I really hope I’ll be able to hike throughout my pregnancy, not just because it’s excellent for my physical health and that of the wee babby, but because, as I have learned over and over again throughout the years, it’s like Prozac to me. That said, right from the start I was surprised how much more difficult it felt to hike for two. I had somewhat naively thought it would feel just like normal, but with an increasingly heavy backpack carried on my stomach. Hah!
First lesson I learned: don’t make any grand plans; every pregnancy is different. Some people don’t even notice much difference at all, while others spend nine months fighting lethargy, throwing up, and on bed rest with pelvic issues. So just hope for the best and do what you can.
Second lesson: ehrmagerd, the tiniest of hills suddenly feel like Everest! On flats, downhills, and even while running (once my, uhm, tender mammaries allowed me to do so), I feel pretty much like normal, but once I hit the slightest of inclines, my heart rate skyrockets and I have to slow down significantly in order to keep breathing properly. The weirdest thing is that this started happening even before I knew I was pregnant – I just thought I had overdosed on Christmas cookies. Ok, so I did OD on cookies, but still.
Third lesson: it’s so worth it. Being outside and moving makes me feel so good. Beyond the usual endorphin boost, hiking helps my lower back pain, I sleep better, and sometimes it seems to help with morning sickness. Sometimes.
This is my first pregnancy, so I am obviously not an expert, but here are my tips so far:
–Don’t compare yourself to anyone – not to your pre-pregnancy self, not to some other crazy fit pregnant woman, not even to the elderly and infirm who suddenly start passing you on trail.
–Leave your expectations at home! One day you’ll feel like you have wings, and the next you might feel like several vital organs are about to fall out of you and you just have to take it easy. Listen to your body and just enjoy your surroundings and the fact you get to be outside.
-The old “keep your heartrate below 140” rule is outdated, but make sure you don’t push yourself so hard that you can’t talk comfortably – this will happen way sooner than it usually does (damn you, uphills!), so beware.
–Bring more snacks and way more water than you usually do. I even have to bring water on my standard 2.5 mile dog walk down to the river and back, which seems ridiculous but is absolutely necessary.
–Use hiking poles for extra balance, this obviously isn’t the time to slip and fall.
–Carry a running pack without a hip belt (I like the ones from Ultimate Direction) when you can instead of a normal daypack, especially when your belly starts rounding out.
If your pregnancy is anything like mine, pick less crowded trails so there are fewer people around when you puke. At my worst, before I was introduced to the life-saver that is Diclegis, I was throwing up twice per mile. Not my proudest moments.
The loop we did at Oyster Dome last weekend was perfect for me right now. There are some really steep bits from Samish Overlook up to Oyster Dome, but I took it nice and easy – I’ll admit that I’m looking forward to looking obviously pregnant so that when people speed past me, they’ll know I have an excuse and am not merely corpulent and incredibly out of shape.
Welcoming spring on Oyster Dome has become an annual tradition for us – hopefully we’ll be back next year with a baby carrier! This time we brought a stove so we could make soup and just hang out for as long as we wanted in the sun before moving on to the lakes.
The rest of the loop is all flats, rolling hills, and downhill switchbacks, and it felt amazing to really stretch the ol’ legs again. Most of our recent hikes have been to Poo Poo Point – all steep, up and down – so this was a welcome change and gave me a good idea of what types of trails to look for in the months to come.