Hiking while pregnant is an opportunity to stay active and bond with your baby. Just because you are pregnant, you don’t have to stop doing what you love…it just might look a little different. Today, Steph Hampton, a St. Louis mom of four, is here to share her experiences of exploring outside throughout pregnancy. She’s included practical tips and advice on how to make the experience as smooth as possible!

tips and advice for hiking and getting outside while pregnant

Staying active and getting outside while pregnant

Hiking has always been a huge part of my life and something that brings me great joy. Getting outside and staying active is a major part of who I am. However, being a mom and growing our family is an even bigger part of my life. I knew when I got pregnant that I wanted to find a way to combine these two parts of me, but I wasn’t sure what hiking and getting outside would look like through pregnancy and after my baby was born. 

If you’re reading this with a tiny person doing somersaults in your belly, congratulations on embarking on the wild ride of motherhood. I’m here to spill the beans (or should I say, the trail mix?) on my journey of hiking and staying active outdoors throughout not one, but four pregnancies. As a mother to four young daughters (6yo, 4yo, 2yo & 2 weeks), I have learned the beauty of staying active throughout pregnancy and in those first few months after having a baby. While each pregnancy was different in terms of activity level, it always felt great to be outside in some capacity.

Every step counts

Now, before you imagine a scene from a superhero movie with a pregnant woman scaling a mountain in full gear, let me set the record straight. My hiking experiences were a bit less intense (and much slower) than that (and usually involved a toddler or two), but every step counts! No matter whether you’re hiking in the mountains or taking a stroll through your local park, getting outside and staying active during your pregnancy is so good for you, in so many ways! 

In this post, I’m sharing my insights on why embracing the great outdoors during pregnancy is not only good for your sanity but also a great way to nurture your changing body and help your other kids burn some of that endless energy. We’ll dive into the importance of channeling your inner nature goddess while growing a tiny human. Spoiler alert: It involves more fresh air and less time analyzing the nutritional content of pickles.

Tips for hiking while pregnant

Pregnancy can be scary and daunting. It can be tough not knowing what the future holds. If you’re worried about the logistics of hiking with a baby bump, don’t fret—I’ve got your back (and your front, thanks to the growing belly). I’ll be sharing my own outdoor escapades, along with practical tips to keep you healthy, safe, and feeling like the warrior mama you are.

Here are some tips I have learned throughout my pregnancy journeys. 

1. Always consult with your doctor first

Every pregnancy is different, and every mama is different. While being active can be a huge positive throughout pregnancy, it is always smart to check with your healthcare professional before venturing on a hike. 

Hiking can be fairly low-risk, depending on the trail, and has great physical and emotional benefits! My medical team recommended wearing a maternity support belt as I hike, and that helped my back tremendously as my baby grew. 

If you are on a hike and something is not feeling right, listen to your body and trust your gut. 

2. Choose the right trail and terrain for you

In my first trimester, I typically am a little more dizzy/not feeling as well. So, I like to stick to flat, paved trails to help with my balance. Some of my hiking friends like using hiking poles while pregnant to help with their balance as well. Once I’m past the nausea and entering my second trimester, I love getting back to some of my favorite unpaved trails. 

I also prefer trails that I have hiked on before, and I am comfortable with the terrain. Choosing trails that I know helps me feel mentally prepared to take it on (as I know what to expect) so that I don’t get in a situation that’s a little too much for me. 

Start small and go from there. Take a slower pace and enjoy the beautiful scenery! 

Family Hike at Beckemeier Conservation Area

3. Always bring snacks and water

I’m always hungry, but even more so while pregnant! When hiking pregnant, it’s important to make sure you have plenty of snacks and water to keep you hydrated and happy! My go-tos on the trail are protein bars, apples, oranges, trail mix, or popcorn. I’m usually with one of my kiddos, too, so I always pack more snacks than I think I need!

Mamas need so much water throughout pregnancy, so it makes sense to drink even more while on a hike. I love using a Camelbak for ease of access to water while hiking!

4. Hike with others

Sharing your outdoor experiences with others amplifies the fun! I co-lead a free, hiking group for families once a week where we live. This has helped me tremendously throughout my pregnancies. I get a chance to talk with other mamas and try new trails together. It also holds me accountable to get outside, when I may be feeling nauseous that day or the weather is not favorable. 

There is also peace of mind that if something happened on a trail with my pregnancy, I’d be surrounded by others to help me. Also, hiking with friends is just the best, as well as seeing our kids explore together! 

Nature Group Hike at Queeny Park. If you are local, join our Facebook group at “Nature Play STL”

5. Be aware of your cell phone reception

If I’m alone on a trail, I make sure I have a fully-charged cell phone with me (and sometimes I also bring a battery backup/charger) and I tell my husband my planned route. I text him when I head out on the trail and again when I’m safely back to my car. I choose trails that I am comfortable with (know the terrain and what to expect) and also trails that are within cell reception. 

