Hiking While Pregnant: The Ultimate Trail Guide

Many female outdoor adventurers who have a bun in the oven worry about hitting the trail after becoming pregnant, an understandable concern. But, according to expert advice, hiking while pregnant is not only safe, but may even help improve the mom-to-be’s overall health.

Last Update:

Hiking When Pregnant: Doable?

Wondering how to carry on hiking when you’re expecting? 

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • 11 helpful tips for pregnant women who hike
    • How to get your regular fill of exercise while in the first trimester, second trimester, or third trimester of your pregnancy
    • Advice on pre-hike prep, trail selection, and staying healthy and safe on hikes during pregnancy

For around half the hikers out on the trail, hiking while pregnant may raise some understandable concerns. Is it safe for your baby? Should you take it easy on the trail? Is there anything different I should carry in my backpack? These are all reasonable questions any outdoor enthusiast with a baby bump might be asking.

If you’re an outdoor adventurer, it’s natural to want to stay active in nature after you’ve gotten over the initial excitement of a positive pregnancy test. You want to continue your hiking trips, get some fresh air and physical activity, and get back out on the trail asap. We get it.

But there are a few things to consider before you get back at it. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered in this guide. Read on to answer your questions and soon enough you’ll be back to your usual activities (plus one).

Please note: we aren’t medical professionals, these are just our suggestions as fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Always check with your doctor before attempting any exercises while pregnant (see our first tip!).

Key Takeaways: Safely Hit the Trail During Pregnancy

  • Check with your doctor first – To greenlight your plans
  • Take it easy – Hike short, mellower trails at lower elevations and avoid rough terrain
  • Travel light – Don’t weigh yourself down with a heavy pack
  • Solo is a no-no – Take a friend out with you for safety
  • Remember the essential accessories – Bring trekking poles and your cell phone
  • Stay hydrated – “Camel up” at water sources ad carry plenty of H2O with you
  • Be ready to pee often – And be sure to factor potty breaks into your estimated tip time!

Hiking While Pregnant: 11 Tips

1. Speak to Your Doctor

pregnant woman hiking in snow
Always speak to your doctor about your activity level – every pregnancy is different.

First and foremost, talk to your doctor before hitting the trail. During your earliest appointment, let your healthcare physician know your current activity level, the intensity of your typical hikes, and how you’d like to continue. It’s important to note the impact differences between taking an easy stroll along a paved pathway versus a rough, dirt trail.

Although exercise is often encouraged, it’s important to discuss your specific situation with your doctor, as every pregnancy is different. Something that works well for another mom-to-be may not be the best choice for you. Your doctor may even recommend restricting activity based on certain conditions.

It’s also important to continue the conversation with your doctor during follow-up appointments. Pregnancy changes your body and your activity level may need to evolve as well. 

2. Choose Your Trail Carefully

women hiking along dirt path
Choose trails you already know, its no surprise that your baby bump will throw off your center of gravity!

If you get the green light from your doctor, start with a route you already feel comfortable on and expand from there. Start with shorter hikes and easy courses, nothing too strenuous. As a general rule, avoid trails with sharp or slippery rocks, steep inclines/descents, or river crossings. 

While exploring the unknown is part of the fun of hiking, it’s a better idea to go hiking on a path you already know and love. You don’t want to be surprised with some rock scrambling or narrow ledges. Also, read recent reviews of the trail to ensure you won’t come across any downed trees or rock slides that might be too tricky – or even dangerous – for you to cross.

Pregnancy changes your center of gravity and one small misstep can result in serious injury to you and/or your baby. Your sense of balance won’t be what it was prior to the baby weight, so take extra precautions.

3. Stay at Lower Elevations

pregnant woman hiking along coastal path
Hiking at lower elevations means more oxygen in the air for you and your baby.

The higher you go above sea level, the less oxygen there is in the air. If you’re not getting enough oxygen, it’s possible to cause a condition called hypoxia in both you and your baby.

Health professionals often recommend pregnant women don’t travel higher than 8,000 feet. This also depends on what elevation you live at during the rest of the year. 

4. Pack Carefully

woman sitting on hillside
Keep your backpack weight low (but don’t skimp on the essentials!)

Depending on what stage of your pregnancy you’re at, it’s common sense that you’ll already be carrying around some extra weight. You don’t want to push yourself too hard with too much weight in your backpack. Your heart rate will increase, you’ll exert more energy, and your body will be extra working hard to haul around whatever you’re bringing out onto the trail. 

In fact, consider letting whoever you’re hiking partner shoulder the bag. A friend on the trail has a lot of benefits for a pregnant woman (more on that in a minute!) and one of those is allowing them to take the weight of carrying the gear.

A heavy pack can also throw off your balance, which is already changing throughout your entire pregnancy. 

5. Bring a Hiking Buddy

two women hiking along valley trail
Find a hiking partner to help if something goes wrong.

It’s a good idea to hit the trails with a friend as your pregnancy progresses. This is particularly important at high altitude, if there’s significant elevation gain, and as you get closer to your due date. 

