Walking is a great way to improve your fitness, de-stress and keep active. If, like me, you love a good hike, there’s no need to stop once you become pregnant. However, you might find that you need to make a few allowances to make sure that you stay safe and carry on enjoying a good walk. I suggest that if you didn’t go hiking before pregnancy that you start doing 10k hikes over hills and yonder.
Not only does it give you a low-impact, cardiovascular workout that releases all those happy endorphins, but you also get the benefit of being outdoors and in nature. Did you know that it has now been scientifically proven that spending time in nature improves your mood? Walking is free, and you can take your other children and/or dogs with you, and you really are onto a winner.
Considerations For Maternity Hiking
However, hiking with a growing bump does mean you need to take a few things into consideration. It may feel mad to spend money on maternity outdoor-wear, (of course you can wear my outdoor maternity clothes after birth) but being comfortable will make the difference between you sticking with your outdoor exercise. Also you will be getting all the physical and mental benefits, or giving up because it is just too uncomfortable.
Know your limits
I like to stay active, but even I know not to push myself too far. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, ease back and cut short your route. I also find that I have to go a little slower these days and take more breaks. Surprisingly which is actually quite enjoyable as you notice so much more than when you’re rushing along. Of course as you progress through your pregnancy you are naturally going to gain extra weight. This extra weight from the baby developing will of course take extra toll on your body.
You will burn calories quicker, you will start to dehydrate at a faster rate and the added weight will also effect your joints. This is especially true for the knees, just adding 10 pounds two your normal body weight can increase the pressure to your knees by 30 to 40 pounds with every step taken. (source) Also you need to take into consideration increased recovery times.
I especially find myself short of breath when pregnant so I tend to avoid hilly routes. Likewise, I avoid any walks that have lots of stiles, boggy or uneven ground or other hazards to negotiate. Low level walks, for example along canal towpaths, around lakes and sticking to valley floors can be just as interesting as more challenging hikes. Ideally you want to be walking/hiking with someone else just in case. (please stick to the Covid restriction in your area)
It’s important to stay hydrated at any time, but it’s especially vital when pregnant. Your temperature can be higher than normal due to an increased metabolism, making dehydration a real risk. When being active make sure you are taking enough fluid on board. Keeping a flask of water with you at all times is essential when walking. A steady supply of high energy snacks is also good for keeping energy levels up.
As I mentioned above, your body temperature increases when pregnant so keeping cool can be a challenge. Wearing several thin layers helps regulate your temperature as you can add or remove them as you get hotter or colder. A hat is also a good idea if it’s sunny and try to avoid the warmest part of the day (usually between 12-3pm).
Having a bump throws your centre of gravity forward, making it a challenge to maintain good posture. To avoid (even more) aches and pains it’s a good idea to think about your alignment when walking. If you use a rucksack, make sure it is correctly fitted (ask at an outdoor shop if you’re unsure) and don’t try to carry too much weight. Also, it might be a good idea to use walking poles as these can help you keep a more upright position and stay balanced.
Thanks to Lauren the Helpful Hiker for this guest blog.
You can follow the Helpful Hiker for camping advice, walks and family days out, she has ideas and inspiration to help everyone enjoy the great outdoors.
You can also read Lauren the Helpful Hikers review of the Mother & Nature range
The Hiking Kit For Pregnant Mums to Be
The good news is that our list only features kit you can use after, as well as during, pregnancy.
This tops our list as it is a question of safety as well as comfort. As your centre of gravity changes with your bump, you may find you are a little clumsy on your feet. Hiking boots, especially those with a high ankle design, will not only give you support on uneven ground, but the tread will help prevent you slipping and sliding. Remember to get your feet measured if you are buying new boots, as feet can grow a full shoe size when you are expecting!
Dehydration is a big no-no during pregnancy so make sure you have a good, insulated water bottle. You will need more water then you think, but as you really don’t want to be hauling heavy bottles with you, if you are going on a longer hike, choose one that has places where you can either buy water or fill your bottle with water from a safe source. (Slightly off-subject, but do bring snacks as well to keep your blood sugar stable!!)
A Really Good Maternity Sports Bra:
Do I really need one? I hear you ask. The answer is yes! A good, non-wired maternity sports bra will make all the difference to your comfort levels once the pregnancy hormones start playing havoc with your bust! You only really need one, and many brands now have designs that can be also be used during breastfeeding, making them perfect for your post-natal exercising too!
Layers Maternity Jacket
The great British weather’s ability to go from summer to winter in the space of an hour, means you really need layers when hiking anyway, but add fluctuating body temperatures due to pregnancy, and they become a necessity. A fleece and a waterproof jacket are always a good idea. You can throw the fleece on if it gets a bit chilly, while a jacket will keep the wind and rain off you and bump. Look at it as an investment. The Mother & Nature’s range has zipped side-panels that literally grow with your bump and then zip back down after the birth. While we are on the subject of clothing, maternity walking trousers are another good investment. They will keep you dry and mud-free, and protect your legs from scrapes, stings and insects! Our Maternity Fleece
Lots of outside bloggers like Kate Limburn @Babyroutes and Monica from mammaonthetrail.com recommend one or even two walking poles, especially if you there are hills on your walking horizons. They will give you extra support when you are going uphill, while on the way down they will not only steady you, but also reduce the amount of jarring you do to your knees and hips. Think of them as an alternative to a helping hand!!
One for the road: Remember your skin is much more sensitive during pregnancy, so don’t forget to put a hat and SPF on if you are hiking in the summer. Remember we ship our outdoor maternity clothes to the USA.