Being pregnant can sometimes be a lot of work, as pregnant women are frequently told what and what not to do. Whether it’s avoiding raw seafood or staying clear of hot tubs and saunas. It could all be exhausting. This has made many pregnant women feel like there isn’t much they can do besides sit and wait for their child to arrive.
However, just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors and live a boring life. In fact, enjoying some quality outdoors time is one great activity to get involved in during your pregnancy, and what’s the best way to do that if not going on a camping trip to get some fresh air and exercise.
While most of us think that pregnant women should not go on a camping trip because of the risks, some pregnant women still love to spend time with nature and the wild.
So, Is it safe to camp while pregnant?
This article is the ultimate guide to go camping while pregnant. Plus, some tips to make your next pregnancy camping experience a great one.
Safety Tips For Camping While Pregnant
Before you go camping during pregnancy, you must check with your doctor to be sure it’s okay to camp. More than likely, you’ll be fine, but if you’ve had a high-risk pregnancy, they may give you specific guidelines— such as being within 10 minutes of a hospital
Camping while pregnant can be a fantastic experience, but you want to make sure you don’t put yourself or your baby at risk.
So, here are some key safety tips for camping while pregnant:
- Eat Enough Food: Most pregnant women are advised to consume an additional 300 calories a day to help provide their baby with enough energy. But, if you’re camping during the fall, winter, or spring, you’ll likely need to eat more just to stay warm. You could also consult your OB for guidance.
- Drink Lots of Water: Hydration is essential for everyone, but it’s particularly critical for pregnant women. According to the College of William and Mary, pregnant women should expect to consume at least 64 ounces (1.9L) of water per day. Drinking water is especially important during the third trimester because dehydration can lead to preterm labor.
- If You Feel Any Sort of Pain, Stop: The first rule for camping and staying active while pregnant is to avoid all forms of pain as camping shouldn’t be painful. If you’re in pain, bleeding, or your baby stops moving, you should stop whatever you’re doing, contact your OB immediately and seek professional medical help.
- Watch Your Heart Rate: Pregnant women need to limit their heart rate to a minimum of just 60-80%. An easy way to monitor your heart rate is through a fitness tracker. However, if you’re thinking of doing a lot of hiking while camping during pregnancy, you can seek more guidance from your OB for your ideal heart rate.
- Mind Your Step: You also have to be mindful of your steps while camping during pregnancy, especially when you go hiking because as you get further along in your pregnancy, you might start to struggle with your balance. This happens because your growing belly can quickly shift your center of gravity. So, when hiking on rough terrain, be mindful of where you step. It might be a good idea to use trekking poles for added support.
- Rest At Intervals: Don’t be afraid to take frequent breaks while camping. This is particularly important if you’re going out on a long hike as you might get tired more quickly than expected. Speak up if you need to slow down or take a short break.
- Avoid Lying On Your Back: Pregnant women are advised to sleep on their sides as lying flat on your back while pregnant can cut off blood flow to your heart. So even while camping out on a sleeping pad, try not to sleep on your back.
- Backpacking While Pregnant: Pregnant women should take some special precautions while wearing backpacks. Carrying a heavy pack while pregnant can cause a lot of pain. As frequent backpack use can cause kyphosis or a curved upper back. Meanwhile, pregnancy can cause lordosis or a curved lower spine. However, there are some options we could consider when packing a backpack:
- Pack Intelligently: It’s wise to put the heaviest items at the bottom when packing, as it will help move your center of gravity, helping to avoid you leaning forward when walking.
- Go Light Weight: During the later stages of your pregnancy, you just wouldn’t be able to carry as much load as you used to. So it’s best to try to minimize your pack weight so you don’t put too much strain on your body.
- Avoid Using Hip-belt: Most hiking and backpacking packs usually have a hip-belt that helps to shift some of the weight off of your shoulders and onto your hips. But, you probably won’t be able to use this hip belt during the second and third trimester.
- Change Packs: Shorter backpacks help place strain on your shoulders, so it’s advisable to use it when packing for camping.
Best Camping Foods When Pregnant
Pregnancy is known as a time where weird food craving makes appearances in your day to day life. So, for an ultimate guide to go camping while pregnant, what you eat is really important. You don’t want to start feeling nauseous while trying to have a good time camping. Here are some food items you might want to pack for your next camping getaway.
- Food With High-Fiber: Many women get constipated while pregnant, in cases like this, high-fiber foods can be helpful. Consider packing chia seeds for your morning oats, apples, and oranges as mid-day snacks, and some avocados to slice for your lunch-time sandwiches.
- Protein-Rich Food: Food rich in Protein is essential for pregnant women as it helps with fetal growth. You can yourself a trail mix that’s full of nuts as a snack for hiking days. Eggs for breakfast, and you can have beans and other legumes in your dinner time recipes. If you have some backcountry trips, powdered eggs could be a great recipe idea.
- Hot Cocoa ; Pregnancy-Safe Tea: Many pregnant women are told to avoid caffeine, so you might want to pack hot cocoa and un-caffeinated teas for your trip.
- Craving Foods: Pregnant women always have cravings. So, whatever your current cravings are, don’t forget to bring them with you. Whether it’s chocolate, cheese, peanut butter, or an exciting food combination, figure a way to pack it with you on your camping adventure.
Is It Safe to Sit by a Fire During Pregnancy?
Research shows that prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke increases pregnancy complications, including high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, low birth weight, and premature birth (before 37 weeks).
These conditions can have short-term and lifelong effects on a baby’s health, with increased risk of conditions like cerebral palsy and visual or hearing impairment. Even babies born only a few weeks early can experience learning difficulties and behavioral problems and have elevated heart disease risk later.
Therefore, pregnant women must protect themselves from exposure to bushfire smoke.
