Bump On The Trail: Hiking While Pregnant

After my revelation that I can do all the things—grow in my career, be an outdoorsy badass, launch a startup and in the near future become a mom—there was certainly nothing that was going to keep me from hitting the trail as often as I could.

Fascinated by the idea of a tiny peanut inside of me, I couldn’t help but daydream of holding my growing belly atop cliffs of the Columbia Gorge, staring into the depths of the forest and feeling the mist of waterfalls as I stood before them.

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Our three-day sea kayaking trip around the San Juan Islands and Jefferson Wilderness Backpacking trip were planned back in spring and nothing about my being pregnant was about to impact my intention to accomplish these; we simply had to re-think what some of that might look like in terms of preparing and packing. And did our adventure planning stop? Absolutely not! We planned a week of winter glamping packed with snowy adventures in Whistler and plotted out our hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing goals of the fall and winter.

Then the wheels really started turning...

I began to imagine how my wolfpack might grow and evolve. Who would be the faces of our new friends—the parents who we might raise our children with, specifically on the trail. How would I find them?

And then I thought about gear and clothing. In what ways would I need to modify my packlist? What types of clothing would I need to add? How would I figure out sizing since there are so many different body types and every woman’s pregnancy needs and weight gain can vary drastically from one another. Are there even brands that make maternity specific outdoor apparel? Or would i need to sleuth out the hacks that women before me have done to make adventuring with a bump on the trail possible?

Then finally, the big day! Not our baby’s birth day, but the day we bring her out into the outdoors to experience all that mother nature has to offer. What type of gear should I be researching for adventuring with a baby? What brands hold up well and can be bought second hand, and what might I prefer to buy new? What are the essentials for hiking with a baby or toddler? How will our packlist modify for camping and Airstream glamping?

Oh, and my wellness care. What types of questions should I be asking my midwife? Who can I ask for guidance around planning my adventures. Sure, nothing is going to stop this mama bear to be from adventure—but I should plan wisely, make sure that I am informed of what’s happening in my body and how that will impact my needs.

So. Many. Questions.

The thing is, the more I began to research, the more I realized that there wasn’t a ton of information out there. Sure, there are a handful of niche articles that gently brush the topic, you know that one article that checks the “we wrote something for pregnant women in the outdoors” box, now let’s move onto more interesting things. Yet, pregnancy is fascinating; I’ve never learned so much about my body and life as I have during these past several months! Sadly, I wasn’t having much luck in finding any one source take a deep dive on on the topic. Pregnancy occupies nine-ish months of our life. While this may seem relatively short to some, if you are an active and pregnant person it’s at this time you need to see articles that support and guide you through this deeply special, but wildly unknown time in your life. Pregnancy in itself is a huge chapter in a person’s life and how we treat ourselves during this time will have an everlasting impact on future chapters. And then there is postpartum: when we are with this sweet, new human in the world, we absolutely need resources and guidance to help us have confidence and learn the skills we will need to be the newest version of ourselves!

Pregnancy is often viewed and treated as an illness with symptoms. Society often says that women should take it easy during pregnancy, don’t overdo it, stay inside….stop doing anything fun and just sit and gestate. That advice is all all wrong! Yes, there are people who do need to take it easy during pregnancy, and things can indeed come up; in fact there were moments for me where I had to take a break or significantly scale down activity levels. But that doesn’t have to be the norm. If you’ve been active, you can continue being active and at some point modifications might need to be considered. We should be encouraged, not discouraged, to keep on adventuring with our baby bumps displayed in all their glory on the trail!

Walking while pregnant has tons of health benefits, so why not take that baby bump onto the trail for a hike:

  • Great way to get fresh air, improve your strength and get a good cardio workout

  • Relieves stress and gives your brain some time to decompress

  • Lowers blood pressure, which lowers the risk of pre-eclampsia

  • Regulates blood sugar levels, which decreases chances of gestational diabetes

  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight for both mom and baby

  • By keeping your blood flowing and hip and leg muscles toned and flexible, you can help alleviate some of the aches and pains of your growing and expanding body while also preparing your body for an easier and faster labor  

  • Exercise causes your body to release endorphins and it’s not just the mama who reaps the rewards of this—while her mood is boosted, those very same endorphins make their way to the baby stimulating healthy development, with the brain as the primary target, making them smarter.

Although I’m no expert in pregnancy, I realized that the best I can do to positively impact the wellness of others around me is to start the conversation. My advice and tips may not be perfect, but during my pregnancy I’ve had a ton of time to journey within. It’s not about acting in perfection; it’s about accepting our imperfection, waking up to the realizations of knowing that we don’t know what we don’t know and then having the courage to start doing the work, sharing our experience and owning our voice.

For me this meant this translated into two immediate actions:

  • Share my own experiences, including my research and recommendations

  • Shed more light on other amazing mamas with their bumps and babies on the trail

Stay tuned mama bears! Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing posts to touch on all the things I’ve mentioned above! If there is a topic you’d like to hear more about, or a person or organization you think needs to be highlighted, let us know send us an email! Additionally, I’ve created a instagram account, @bumponthetrail, to highlight women we can look to for inspiration to get us on the trail and keep us there, bumps and all, with the hashtag #bumponthetrail to be featured.

See you on the trail,

Dayna Del Mar