The Pregnant Hiker’s Dilemma
So, I’m 9 weeks pregnant!
Shhh, I haven’t spilled the beans to everyone yet, just my immediate family. I would loooooove to hike the A.T. pregnant! What better way to introduce a new life onto this Earth than by walking it during the majority of my pregnancy? However, I’m also a health-conscious person who likes to be prepared and wants to check up on my growing fetus throughout my pregnancy. Full disclosure, I was hoping to get pregnant before my hike (crazy, I know). I only started planning the hike in October, while I’ve been hoping to get pregnant since August. . I want to be honest with my healthcare providers and have their support, but I received the advice that anyone would expect: Hold off the hike and stay close to home. I could section hike the northern parts of the A.T., but even then, I probably wouldn’t start in March, with the winter forecast Maine is getting. I completely agree with the importance of “continuity of care,” but because so much is virtual now, why can’t I go to a free clinic in North Carolina (or wherever I’ll be) and have them fax a sonogram over to my OB? To be fair, I have yet to meet with my OB. Just my primary physician, who doesn’t think I’ll get thrilling feedback about my plan to head down to Georgia as I start my second trimester.
What do I do?
I read all the blogs about pregnant women hiking the A.T. (there aren’t that many) and some of them section-hiked while others did a thru-hike. I’d like to be one of those thru-hikers because of my time constraint (I’m starting school again in the fall or next spring, and of course I’ll have a newborn by September) and to be an inspiration. I believe that I can stay healthy and gain the right amount of weight during my hike/pregnancy. So, I feel that from a spiritual perspective, I shouldn’t give up on my goal of hiking the A.T. pregnant. My doctor didn’t call me crazy, just that if I hike this way, I won’t be getting the kind of care that I would ideally like during a pregnancy. Which is fair, considering all the research I’ve done pre-pregnancy. And the public health figure I hope to be one day. But maybe getting back to nature and proving that all you need for a healthy pregnancy is good fats and proteins, along with vitamin D and exercise, will be the beginning of my impact on young women struggling to change the current stigma of pregnancy. Not that my provider advocates for me to sit on the couch. On the contrary, she did CrossFit throughout her entire first pregnancy. I’m not a doctor or an NP (yet) so I can’t argue that I’ll take care of myself, but how much will I really need to go into the office during my pregnancy?
Almost threw my dream out the window.
As I left the doctor’s office my heart was a bit sunken because I had to either call my mom and husband and tell them that I’m not hiking; that I have to set up a new plan or, stick to my first grandiose idea and be that crazy girl who defied her doctor’s recommendation and started her pregnancy with nearly no supervision or care. To be fair, some women don’t do pregnancy through the conventional healthcare system and bear perfectly healthy babies. I’d like to find a balance, preferably without putting my providers in shock. How do I go into the office (today, my appointment is at 3pm) and say, “hey, I want to hike the entirety of the A.T. during my second and third trimesters – up until I nearly give birth.” I feel shaky just typing this. Is it easier to lie and say that I’m travelling or going on a road trip? While I sound confident on paper, I don’t always express myself clearly and strongly in front of figures of authority. Nevertheless, I’ve always been that girl who goes out and does her own thing, regardless of other people’s reactions. I will make a plan, to go into free clinics or Planned Parenthood and track my pregnancy along the A.T. This is what I want to do. I can’t believe I was considering, for even a second, not hiking this spring.
My fetus at 8 weeks:
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You’re very inspiring! Can’t wait to read more!!
So excited to read your first article. I can’t wait to hear more about your adventure as you plan for this epic hike and a baby!! Happy Trails xo
This sounds like a terrible idea, and a perfect recipe for a miscarriage/premature baby with health issues. Most people can’t consume enough calories to support their own needs let alone a developing baby.
This is so interesting, I wish you the best! I wondered what people do in cases like this, it’s good to hear you’re doing what you think you’re capable of.
To be honest, most people are living off of junk food on the trail, which is barely enough to nourish someone on a daily basis, let alone on the AT. A diet full of carbs and convenience food is bound to get anyone in trouble. The fact is, you’re missing the point of this article, which is to hike the trail with a healthy and conscious mindset. Don’t be so quick to judge, especially since she is planning on consuming plenty of nutrient dense foods and tracking her child’s growth. She is being responsible and cautious, so instead of trying to scare her with uneducated threats, consider the possibility that there is a better way to hike the AT, and that she is just the first to actually attempt it.
I can’t wait to read your next post Rotem!!
To risk possibly killing your unborn child on what is essentially a long vacation, is extremely irresponsible and immoral.
There is no doctor on earth that will tell you hiking 20+ miles per day late in a pregnancy is a good idea. These are not uneducated threats, it’s science.
Congratulations, first of all! 🙂 A new life!
The 2-book series that gave me “the bug” to hike back in my teens was Walk Across America…I want to say the lady in there finished her lengthy thru-hike pregnant. Just make sure to listen to your body & always put your kid first. I’ve met other pregnant athletes…just listen to your doctors & be willing to place personal dreams & goals 2nd.
My late wife (died in her early 40s from cancer) knew on every level that she had become a mom from the first moment the pregnancy test said she was pregnant. She’d have given her life for our daughter & her health…our daughter’s now a thoughtful 15-year-old & freshman in high school.
Me on the other hand? It never sank in that I had become a dad until 6 weeks after the baby was born & she got super sick (RSV)…& I was like, “Oh, my God, I am responsible for a human life. If I don’t do something, this kid’s in trouble.” From that moment on, I became a parent on every level.
Best wishes! 🙂
Cheers to your adventurous spirit! You can always make adjustments as you are on the journey and things are unfolding. The concerns people express above seem to assume that you have to approach your hike in the same way as others do, in terms of diet, mileage, etc., and I don’t agree. I also don’t feel that finishing the whole trail in one season is as important as getting out there for a while and taking it all in. Take care of yourself as best you can and keep us posted!
If there is anyone who obtains the capabilities to conquer this trip, it’s you.
I have so much faith in you as you take on this trip and cannot wait to see what you end up accomplishing! ❤
My own concerns would not be missing doctor visits (up to 26 weeks with a normal pregnancy you are only going every 4 weeks to the doctor, 26-32 weeks it’s every three weeks and after that it’s once per week) but with the other natural things everyone encounters on trail – the inability to eat sufficient nutritious foods, exhaustion, potential for hypothermia and most of all the risk of falls. I’ve yet to see a hiker that hasn’t taken a spill or two which could be catastrophic for an expectant mother. In your second trimester you will feel pretty good but by the third you will be tired and your center of gravity will change as your belly grows putting you at even higher risk for falls, especially as you hit the northern states. Proceed with caution, listen to your body and keep your plans open. Best of luck!
I applaud your goal. However, as others have posted, you need to temper your goals with reality. Enjoy your thru hike, hike your own hike. Eat GOOD food. Rest when you are tired. Don’t expect to complete 20-25 miles/day every day. Be satisfied with your journey no matter how far you travel. Many women have great pregnancies and are able to be very active most of the pregnancy. Others have issues that are just not compatible with camping and hiking daily. The other issue to consider is that IF something goes wrong, time is essential both for you and the baby.
I’d suggest you plan section hikes, with breaks of a few days to a week. You need to develop an emergency plan, just in case. How fast can you be rescued? Will someone be meeting you regularly along the way?