Just in case, something happens during a hike, I like knowing that I can reach someone for help quickly with my phone. 

6. Wear the right clothes and shoes

I highly recommend dressing as comfortably as you can when hiking while pregnant. Wear breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics to stay cool and dry. Dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes, and don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen for sun protection. 

Also, if you’re hiking a lot while pregnant, you may want to consider investing in supportive footwear. A comfortable pair of supportive and well-fitted shoes is crucial. Supportive hiking shoes or boots will help you with balance and slipping (neither of which is good while pregnant) and keep you more stable so you don’t fall or twist anything. Keep in mind that your feet may swell during pregnancy (and after), so make sure your footwear accommodates these changes. Don’t wear shoes that are too tight, which could be painful and cut off circulation. 

7. Carrying a younger child

If it is okay with your doctor, I still like to wear a baby carrier during pregnancy, especially in the first and second trimesters. At 39 weeks pregnant, my doctor gave me the okay to wear my toddler on hikes to try to get labor started! I went into labor a few days later, so maybe it helped!! 

I was still able to wear my carrier (I really like my Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier) with my larger belly, and the hip strap goes under the baby to keep less pressure off. 

Almost 39 weeks…trying to get labor started!

8. Take your time and listen to your body

Pay attention to how you feel during the hike and take your time. There’s no rush to get to the end of the trail and no award for getting there first! If you start feeling fatigued, dizzy, or experiencing any discomfort, it’s okay to take a break or cut the hike short. Bring food and water on your hikes and take regular breaks to sip and stay well-hydrated. Your body is working hard, and it’s essential to honor its signals.

9. Have a potty plan

Another reason I like to stick to trails I know when I’m hiking while pregnant is because I know where the restrooms are along my route. If you’ve been pregnant before, you know that your baby bump can do a number on your bladder! With the need for more frequent bathroom breaks, it’s better to be prepared and know what to expect. Go before you hit the trail and bring a Kula Cloth with you, in case you need to go along the way. 

10. Be aware of your surroundings

Whether pregnant or not, it’s always important to be aware of what’s going on around you when hiking or out in nature. Keep an eye on the weather forecast before you hit the trail. Unfavorable weather conditions, such as extreme heat, heavy rain, or thunderstorms, can pose risks. Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary medications. And familiarize yourself with the wildlife in the area and take any necessary precautions. While most wildlife will steer clear of humans, it’s best to be aware. Make noise while hiking to alert animals to your presence, and if you encounter wildlife, give them plenty of space.

Other ways to stay active outside while pregnant

Staying active during pregnancy doesn’t always have to involve conquering trails. There are so many enjoyable and low-impact outdoor activities to keep you active outside while pregnant. You could do prenatal yoga outside in a park, go biking on a greenway, or swimming in your local pool. A simple stroll through the neighborhood with the kids after dinner is always a favorite tradition of ours. 

For me, second trimester is a sweet spot when adventuring while pregnant. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, we went bikepacking, backpacking, and tent camping during my second trimester (again, check with your doctor first). An e-bike and a good air mattress were life-savers!! These activities not only kept me moving but also helped us feel a sense of togetherness and created lasting memories before the baby came.

I was thankful for a very healthy pregnancy this time around, which hasn’t always been the case. It felt great to move outside and explore with my family. 

Taking a ride on our Bunch Bike, which has three wheels. It is a great and stable option for riding your bike while pregnant!

Adventures while pregnant

Adventuring does not have to stop when you are pregnant. In fact, it really does get better.

There’s nothing like feeling those precious baby kicks while walking through the woods or doing something fun outside that you enjoy. 

Exploring may look a little different while pregnant (and again once your baby arrives), but sharing your love of hiking with your kids is so special! 

Happy exploring!

About the author

Steph lives in St. Louis with her husband, Mark, their four daughters (ages 6, 4, 2 & 2 weeks), and their funny pup. Steph taught elementary school for five years and became a stay-at-home mom when her first child was born. When the pandemic hit and the playgrounds were closed, she started taking her kids hiking on a different trail each day. Steph is also a NICU mama (her 2nd daughter was born 3 months early). The outdoors has been so healing for her and her family, not to mention fun!

Since the pandemic started, their family has visited over 175 parks and hiked over 200 trails around St. Louis and Missouri. Their family also loves to tent camp, canoe, and bike. Steph has a passion for exploring the outdoors, helping start a free, weekly nature playgroup, and sharing adventure tips with others. When she is not hiking, she loves baking, reading, and dreaming of being a Survivor contestant. 

You can find more from Steph in the following locations:
Instagram: @explorestlparks
RWMC posts: Steph Hampton