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Can You Go Backpacking While Pregnant?

Safe, Healthy Backpacking and Hiking for Pregnant Women

Backpacking is a healthy activity for staying in good physical condition during pregnancy. It increases the heartbeat and rate of blood circulation in the body, reducing any swelling. However, if you are pregnant, you should consult with your doctor before planning any backpacking hikes or excursions. Even if you are in excellent health, your lung capacity is normally lower than usual during pregnancy. Of course, your weight increases, which requires your system to work harder as you hike.

Throughout your pregnancy, you should always pack extra-light for a backpacking trip. Most pregnant women find it best to plan only short to moderate-length hiking and camping trips. If you purchase top-quality sleeping bags, sleeping pads and backpacks that are all lightweight, this is smart planning. Particularly during your last trimester, using a backpack hip belt is often impossible. You should give heavy items like portable cooking devices to your partner or another hiker who is not pregnant.

Planning a Backpacking Trip During Different Stages of Pregnancy

During the First Trimester

Many women experience queasiness and nausea during the first trimester of pregnancy. For this reason, it is often difficult to know what foods to pack for a backpacking trip. However, the best plan is to choose lightweight food items like beans, olives, nuts and both fresh and dried fruits. Small containers of peanut or almond butter are also good choices. Packages of small bread slices, flatbreads or mini-muffins are good to include. Chocolate is also a popular food to pack.

Be prepared to experience greater difficulty when hiking than you did before carrying your unborn child. It is normal to become out of breath fairly easily during the early stages of your pregnancy. Even if you are physically fit and exercise regularly, you are likely to experience shortness of breath when hiking.

It is not uncommon to have breathing difficulty during your seventh week of pregnancy when hiking up an incline. Yet if you backpack on terrain with the same degree of steepness during week 24, expect a pleasant surprise. At this stage, breathing normally is common. One pleasant aspect of camping during your first trimester is that you will probably sleep quite soundly and comfortably. Just be sure to pack an ultra-soft sleeping pad

During the Second Trimester

During months 4 through 6 of your pregnancy, both hiking and sleeping should be relatively easy. However, be sure to pack light. Using your backpack hip belt strap is most likely not possible during your second trimester. Even if the strap still fits, it can crowd the growing baby and uterus. At this point, your backpack shoulder straps should be carrying the pack’s weight. It is best to include lightweight items only in your pack, such as clothes, small water bottles and snacks.

It is good to take advantage of being able to enjoy hiking and camping during this trimester. Since you are comfortable exercising and sleeping, backpacking trips are healthy activities. You benefit from breathing fresh air as you hike, eat and sleep in the great outdoors. At the same time, you get away from your busy home lifestyle. Hiking and camping trips allow time for planning ahead for the future fun of backpacking with your small child. Helping your little one understand and appreciate the wonders of nature is a rewarding experience to look forward to.

During the Third Trimester

Can you go backpacking while pregnant, even during the last trimester? If you go backpacking during your third trimester, it is helpful to borrow some hiking clothes from larger female backpackers. Girlfriends are always happy to lend their hiking clothing, gear and support. They know that this will help you avoid spending for larger-size hiking items during pregnancy than you normally wear. Also, hiking clothes are difficult to find in your current size. After all, what sportswear company produces backpacking clothes in maternity sizes?

Getting a good night’s comfortable sleep is not often possible even at home during the last months of pregnancy. For this reason, you know not to expect blissful nights of sleep while backpacking and camping. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees helps. Yet just spending your days in the fresh air of hiking trails or gorgeous mountain areas is uplifting. Sleeping under the moonlight and stars is also inspiring, improves nighttime rest, and is  revitalizing.

Ideal Backpacks for Pregnant Women on Hiking and Camping Trips

Certain brands and styles of hiking backpacks have designs that are well-suited for use by pregnant women. The following models are recommended for women who hike and camp during the months prior to giving birth:

1.  Center of Gravity Backpack Designs. As a pregnant woman who loves hiking, camping and the outdoor life, you need a specific backpack design. It is essential that your loaded pack relieves stress on your back muscles. Backpack designs like the lightweight 44-liter Aarn Peak Aspiration pack are good choices.

When pregnant, your center of gravity has shifted to balance your “bump.” Consequently, you need a relatively short pack to lessen stress and strain on your shoulders. Carrying a shorter than standard pack will also help prevent you from leaning forward while walking. Standard packs extend all the way upward to you head. This is a good design if you are using a hip belt.

However, the use of a hip belt is not often possible or recommended when you are pregnant. A shorter pack is best, since it will help shift the pack’s weight to your pelvis. This pack from Aarn and other similar designs focus on “center of gravity” packing. Placing heavier items near the bottom of your pack makes your torso’s strength and stability much better during pregnancy.

