness and palpitations.
Why? Because because common symptoms of mountain sickness (like headaches and nausea) are also pregnancy side-effects, meaning it’s difficult to distinguish between the two.
As a side-note, this is one reason why skiing is not recommended while pregnant.
So select a trail at a low altitude, and if you do ascend, take it easy and do it slowly.
4. Make The Journey Comfortable
Our next tip is to make yourself as comfortable as possible during your journey to the hiking spot.
In an ideal world it’s probably better to choose a destination close to home if you can.
But if not and your destination is far from when you live, you’ll probably want to stop several times on the drive, and get out and stretch to guard against deep venous thrombosis (blood clots).
The need to go to the bathroom more often than usual is also why closer destinations are better, but either way, make sure you plan enough stops into your journey,
5. Pack A Lot Of Snacks
But it’s important that these extra calories come from nutrient-dense sources high in protein and good fat, and low in sugar.
With so many convenient high protein snacks to choose from, including protein bars, trail mix, oats and peanut butter, it shouldn’t be too hard to pack nutritious snacks that will help fuel you during your hike.
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.
6. Drink Plenty Of Water
And while hiking or exercising you should probably drink even more than that, especially if you are out in hot weather.
Pregnant women should guard against excessive sun exposure dehydration as it can be dangerous for your baby, so it’s also helpful to know the signs of dehydration – if you experience any of below you should take in a lot more liquid.
- Urinating infrequently
- Dark yellow urine color
- Dry mouth or tongue
- Stopped sweating
- Feeling tired, light-headed, or dizzy
7. Protect Against Too Much Sun
Exposure to sunshine can be great for everyone, particularly as it’s a source of vitamin D, which is beneficial for moms-to-be.
However, pregnant women are at an increased risk of overheating, and as we mentioned above dehydration can be bad for you and your baby.
So stick to the shade where possible, avoid the middle of the day heat, and make sure you don’t become sun burnt or dehydrated while hiking.
8. Watch Our For Insect Bites
It sounds like a myth, but mosquitos are proven to be more attracted to pregnant women.
There are two reasons for this: respiratory system changes during pregnancy mean you breathe out more carbon dioxide (which mosquitos are attracted to), and with a warmer than normal body temperature and increased sweating you’re more easy to find by mosquitos.
Two great ways to protect against insect bites include covering your entire body (or at least as much skin as possible) with clothing, and using insect repellent (and reapply as directed).
9. Don’t Overdo Things
Your energy levels and stamina are therefore likely to be lower than pre-pregnancy, so take things easy and never feel embarrassed or self-conscious if you need to go slowly or take frequent breaks.
For most people the goal of the activity is to have an enjoyable time with your partner or friends, not to push yourself too hard physically, so go at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
10. Ensure There Is A Hospital Within Reach
Our final tip regards your location, because it could be a good idea to consider a trail that is within fairly close reach of a hospital.
Some women will be comfortable hiking in locations that are more off the grid while pregnant, and depending on your circumstances this should be fine.
But if you are far along in the third trimester, at a higher risk of complications or are more risk averse, you may prefer to hike somewhere where there’s a hospital nearby with an OBGYN on call.
Is Hiking Dangerous While Pregnant?
Hiking is typically considered safe for pregnant women, because it’s a low impact activity and a great way to get in some moderate exercise while you’re expecting.
This fun activity is safe for early pregnancy as well as when you’re further along, although you will want to take things easier as you progress towards your full term.
If you like the idea of hiking but want something a little more gently you could always try hill walking when pregnant, which should give you many of the same benefits but in a more relaxed way.
In summary, hiking during pregnancy is typically safe for most women, although you may want to consult with your midwife or doctor first for piece of mind.
Be prepared to change a few things to accommodate your changing body and energy levels, and above all use common sense and don’t push yourself too hard.
By following the advice above you should find that hiking while pregnant is a lot of fun and a great way relax and spend quality time with your partner before your little one is born.