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So you’re pregnant and you want to hike…people might call you crazy. Some people in my life thought I was a little insane, especially the other pregnant women. But avid hikers don’t stop being avid hikers just because they’re growing a tiny soon-to-be avid hiker inside them. So how can you hike safely and continue to enjoy it while slowly becoming more cranky and uncoordinated? I don’t have an answer for you, but I do have some suggestions.
I have curated a list of tips based on my own experience. I hiked at least once a week throughout my pregnancy, if not more often. And our day hikes were usually 10-15km. Here is what I learned…
Maman on the Trail’s Tips for Hiking While Pregnant:
Forget everything you think you know!
- Dress in less than you think you need and dress in layers. If you’re anything like me, that bun is turning you into an oven. I’m used to being cold and always dressing in an extra layer or two, but that was not the case while I was baking little Huckleberry. If you don’t want to end up carrying everything that you wore, dress in a little less than you think you will need. You’ll warm up as you move if you’re a little cool to start.
- Bring more water than you think you need and bring some electrolytes too. Overheating and dehydrating while pregnant are not safe. You’ll want to drink often, especially if you’re not feeling so great. I used a CamelBak Antidote Reservoir 100 oz/3.0L on all of our hikes and never drank it dry but it was close some days. And my favourite electrolyte beverage is Nuun Active Effervescent Electrolyte Supplement Lemon + Lime (*available at Well.ca). You want to be drinking about ½ litre of water per hour when hiking, more when it’s hot.
- Bring more food than you think you need and bring food you know you like. Unless you are an excellent forager, you’re going to need to bring snacks. And if you’ve been pregnant before, you already know that you’re perma-hungry. Also, you will be happiest if you bring snacks that you have eaten since becoming pregnant and know you like, that way there is much less risk of upset stomach.
- Take more breaks than you think you need and take them often. Rocks, logs, benches – they all make great places to rest. Even just leaning against a tree trunk is pleasant. And remember, if you can’t maintain a conversation while exercising (during pregnancy), you’re exercising too hard!
- Carry less weight than you’re used to. Now is not the time to carry a heavy pack for the first time. That’s what partners are for! By all means, eventually carry more weight, but start with just a little and work your way up there.
Find balance (literally & metaphorically).
- For some literal balance, wear a pack. Even if there isn’t anything but your hydration bladder and a snack, that little bit of weight will help keep you balanced as your centre of gravity shifts. I personally used the MEC Women’s Air Hike 22 on all of our day hikes. It’s designed for the female body and will fit around the belly. They don’t seem to sell it anymore but the Air Hike 14 is comparable and on sale.
- Bring some healthy snacks and some junk food. You should be eating healthy, but you know you’re going to want the not-so-healthy stuff. And cravings on the trail are hard to curb if you haven’t prepared for them. I definitely spent a few entire hikes thinking of nothing but Taco Bell or poutine because I didn’t bring myself anything fun to eat.
- Don’t hike too much or too little. For the most part, anything you were doing before getting pregnant, you can continue to do while pregnant. So if you’re body is used to 10km+ hikes, then continue to do so. But don’t try your first 10km hike in your second trimester. Also, if you only hike once every never, then you’re really going to struggle that one time you do go out. So try to find a happy balance that doesn’t exhaust you.
Some thoughts on gear…
- Invest in bottoms with a wide elastic waistband. Ideally, you could go on a shopping spree at Mountain Mama, but we aren’t all made of money. Instead, find yourself a pair of light athletic shorts or pants with a 3” wide (or more) elastic waistband. I spent the summer in *Columbia Women’s Back Beauty Long Sport Shorts and the fall/winter in MEC Women’s Amanita Pants both of which are currently on sale. I’m actually in love with both of those bottoms, I plan to review them soon.
- Invest in a good sports bra, especially one you would be comfortable wearing as a shirt if you are pregnant in the summer. You will thank me for this. We spent a few days backpacking in Frontenac Provincial Park this past summer and once we hit the campsite, I lived in my bra and shorts – paired with some cute quick dry underwear, it can double as a swimsuit. I bought myself a North Face Bounce-B-Gone Bra. I wore it for hiking, walking, running, swimming & sleeping (on the trail).
- Get some hiking poles. I didn’t do this, but really should have and will next time around. I would often just holler at the husband to give me a hand, or grope every tree on my way up or down a hill. But poles would have been lovely.
- Wear hiking boots! Please don’t try to hike in shoes. I would even wear my hiking boots on flat, peat gravel or dirt, walking trails just for the extra support on my ankles and for the tread.
This is me on our first backpacking trip -> 17 weeks pregnant and it was 40°c with the humidity so I lived in that bra and the water!
Do you have any other tips that should be added based on your experience hiking while pregnant? Tell me in the comment section below and I will add them to the post!