Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors while pregnant. However, hiking trails are often more challenging than you might expect. If pregnancy hiking was easy, everyone would do it!
This blog post will cover some of the ways that hiking can be made safer for pregnant women so they can enjoy their time outside without risking injury or complications during pregnancy.
No matter how many weeks you are, or how many weeks you have left, these tips will make you safe and comfortable as you hit the trails! On your next hike, you’ll have all the resources and tips you need for a successful day!
But first, be sure to get your hiking planner before you leave so you can keep track of all the trails you have been on, and document your favorites!
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Is hiking while pregnant safe?
Generally speaking, hiking while pregnant is safe for most women and their baby. If you have any concerns about being able to hike when pregnant, it is always best to ask your doctor before you hit the trails. It is always best to get the green light from a doctor before starting any new exercise routine when pregnant.
This type of exercise should typically not be done by women who have serious health conditions or are at high risk for complications during pregnancy, so make sure to double-check with your doctor if you have concerns.
Every pregnancy is different, so talking with a doctor will give you more insight into if you are able to participate in this activity or not and give you more information on if this is the right choice for you.
Why should pregnant women hike?
Some women may experience increased fatigue during pregnancy, which could make hiking more difficult. Others will find that hiking can provide them with the physical activity they need in order to stay healthy and feel good throughout their pregnancies.
Hikes allow pregnant women to enjoy the outdoors, which has many benefits on both their physical and mental health. Plus, hiking is budget friendly, and you don’t need much gear!
Hiking is a great form of exercise to include in your daily routine for several reasons. It can manage stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure naturally (which may reduce your risk of preeclampsia), and increase strength, conditioning, and stamina levels.
For more ideas on improving self care, check out our article on self care tips!
What to wear hiking when pregnant
Pregnant women should aim to wear hiking clothes that are comfortable and functional. First, wear loose and breathable fabrics. These are ideal for anyone who is hiking to stay cool and prevent overheating.
Next, you should get hiking boots with good ankle support to prevent hiking injuries and make your feet comfortable throughout the hike. Even though gym sneakers might work for a walk outside, you’ll want better shoes for rocky terrain so you don’t stub your toe or trip!
When taking hikes, it is always a good idea to dress in layers or bring extra layers with you. You never know what weather conditions you might encounter or if your hiking activity will increase in intensity.
Check out these hiking hairstyle ideas to help keep your hair up and out of your face and off your neck to keep you comfortable, while still looking cute!
Layering is a good way to manage your temperature and stay comfortable throughout the day, no matter how hot or cold it gets outside.
Going camping at the end of your hike? Learn how to stay comfortable while camping when pregnant!
Hiking essentials for the pregnant woman
Here is a list of essentials that should be taken on your hike. For a more complete list, you may wish to check out our article on packing for hikes.
First, pack plenty of water. Next, pack layers of clothing, snacks, a portable charger (in case your phone dies and there is an emergency situation), sunglasses, a hat, and first aid.
Be mindful of the weight of your bag. You shouldn’t be carrying too much weight on your back during this type of activity. Have a friend or a partner be in charge of carrying the pack if you can.
If you are going solo and carrying the pack is inevitable, be sure to take breaks every so often.
Because your center of gravity will be off, hiking poles can help you with your balance and remain steady. Trekking poles will also take some of the pressure off of your knees, legs, and feet by keeping you at a more even weight distribution during hiking activities.
Trekking poles can also prevent falls on any uneven trail, so they are definitely handy to have around! There are plenty of options out there, so do some research to find the right one for you!
When pregnant, your skin is more sensitive and prone to burns. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen on any exposed skin, especially your face as it is the most delicate part of your body that will be exposed to the hot sun all day.
I recommend sunscreens like Neutrogena Dry Sunscreen for your body and Olay Whips with SPF 25 for your face. It does not leave your skin greasy, and I can even easily apply makeup over it! I like these options a lot, and wear them almost every day!
Check out our post on more ways to prevent sunburn and keep your skin healthy each and every day!
Hiking Pregnancy: Tips for a successful hike in the First Trimester and Beyond
Whether you are in the first trimester or the third trimester, these tips will help you have a fun and safe day out on the trail!
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your hike
When pregnant, your body needs extra water to support your baby, so you need to make sure that you are drinking enough water before going hiking. It is also important during and after the hike for muscle recovery.
Consider bringing one large water bottle or a water pack with you on your hike. Many hiking backpacks even have water bladders in them that make it much easier to bring water with you and stay hydrated.
Be mindful of the weight of your backpack. Adding a lot of water can create a heavy pack, which can add extra strain on your pregnant body. If you can, have a friend or your partner carry the water to take the extra weight off of your body.
