Adventures in Pregnancy

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I started wondering what the next 9 months were going to be like. What could I do, what couldn’t I do? Would I be sick? Could I hike? Could I ski? Could I do anything fun?????

I did a little bit of research online, trying to find other adventure-mamas-to-be that enjoyed a healthy, active pregnancy. I came across one woman who did a three day backpacking trip at 5 months pregnant…but that was about it for any kind of adventure pregnancy inspiration. I decided to keep track of what I could and couldn’t do and promised myself I’d write this blog post for future adventure prego ladies.

And so here I am at 39 weeks giving you the scoop!

Clothing

Technical clothing proved to be an issue throughout my pregnancy. I wasn’t interested in spend a boat-load of money on techy pieces one or two sized bigger than what I would normally wear, so I made do with what I had. Having a belly band was key, because they don’t make maternity hiking pants!  I used a lightweight pair of OR softshell hiking pants for almost everything. They are really stretchy, and when paired with a belly-band you would have no idea I couldn’t zip them up an inch. I happened to have one long I/O merino wool shirt that didn’t show off any belly skin and one Prana sport-tank that I miraculously was able to stuff my chest into. My OR rain jacket has zippers down the sides, so I was able to zip up the front of my jacket and leave the sides open which proved to be quite handy on rainy days!

Skiing

I was able to ski up until I was about 26 weeks pregnant. Physically I could have skied longer,  but the fact that I could barely zip my bib pants up and it was the middle of April gave me no choice but to hang the skis up. If you’re a bib pant kinda girl, see if you can borrow a jacket with a powder skirt and regular pants with an elastic waist. You’ll be able wear this get up much longer!

I did a bit of ski touring earlier on in my pregnancy and felt fantastic. I noticed a big difference in my lung capacity, so this is where the understanding playmates came in handy, but other than that I felt great.

With such a huge snowpack this year, the backcountry was pretty unstable, so I spent the rest of my ski days at the hill.  In my first trimester, my energy levels were low, so it took a bit of convincing to get me out some days. When I did ski, I stayed well within my limits and abilities. By 6.5 months, I was definitely aware of my body loosening up and wasn’t feeling as stable as normal, so I adjusted my activity level appropriately, and stuck to the groomers.

Climbing

I was pleasantly surprised about how long I was able to climb for. I hung up my rock shoes at 35 weeks. Once again, the climbing I did was well within my limits. I chose to top rope and stuck to 5’6’s and ‘7’s. For me, it was really just about stretching, practicing movements and working my arms a little bit. After a chilled out ski season and the additional weight gain, I was definitely noticing a difference in the strength of my upper body.

I had to borrow a men’s harness, as my women’s specific harness didn’t fit for long. A women’s harness has a higher rise, so once I lost my waist, I needed a harness with a shorter rise that would fit comfortably under my belly.


Your waist is gone – this is the incorrect way to wear your climbing harness!


Ah, that’s much better…and more comfortable!

When belaying, my partner climbed well within his limit, so that the risk of me having to catch a big fall was nil. It wasn’t until 35 weeks when my belly was quite a bit larger that I noticed any discomfort from my harness being weighted. And it was the same time that my belly would sandwich the rope into the rock when I climbed, which was uncomfortable enough for me to call it quits.

I found ledges, overhangs and any other feature that you had to maneuver yourself around extremely difficult, even with a little belly. The balancy, face climbs proved to be much more enjoyable.

Camping

As soon as the weather got nice, we started camping. My first tent sleep was at 24 weeks and my last was at 36. Having a thick, good quality sleeping pad and pillows made all the difference.  A thermarest won’t cut it! Now’s the time to splurge on that Xped 3″ down sleeping mat. One of those coupled with a few pillows and you’re golden! Or, if your tent is big enough and you’re car camping, take that double air mattress. Just remember these are only good in the summer. Spring and fall the temperature drops too much and you’ll freeze sleeping on one of those bad boys.

It is a little more difficult getting out of a tent a few times a night to pee, but if you love camping like I do, you just suck it up.

During week 36 I started having dreams about giving birth in my tent, so that was enough to keep me close to home for the rest of my pregnancy.


Sombrio beach, Vancouver Island.

Hiking

I’m almost 39 weeks and can still manage an easy 3km. Early on in my pregnancy, I got myself a leather pair of Zamberline hiking boots. Hiking while pregnant is much like backpacking. You’re carrying anywhere from 20 to 40 extra pounds with you, so having supportive footwear and hiking poles are key to a happy hiking prego lady.

On week 27 I wore a backpack for the last time. I spent three days hiking and climbing in Skaha and my feet swelled up so bad that it took 3 days to recover. I realized that it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and to take a load off! From then on, Cam carried all my gear, water and food and I just hiked with my camera.


Week 36. The boulder field I decided against hiking. The way up would be one thing, but the way down would have incredibly difficult.


So, I sent the rest of the gang up, and I hung out in the shade and took some pictures.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I’ve noticed my endurance really diminish. I did my last 5 km around 36 weeks and anything more than 2km requires a full rest day afterward. At 39 weeks, I’ve hung my boots knowing I need to conserve as much energy as possible as I’m going to need it for the intense physical activity to come…giving birth!

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Melissa Welsh is a National-Award Winning Master Photographer located in Nelson, BC. 

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