When I embarked on The Adventures in Parenthood Project, I had a lot of questions. A few of them had to do with wondering what I would be able to do in the outdoors and for exercise while I was pregnant. To begin finding some answers, I included a section in the survey I conducted, wherein I asked women questions about resources they were able to find on what they could do while they were pregnant, which activities they enjoyed, how supported they felt, and more. Of the 442 survey respondents, 60.8% responded to the questions, which gave me a lot to work with.
I won’t divulge into those statistics today (though I bet you’re wondering what I came up with!). But what I will get into briefly are my own thoughts on the topic now having the perspective of being pregnant myself. Prior to becoming pregnant, I was curious to know both what I would be allowed to do in terms of outdoor activities, and what I would want to do. I discovered, of course, that these are two very different things and it is entirely up to the individual woman to decide how she will navigate those waters.
I thought that being active in the outdoors would be something I’d fight for through my pregnancy because it is so important to me. It still is, but the main thing I have learned through this process is that, while I’m growing a baby, I just need to be doing what I can to ensure that I am able to stay active and healthy. Sometimes that is outside, but most of the time it is not.
I definitely enjoyed hiking in the summer, but learned the hard way when too much is too much (read How (Not) to Cross a Glacier in a Thunderstorm While Pregnant for more). Now I get my fresh air mainly through walking and the odd ski, and otherwise find that the best workout regiment for me has been going to the gym three times a week, where I alternate an hour’s worth of cardio on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike, and then finish with some arm weights and a good stretch. Modified yoga at home has also been lovely (though I yearn for a more rigorous and challenging practice!). All in all, if you looked at my lifestyle the past 4 months, you’d never know that I’d climbed mountains, backpacked thousands of kilometres, or skied in the Arctic.
But, it really doesn’t matter. If anything, pregnancy has further challenged me to really let go of identifying myself by what I do. This isn’t easy in a community that is on hyper-drive when it comes to mountain sports. And at the same time, I have relished the excuse to just ‘be’ and to do what my body is telling me to do. Often it’s telling me not to be so hard on myself.
I have to admit, though: I can’t wait to crack into our gear room again. To go sorting through sleeping bags and hiking poles, harnesses and camping stoves. To breathe in the smells of the outdoors without having to worry about how my body will hold up. But I know these last few months of pregnancy are precious. In just a few months, it will have been well worth the wait for the little package we are expecting.
For now, I just need to take good care of myself, and remember that the next outdoor adventure will always be waiting for me.
A Note on Finding Your Own Limits: To find out what my body could handle during pregnancy, I mostly just tuned into how it was feeling while I was exercising and consulted some sources on the web. I know just how hard I can push myself, so I had to be extra cautious in keeping activities moderate and easing into them slowly. This is something I continue to do – ongoing monitoring of my breathing, my heart rate, my level of exhaustion and any warning signs that I need to ease off.
Overall, I have learned that a lot of this depends on how active you were before you were pregnant, so each woman will have to determine this for herself. Consult your doctor if you are at all concerned. Mostly, remember that no matter what you were able to do before you were pregnant, your body has completely transformed in its pregnant state, so you really cannot depend on “well, I was able to do this before!” Be mindful of how you are feeling and give your body a break when you need it.
For more on this topic, check out the section “Being Active During Pregnancy” in my Resources.