2.  Ergonomic Backpack Designs. Light to medium-weight backpacks for women with ergonomic designs are desirable. Packs like the Fjallraven Women’s Kaipak are often available with 28-liter ( L), 38 L and 58 L volumes. Their shortened back length and ergonomic shoulder strap and hip belt features offer extra spinal and shoulder comfort.

B00T22CAXC - Fjallraven - Kaipak 38W

Some brands and models include attachment areas for trekking poles. These poles are especially helpful for maintaining good balance during hiking. This is essential during the latter stages of pregnancy. Some packs are also suitable for using hydration systems.

Most of these backpacks are top-loading styles, which is very helpful for pregnant hikers. Many also offer a chest strap and side compression straps for extra security and stability. They have an abundance of exterior zippered pockets for carrying snacks, water and other small necessities.

3.  Well-Ventilated and Adjustable Backpacks. A lightweight backpack that is well-ventilated and easy to adjust is a wise choice for women in general. Especially during pregnancy, a versatile pack of medium height enables you to rearrange packed items easily. A design similar to the Osprey Women’s Renn 65 Pack has excellent ventilation to keep snack food fresh.

B07N7PJR48 - Osprey Packs Renn 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

This type of pack also keeps clothing and other items from mildewing during hot and humid or wet weather. It is constructed especially for women hikers and campers with a comfortable contoured hip belt and shoulder straps. This design also enables you to adjust the suspension of the back panel to match the length of your torso.

Many backpacks of this type include a compartment for carrying your sleeping bag. They also have straps for securing a sleeping pad and a rain cover that is removable. An important and useful feature of this backpack style, especially for pregnant women, is the inside sleeve for the hydration reservoir that is compatible with a 3-liter reservoir.

4.  Small, Compact Backpacks. Especially during the third trimester of pregnancy, many women need to carry a small, lightweight and compact backpack on hiking trips. Larger designs put too much weight and stress on their backs and shoulders. A simple but efficient smaller pack like the Dakine Women’s Mission Pro 25L Pack or a similar design is ideal.

This convenient pack style usually includes a drinking tube sleeve that is insulated and located in the shoulder strap. The interior offers a main compartment with side pockets and pouches for packing small items. It includes a padded hip belt that is useful during part of the first stages of pregnancy. There is also a helpful rescue whistle located on the sternum strap for safety.

B07DMM6DZ6 - Dakine Mission Pro Backpack 25L

During the third trimester, many pregnant women backpackers purchase a Dakine spine protector. This helps guard your back from impact when wearing your pack as you hike over rough or uneven terrain. The smaller volume capacity of this backpack prevents you from carrying too heavy a load during your pregnancy.

B01H3G30KU - DAKINE DK Impact Spine Protector

Tips for Pregnant Women Backpackers from Experienced Hikers

Some helpful tips for pregnant women who take backpacking trips from experienced trekkers and campers include following:

Refrain from Over-Exertion. Plan for plenty of breaks during your hiking days. Exercising in the great outdoors is healthy as long as you are careful not to overdo it. Packing light and pausing along the trail for some water and a short rest from trekking is refreshing. It keeps you from tiring and feeling stressed or depleted.

Stay Well-Hydrated. When you drink water regularly throughout the day, you avoid dehydration. Staying hydrated also increases your energy and alleviates aching muscles after a day on the trail. Even in a moderate climate, you should drink at least 10 to 12 cups of water daily. It is best to camp near drinking water sources for easily replenishing your supply.

Remember to Eat for Two. When packing hiking food and snacks, think of that special little person developing inside of you. Along the trail, you want to be sure to get enough healthy nutrition for you and your baby. Foods high in protein and fat are good for strength and building muscle tissue. Stash some snacks near the top of your pack or in its exterior pockets for easy access.

Compensate for Any Balance Issues. Since your physical balance is probably not the best during pregnancy, compensate by using trekking poles. Also, be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots that fit well and provide excellent support.

Conclusion

Can you go backpacking while pregnant? Yes, women do definitely enjoy the healthy benefits of backpacking and hiking excursions during pregnancy. However, they need to pack light, carry nutritious snack foods and take short breaks along the trail. If you, your partner or hiking friend is now pregnant, just be sure to hike less strenuously than you normally do.

First of all, while pregnant, choose a lightweight, compact backpack and pack only the essential gear, clothing and supplies. Take plenty of rest breaks, stay hydrated and use trekking poles to maintain good balance. Trek at a relaxed pace, allowing you and your growing baby to enjoy the many vitalizing benefits of nature. Stay healthy, fit and happy while you backpack safely in the glorious great outdoors.