How To Backpack While Pregnant

Or “Beaver Fever”, as my two pregnant companions lovingly deemed our adventure 😉

DSC02742Can you backpack while pregnant? The answer is a resounding YES! In 1977 Donna Satterlee discovered she was pregnant during her Appalachian Trail thru-hike. With her physicians assurance, she finished the trail in six months before giving birth to her daughter, Georgia Maine Satterlee.DSC02795

A couple of weeks ago two pregnant Hot Mamas, Julie from Maine and Alpine Florist, joined me for a short backpacking trip on the Nipmuck Trail near the Massachusetts/Connecticut border. Backpacking while pregnant was unknown territory for us so we had to try this out very carefully. There was some sobbing, throwing up (normal for one mamas pregnancy) and the realization that nothing was the same as before. But the ladies seemed to have a wonderful time on our loop around Breakneck Pond.DSC02729

We started out with hip belts that not only did not fit the current circumference of the gorgeous mommy bellies but felt strange settled below the usual placement. After many pee breaks, which made me feel much better about my own thimble sized bladder, with no pregnancy excuse, the girls came to understand how different their sense of balance was. Luckily our camp was only about six miles in, over moderately easy terrain, so they easily got a feel for their new center of gravity.

DSC02817We settled in at our secluded site and after some fussing with our stoves, we enjoyed our afternoon tea looking out at the pond. Sunset brought a visit from a curious beaver, who swam back and forth in front of our site as we filtered water. The fire crackled as we sang a quiet “happy birthday” to Alpine Florist that included a delicious cranberry/peach/coconut crisp, lovingly baked by our friend Julie (she has a blog too…Food! Fuel! Fun!).DSC02803

The night was cold and we struggled at moments to sleep through the chill despite our gear being more than up to the task. But by morning, even my pregnant companions were ready for the day ahead. There were a few more rocks to navigate on this side of the lake but the ladies took it slow and listened to their bodies, and before we knew it we were out to the road by lunch.DSC02753

Pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you loved to do before pregnancy, after you apply some extra care and thought. If you haven’t backpacked before, then camping without the hike might be a better option.

The happy hot mamas kept their pack weight down (let your fellow hikers help) and we didn’t choose a difficult trail. Pick your most comfortable sleeping equipment (consider Maternity Belly Support and Extra Thick Sleeping Pads), bring lots of food choices and drink plenty of water.

Listen to your body and check with your doctor if you are not sure. The woods can be renewing and exciting during a time when you feel like nothing but a walking incubator, so enjoy responsibly!

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19 thoughts on “How To Backpack While Pregnant

    1. znara

      I couldn’t agree more! When I was pregnant I wasn’t able to backpack due to complications, but walking really got me through it. I am glad that my friends have been more lucky and that I get to experience it with them 🙂

  1. Sarah

    I feel so inspired to do this too now! I am two months pregnant right now and would love to plan a trip for the spring. What kinds of meals did you pack for the mamas? Wondering what kinds of additions and substitutions were made. : )

    1. znara Post author

      I am so glad! We pretty much ate the same as usual, with some additional calories and an extra eye on food safety. I love bagged salmon for breakfast, trail mix for snacks and a nice hot soup made of home dehydrated meat and vegis for dinner. Don’t forget the chocolate too! Almond/peanut butter, candied ginger (for upset tummies),plantain or sweet potato chips, and beef jerky are also favorites of mine. I would also suggest the use of a UV water purifier in addition to your filter to avoid the chemicals and keep the nasty squirmies away 😉 You should have a great time. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

  2. Jenny

    where was most of the weight on the pack? I’m 9 weeks and am anxious about putting weight around my pubic bone. recommendations?

    1. znara Post author

      Congrats!! It is always good idea to talk to your doctor if you feel unsure of what your personal risks are when backpacking or hiking while pregnant. These are only my opinions and experiences. I always keep the weight low, around 25-30 lbs (depending on your weight), not really because of the ability of your pelvis to handle stress (it is very strong and able to handle quite a bit) but more for your comfort. As you begin to show you may not enjoy anything constricting your stomach. Your comfort is going to be the biggest deciding factor. Another option is to keep your backpack around 20-25 lbs which will allow you to wear a day pack and skip the hip belt altogether. If you do wear the hip belt, just wear it a little lower than you usually would. The thing my doctor kept reminding me was that the baby is well protected with lots of cushy amniotic fluid.

  3. Brittany

    Hey Ladies! I am so proud to see those bellies out there. I’m also an avid backpacker and plan to do the Lost Coast in California in a month (at 10 weeks pregnant). My concern here is what to eat! We usually rely on those terrible freeze-dried contraptions, but I’m worried about the high sodium and low fiber/veg content. And since we can’t eat jerky, salami, and have to limit canned fish like tuna, what are some good protein ideas? Thanks for the help!

    1. znara Post author

      Bag salmon or chicken are good options. You can compensate for a little extra sodium by purchasing unsalted nuts and seeds, which are another great source of protein and fat. If you can get your hands on hard boiled eggs, avocados, carrots, apples, and cheese – these keep well depending on the length between resupplies. Nutbutters can break up the monotony too. Eating plenty of fat (olive oil/coconut oil) will help keep you regular with your lack of vegis. You can add fiber in and keep your backpack weight down by dehydrating your own dinners or bringing things like quinoa and dehydrated vegis (which are sometimes available in the spice section of the grocery store or online). We like to make our own sweet potato chips or coconut chips for snacks too. I wouldn’t recommend doing any freezer bag cooking while pregnant. The safety of those plastics when heated is questionable. I hope this helps. Have a great trip!

  4. Allie

    Hey,

    Me and my husband are traveling to Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday to do a 3 night backpacking trip. 4th night we are going to car camp but still hike 2 miles to our campsite. I will be 5 weeks pregnant. We hike all the time. Is it okay to still go backpacking so early in my pregnancy?

    1. znara Post author

      Always check with your doctor if you are concerned. At that early stage you shouldn’t find much discomfort except for possible morning sickness so make sure you bring a lot of candied ginger. The baby is very small and encased in a lot of cushioning fluid to keep it safe. Staying hydrated is important and listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. And enjoy your time outside 🙂

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