In this guest post, Samantha Jenkins, founder of maternity wear brand Mother & Nature, explains the equipment that every pregnant hiker needs.
Hiking while pregnant – things to consider
Walking is a fantastic exercise to do while you’re pregnant. It’s a low-impact, cardiovascular workout that will get your body releasing all those happy hormones (hello endorphins!). And you get the benefit of being outdoors in nature – something which is scientifically proven to boost your mood. But that’s not all: walking is free AND you can take your other children and/or dogs with you. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
But here’s the thing, you really need to have the right equipment. This significantly improves your safety when hiking. This is always important, but all-the-more so when you’re expecting, as you don’t want to put yourself or the baby at risk. The correct kit can also make things a lot more comfortable, especially when that growing bump becomes more cumbersome. If you’re comfortable, you’re much more likely to carry on hiking – meaning you’ll continue to reap all the physical and mental benefits that come with it.
Understandably, you won’t want to spend too much money on outdoor maternity wear. But the good news is that you don’t have to! The list below only features kit that you can use during and after your pregnancy. This makes it a sound long-term investment.
7 things every pregnant hiker needs
1. Hiking boots
Your centre of gravity changes as your bump grows, meaning you’ll likely be a bit clumsy on your feet. Proper hiking boots can do a great deal to help this, as they’re designed for both comfort and support. Hiking boots with a high ankle design are best because they protect your ankles, helping you to avoid any mishaps on uneven ground. The tread on the bottom of hiking boots also provides better grip than trainers or other shoes, ensuring you don’t slip.
Amazingly, your feet can grow a full shoe size when you’re pregnant. If you’re in the market for a new pair of boots, be sure to get your feet measured first.
2. Water bottle and snacks
You really don’t want to become dehydrated during pregnancy because it can have an adverse impact on both you and the baby. When you’re headed out for a hike, take a good, insulated water bottle (or water bladder) with you. Hiking is thirsty work at the best of times, so you’ll need more water than you think. However, water is heavy, and you don’t necessarily want to carry gallons of the stuff. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose a hike where you can refill en route, whether that’s at a café, pub, restaurant or other safe water source.
Along with water, remember to take plenty of snacks to keep your blood sugar stable.
3. A maternity sports bra
Ladies, it’s time to get real: pregnancy hormones play havoc with your bust. That’s why a really good, non-wired maternity sports bra is a must. This will really improve your hiking experience, making all the difference to your comfort levels. There’s no need to splash the cash. You only really need one maternity sports bra. There are lots of options available, and many are designed with breastfeeding in mind. This increases the bra’s longevity, meaning it can be used for your post-natal exercising too!
Hiking is all about dressing in layers. This is especially necessary when you’re pregnant because your body temperature fluctuates more than normal. Hikers often talk about the ‘three-layer system’. This means wearing a base layer, preferably made out of wool or synthetic materials. Then you can throw on a fleece as your mid-layer if you get chilly. A waterproof jacket makes up your final layer, keeping the wind and rain off you. Walking trousers are also a great idea. Not only do they keep you dry and mud-free, they’ll protect your legs from scrapes and stings.
5. A sustainable hiking jacket
Speaking of clothes, lots of people make the mistake of hiking with a heavy jacket. But you’ll become hot way too quickly. Also, the fit might become an issue as you start to grow in size. Really, you want a lightweight, waterproof jacket that adapts to your body, as your pregnancy progresses. Enter the jackets from Mother & Nature! The Mother & Nature’s range has zipped side-panels that literally grow with your bump and then zip back down after the birth. This means you’ll have a year-round hiking jacket, bump or no bump.
Explore Mother & Nature’s range of sustainable maternity wear.
6. Walking poles
Walking poles have become increasingly popular amongst hikers in recent years, and with good reason. They improve balance and stability, providing you with a helping hand on both the uphill and the downhill. They have also been shown to reduce weight-bearing on your hips, knees and ankles. All of these things are incredibly beneficial during pregnancy, as not only are you more wobbly on your feet, your joints are also under greater strain.
7. Sun cream and the 10 Essentials
Finally, be sure to wear sun cream and a hat, even if it doesn’t seem like the sun’s out. Your skin is much more sensitive during pregnancy, so you’ll need to take extra measures against those damaging UV rays. Along with sun protection, don’t forget the other 10 Essentials of hiking safety which you should always take with you and each and every hike.
(Feature image photo credit: Lucas Favre)