Even if you typically head out on solo treks, it’s an added precaution to ensure you and your baby’s safety just in case something were to go wrong. Your changing body can affect you in unusual ways. You don’t want your blood sugar to drop or your equilibrium to suddenly feel out of whack while you’re out on the trail alone. A friend could assist you or go get more help, if needed. 

Bringing an adventure buddy will also help ensure you don’t overexert yourself. If you can carry on a conversation while hiking, you’re working out at the right level. If you’re out of breath and can’t make chit-chat, you should take the intensity down a notch.

6. Use Trekking Poles/Hiking Poles

Trekking poles can also come in handy when your changing body impacts your balance. Even if you’re not a fan of hiking poles, you should utilize them to help keep you steady, particularly in uneven terrain.

They’ll also be helpful as your joints tend to swell and get sore quicker when you’re carrying the additional baby weight. 

7. Stay Hydrated

female hiker drinking water
Ensuring you keep hydrated while hiking becomes even more important when you are drinking for two!

Staying hydrated is always important while hiking, and even more so if you’re hiking pregnant. This goes double if it’s sunny, humid, and/or hot outside. There are also supplements you can add to your water to help replenish your electrolytes.

You should drink before, during, and after your hike. If you’re out on the trail and feeling thirsty, that’s your body telling you you’re headed down the path of dehydration, so drink up.

Drinking enough water and replenishing your electrolytes will help you avoid muscle cramps. Water also helps your body absorb nutrients, which is important for your baby’s health. It can also help with swollen feet and ankles.

Although it varies based on your own body and diet, it’s usually recommended that pregnant women drink between eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water every day. 

8. Prepare to Pee (Lots)

trail toilet
When nature calls when you are in, well nature, you’ll be grateful if you come prepared.

Pregnant women pee – a lot. So when you’re in the great outdoors and nature calls, it’s best to be prepared. 

Bring toilet paper and/or cleansing wipes, plus a baggy to pack out your trash. Since it’s a little harder for a lady with a pregnant belly to squat (especially if you’re in your third trimester!), consider bringing a Shewee or another female urination device. This might make all the difference when you’ve really got to go while out on a hike.

Expect to take regular potty breaks since – if you’re properly hydrating – you’ll feel the urge to pee multiple times during any lengthy hike. Listen to your body and be prepared to pee.

9. Continue Snacking

Packed lunch containers of trail mix
Calorie-dense foods like nuts and trail mix make for excellent on the go snacks.

Don’t forget, you’re eating for two now. If you feel hungry, munch on a granola bar or a pickle dipped in peanut butter, if that’s what you’re craving. Whatever you snack on, do it often enough to sustain your energy levels for the entirety of your hike. 

Your energy may drain faster than normal because your body is working harder than normal. You’re growing a little human, that’s hard work!

Eat high-calorie foods before, during, and after your hike. Snacks that replace your electrolytes are ideal as you exert energy on your trek. 

10. Bring Your Cell Phone

Woman using cell phone on hiking trail up mountains
Taking your cell phone is handy for photos but more importantly in case of emergency.

While some people like to leave their cell at home when they head out into the wilderness, you should bring it with you, just in case. This gets more important as you get closer to your due date. 

Remember to turn on your location settings before heading out on your selected route. But don’t count on having a signal, have a backup plan to call for help, like Personal Locator Beacon or a satellite messenger (find one of these in Best GPS for Hiking).

It’s also a good idea (pregnant or not) to have a paper map, know the surrounding trails, and have at least a general sense of direction and identifying markers in case you get turned around. 

11. Listen to Your Body

pregnant woman hiking coastal trail
Listen to your body and be prepared to shorten your hike if need be.

Remember to rest along the way. You don’t want to push yourself too hard and exhaust yourself, which might be easier to do during your first trimester, when you’re still in the mindset of tackling tough trails. 

You’ll be going at a slower pace because of the added weight you’re carrying, so give yourself extra time to finish the hike. 

If your hips or lower back are aching, consider wearing a support belt. If your feet are swollen, consider sizing up your shoe. Stretch your feet and move your ankles during rest breaks.

Most importantly, if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, chest tightness, abdominal pain, or other worrisome symptoms, hit the brakes and call your doctor. 

Hiking When Pregnant: Doable! 

If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, then hiking while pregnant can be safe, fun, and healthy! Staying active by hitting the trails also might be just what you need during your pregnancy. 

Hopefully our guide and these special considerations will help you make the most out of your hiking experience.

If you liked the article or have any questions, please use the comments box below. And if you know other women who might appreciate these tips, feel free to share this guide!

Last update on 2022-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sara Hall is a journalist, photographer, and freelance writer in her professional life, and is passionate about camping, hiking, and backpacking in her personal life. Growing up in the rural mountains of Northern California, a love of the outdoors was instilled in her at an early age.

Her favorite adventures are often solo backpacking treks out in the wilderness. Or hiking most weekends on local trails. Or with friends and family discovering new campsites. As long as she’s exploring, that’s her new favorite trip.

For Sara, one of the best moments of every journey is turning a corner or climbing above a ridge and an epic view reveals itself. That moment is one-of-a-kind and no two people experience it the same way. That’s yours and yours alone.

She also loves to travel and take local and long-distance road trips.

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