Pregnant? Congratulations! Love hiking? Wonderful! Check out these tips for hiking while pregnant. You and your growing bump can hit the trails safely and happily!
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Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits for mom and baby when performed safely and with the approval of your doctor. There is no need to give up your love of hiking during your pregnancy as long as you do so responsibly.
Before doing any kind of exercise or hiking while pregnant, you should discuss it with your health care provider. Most of the time exercise is approved and encouraged during pregnancy, especially if you worked out before pregnancy. However, there are some conditions and situations in which exercising while pregnant could be dangerous, so make sure to consult with a professional first.
Being active while pregnant has many health benefits for mom and has the potential to help to reduce stress, boost your mood, improve sleep, and even speed up post-delivery recovery. There is also research indicating that exercising while pregnant can have many benefits for baby as well.
The tips below will help you to feel safer and more confident about hiking while pregnant so you can get out there on the trails!
Tips for Hiking While Pregnant
1. Stay Hydrated & Fueled
Staying hydrated and keeping your body fueled is important for anyone who is hiking, but even more so when you are pregnant. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your hike.
Just get over having to pee every 10 minutes – yes it is inconvenient, but at least you know that you are well hydrated!
Bring plenty of water on your hike – at least 16 ounces per mile. Bring more than you think you will need! Make sure to turn around once you are halfway through your water supply, even if you haven’t made it to your final destination – it is better to be safe than sorry.
Your body exerts a lot of energy out on the trail, especially when you are building and carrying a baby at the same time! Bring snacks and make sure you are consuming enough nutrients to keep your body fueled.
Hiking Snack Ideas:
- Apple & Nut Butter
- Trail Mix
- Beef Jerky
- Tuna Packets
- Granola Bars/Energy Bars
- Peanut Butter Pretzels
- Dark Chocolate or a Candy Bar – treat yourself a little bit (Summit Snickers!)
Make sure to stretch before and after your hike. If you are feeling tight during the hike, don’t be afraid to stop and stretch a bit mid-hike before continuing on. Stretching can help prevent and alleviate pain and soreness.
Pregnancy Cramp Hack: I don’t know about you, but one of my dreaded pregnancy side effects is getting calf cramps (charley horse), especially during the night. This started around 20 weeks during both of my pregnancies. I kept getting them, even when I would stretch and drink plenty of water. I learned that if I feel one coming on, I can quickly flex my ankle up, point my toes toward my shins and hold it there for a few seconds. This prevents the charley horse every time for me! I have gotten in the habit of doing this every time I shift in the bed during the night, and it has completely stopped the miserable nighttime calf cramps! Give it a try if you suffer from the same!
3. Use the Conversation Test
I love pushing myself on a hike but definitely hold back if I am hiking pregnant. One thing that helps keep me in check is the conversation test.
If you can comfortably carry on a conversation during your hike without being too worn out or out of breath, then you are likely maintaining a safe pace and heart rate.
4. Wear a Belly Band for Support
I was having back pain and numbness in my legs during my second pregnancy. I decided to give a belly band a try, and it was super helpful for me! My back hurt less and I did not have any numbness when I wore the band. I used the band during my regular day-to-day activities and when hiking or working out. I have this belly band. There are many options available – do some research and decide which one, if any, would be beneficial for you.
5. Hiking Poles Can Be Helpful
Hiking poles can help you keep your footing and balance on uneven terrain. They can also help improve posture, and they can relieve some of the impact on your legs and feet.
I personally only use hiking poles if I am on slippery terrain or if I am going down a steep downhill trail. They make a SIGNIFICANT difference when going downhill, in my opinion. My knees and ankles feel a million times better when I use hiking poles going down a steep descent. The poles help absorb the shock and impact and leave me feeling much better after the hike.
These are the hiking poles that I have. They are affordable and have worked great for me. When disassembled, they can fit into carry-on luggage or a tall backpack.
6. Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Your skin tends to be more sensitive than usual during pregnancy. Keep your skin protected and youthful by wearing sunscreen.
We prefer to use mineral sunscreen for the whole family because it is safer/less toxic than other options and is better for the environment. Our favorite is Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, but there are many wonderful mineral sunscreen options out there.
7. Hike With a Buddy & Bring a Cell Phone
These are great tips for anyone who is hiking. There are always unknowns when you are out in the wilderness. Wild animals, unexpected injuries, going into labor – you just never know! It is always best to be prepared and have a way to get help if needed.
8. Wear Shoes with Good Traction
I think this is important for anyone who is hiking, but even more so when you are pregnant. I am definitely more clumsy and off-balance when pregnant, so it is reassuring to hike with shoes that have good traction.
Good hiking shoes or boots protect your feet and help prevent slips or falls on wet ground or loose rock. I have hiked with friends in tennis shoes before, and they were slipping and sliding while those of us in hiking shoes were perfectly fine.
There are many great hiking shoes/boots to choose from. I have this pair of Columbia Hiking Shoes and this pair of Columbia Hiking Boots. Both are waterproof, comfortable, and have excellent traction. I always wear thick socks with them for blister protection and extra comfort.
9. Invest in a Few Maternity Staples
I feel so much more comfortable when I am wearing maternity clothes or high-waisted pants that fit well and keep my growing belly from peeking out. You don’t need a whole new wardrobe, but a comfortable pair of leggings and a few shirts/tanks could really come in handy and help you to feel good when hiking or working out.
10. Take It Easy
I have hiked the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, Angels Landing in Zion, numerous water hikes, and a 14er in Colorado. None of these are hikes that I would ever attempt while pregnant. Those hikes all either involved risk or pushed my body to its limits, neither of which I want to do while pregnant.
Now is not the time to push yourself or try to achieve something physical that you have never done before. You will have plenty of time to do those things in the future, but while you are pregnant – take it easy.
Slow down, stick to lower elevations, find trails with good terrain that you are comfortable and confident on, and avoid situations where you may become overheated. Know your limits and listen to your body.
11. Take Pictures!
You are amazing, mama! Not only are you growing a human, but you are also staying active and pursuing your passions and interests. You should be proud of yourself for getting out on the trails. You are strong, pregnant, and beautiful & should definitely snap some pictures to look back on to remember what you are capable of. This is only the start of the adventure for you and your little trailblazer!
Want some tips for traveling with babies and toddlers? Check out these posts!