If you are in pain, stop immediately until it subsides
It is important that when hiking while pregnant, you take the time to listen to your body and stop immediately if you feel any type of pain or discomfort.
Look out for pains such as cramping or discomfort in the abdomen, as these could be some first signs of labor if you are in the third trimester, or dangerous complications if you are in the first trimester.
If you feel any pain anywhere in your body, your next action would be to take a moment to rest. Sit down on a bench or nearby rock until you feel better and can continue hiking. Always consult your doctor if the pain persists.
Be mindful of altitude changes
One common symptom of pregnancy is shortness of breath. Elevation gains on hikes can make this symptom worse, so be sure to research the elevation gain of your hike before you head out on your adventure. Be sure to check in with your doctor if your shortness of breath continues to get worse.
Check out our article on preventing altitude sickness for more tips on how to deal with elevation gains when you are on the trail!
An increase in altitude can also leave you more prone to dehydration and sunburn, so make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen with you!
Always hike with someone else
When going hiking while pregnant, you should always bring someone with you. This could be your partner, a family member, or a friend. No matter how many weeks pregnant you are, having someone with you will help keep you safe on the trail.
If hiking alone is inevitable, it is a great idea to have a reliable way of communicating with someone in case there are any problems. Have an emergency phone number available and ensure someone knows exactly where you’re going so they can send help if needed!
I would leave them a detailed map of where you plan to be, along with what time you plan to leave and return.
Listen to your body- don’t push yourself too hard
During pregnancy, your body is working extremely hard at all times. Adding physical activity is a great way to stay active and keep your body healthy, though it adds much more stress to your already overworked muscles!
You may find that your heart rate becomes elevated and exercise is more difficult than it used to be. My heart rate would beat what seemed like 100x more than usual!
Listen to your body and stop if you feel tired or winded. Know that there is no shame in taking a break or taking your time on the trail.
While exercise is important, resting and recovery are also vital to your health during pregnancy. Ensure you aren’t taking too many hikes, and that rest days are part of your schedule as well!
Research your hike ahead of time
Always research your next hike ahead of time to choose the right one for you! This ensures that you know the terrain, weather conditions, and elevation gain. You also want to know if there are bathrooms around the hiking trail if needed. This will prevent any surprises that might lead to a more difficult hiking experience.
Choose trails that are mostly flat with even terrain. This will prevent any tripping or falls that could be dangerous for you and your little one.
You will also want to choose to take your hike on a cool, dry day. Knowing the weather ahead of time will help you plan and dress accordingly. Be cautious of hiking when there is a chance of rain around the area, as this could lead to slipping or falling.
Planning to adventure in the Colorado Springs area? Check out our article about the best hikes in Colorado Springs!
Avoid hiking on really hot days
Like stated in the previous tip, you want to avoid hiking on really hot days. High heat, humidity, and strenuous activities can cause dehydration or overheating. This could be really dangerous for both you and your baby.
Choose cool, dry days instead! This will be a lot comfortable for you to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air. If going in the warm summer months is inevitable, make sure you have some tools to cool yourself down. Consider bringing a portable fan or cooling washcloths.
What to do if something goes wrong during your hike
We hope this never happens, but in the event that there is an emergency when you are hiking while pregnant, it is important to call your doctor for help as soon as possible.
If you feel that something is not right with your health, do not be afraid to stop hiking and rest until the feeling goes away. If it doesn’t go away or gets worse, consider heading back home if possible and call 911 immediately! It never hurts to be safe and keep your baby healthy!
If you can’t find a phone signal, ask a fellow hiker who is around on the trails for help. They may need to run back to the beginning of the trail to find a signal or someone who can be of more help.
Dealing with pregnancy symptoms while hiking
No matter what trimester you are in, there are a whole host of unwanted symptoms. From morning sickness, to headaches, to muscle cramps, pregnancy is not easy (but so worth it for that cute little baby on the way!
If you are dealing with morning sickness in your first trimester, consider bringing anti-nausea candies with you to suck on. Anything that makes you comfortable while at home on the couch, try to bring them with you if you think you might want or need them.
The first trimester (and all trimesters for that matter) are really hard, so don’t feel discouraged if you need to turn around and go back home. You may only be able to hike a short distance, and that is perfectly ok!
We hope these tips are helpful as you navigate hiking during your pregnancy journey. Hopefully, on your next hike, you are more confident that you will be comfortable and enjoy yourself!
Pregnancy is not easy, and we give you credit for even attempting to add hiking to the mix! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and your new baby!
Be sure to get your hiking planner before you leave so you can keep track of all the trails you have been on, and document your favorites!