Hiking While Pregnant

With a few precautions, expecting hikers can hit the trail.

Michigan's Isle Royale National Park had long been on my dream list, so when I got an invitation to do a 5-day trip there, I wasn't about to let being 7 months pregnant stop me. Sure, I was nervous. But my doctor gave me the green light, so off I went. Turns out I never felt so strong and healthy and proud. The key is to do it right.

  • Check with your doctor before any sort of backwoods trip, and ask how much weight you can safely carry on your back. My doctor said 20 pounds would be fine, since I'm accustomed to carrying loads. Your friends will have to pick up your slack; repay them by naming your child after them.
  • Once you're really showing, forget about fastening your hipbelt: It's uncomfortable for you and baby. Just let the pack's weight hang from your shoulders, and convince someone to give you a back rub at the end of the day.
  • Eat well. Think quality and quantity, and pack fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Drink lots of water, but only filtered or boiled. Don't use iodine.
  • Remember to pack your prenatal vitamins.
  • Invest in a super-thick sleeping pad, and pack a pillow.
  • Use trekking poles for better balance.
  • Wear boots with good ankle support.
  • Don't push yourself too hard, and don't expect to hike as fast or as far as you did before you had a baby on board.
  • Have an emergency bail-out plan. Make sure you know the quickest way out of the woods and the location of the nearest hospital.