Wood burning produces smoke that, when inhaled, can be harmful. Smoke from wood-burning consists of small particles, toxic chemicals, and carbon monoxide. This type of smoke is most seen in wood-burning fireplaces, campfires, and wood-burning ovens. There are health risks associated with prolonged exposure to smoke from wood burning. These health risks are:
- Inflamed lungs
- Acute bronchitis
- Respiratory infections
- Asthma attacks
- Heart attacks
Pregnant women are advised to avoid inhaling smoke from wood-burning due to potential health risks to themselves and the developing child. But, what pregnant woman wouldn’t enjoy putting up her feet and relaxing by a roaring fire? It’s ok to be worried about breathing in all that smoke, or the carbon monoxide that comes with it.
Right now, there aren’t any studies that directly look at the effects of campfire smoke inhalation on pregnancy. But there is plenty of relevant research on the effects of wildlife and house fire smoke on pregnant women and their unborn children.
The research is clear that smoke inhalation is not good for an expecting mother or her child. So, it’s probably best not to sit next to a campfire if you’re pregnant.
If you really want to have a fire on your next camping trip, it’s worth discussing it with your OB, and make sure that you follow the campfire safety tips. They may recommend that you sit upwind and quite far away from the fire to limit your exposure to the smoke. But, you may find that having a campfire while pregnant just isn’t worth the risk.
Is Hiking While Pregnant Safe?
Hiking while pregnant is a great way to stay healthy, fit, and sane during those nine months, but, with your doctor’s approval. Hiking is a low-impact form of exercise that is great for both cardio and muscular strength. It also works perfectly well for mental states. But just like everything else during pregnancy, there are special considerations involved when hitting the trail with that baby bump.
For the most part, hiking while pregnant is safe. But every woman is different and so is every pregnancy. It’s very important to always check with your doctor or midwife first before you think about taking any excursions. Once you get the go-ahead from your care provider, keep in mind that even terrain is best. I’m not talking about climbing mountains here. Hiking is just walking but with a little bit of a challenge and some gorgeous scenery to go along with it.
While pregnant, you need to drink twice as much water as before you were pregnant. When you go hiking, you’ll need to increase that even more. Staying hydrated will help replenish all the water you lose when you sweat. It will also prevent muscle cramps.
Also, keeping your blood sugar up while you’re hiking is crucial as well. As soon as you realize you’re getting hungry, have a snack. It can be a trail mix or a protein bar. Anything small, healthy, and easy to eat will do.
Working out while you’re pregnant offers lots of benefits for you and your baby. You’ll get a boost in mood, a decrease in many pregnancy symptoms, and a quicker postpartum recovery. And your baby may enjoy a fitter heart, lower BMI, and boost brain health.
Exercise is also perfectly safe, as long as you get the okay from your practitioner before hitting any new or familiar workout routine and follow a few pregnancy-specific modifications.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that expecting moms get at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day, most (if not all) days of the week.
What are the best camp exercises for pregnant women?
- As long as you get the go-ahead from you doctor or midwife to exercise, you can consider the following cardiovascular exercises to increase blood circulation, muscle tone and endurance:
- Swimming: Swimming and water aerobics may just be the perfect pregnancy workout. Why? You weigh less than you do on land in the water, so you’ll feel lighter and more agile. A dip in the pool may also help relieve nausea, sciatic pain and puffy ankles. And because your baby is floating along with you, it’s gentle on your loosening joints and ligaments, your body will naturally respond to pregnancy hormones.
- Walking: There’s no easier exercise to fit into your pregnancy camping routine than walking, you can do this regularly till you leave your camping site. All you need is just a good pair of sneakers and you’re good to go.
- Running: Want to go a little faster? Experienced runners can stay on track during pregnancy with a doctor’s OK. Stick to level terrain, and never overdo it. Loose ligaments and joints during pregnancy can make jogging harder on your knees, and you may be prone to injury.
- Group dance: Asides having this as a fun activity during camping, you could also have it as an exercise. Low-impact dance could pass for workout classes like Zumba— a great way to increase your heart rate and get the endorphins flowing if you’re a newbie exerciser. As your abdomen expands, avoid any activities that require careful balance. If you’re an experienced athlete, listen to your body, avoid jumping or high-impact movements, and never exercise to the point of exhaustion.
- Hiking: Avoid uneven terrain—especially later in pregnancy, when your belly can block your view of pebbles in your path. Also high altitudes and slippery conditions should be avoided. But hiking during camping is a great form of exercise for pregnant women.
- Biking: While you pack up for your camping adventure, talk to your doctor if it’s ok to go biking while camping with your pregnancy. The extra weight of your baby belly can affect your balance, and you don’t want to risk toppling over when your baby is on board. Wear a helmet, skip bumpy surfaces, and avoid wet pavement and roads with tight curves.
- Ice skating, horseback riding and in-line skating: You can probably keep these activities up early in pregnancy as long as you have your practitioner’s green light, but you’ll have to give them up later on due to balance issues.
Is It Safe To Camp At High Altitudes While Pregnant?
Traveling to higher elevations exposes your body — pregnant or not — to lower air pressure and leads to lower oxygen levels in the blood. Some studies show that exposure to high altitude environments can potentially stress a pregnant woman’s body’s ability to get oxygen to her baby. As a result, your tissues can become deprived of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia.
Therefore, pregnant women need to be careful when traveling to high altitude locations. TO also support that claim, a 2012 French study found that women with certain pre-existing conditions, including preeclampsia and hypertension, should be diligent about avoiding high altitudes after the 20th week of pregnancy.
If you’re hypertensive or have preeclampsia or any other high-risk pregnancy condition, high altitudes may worsen your condition. Talk with your healthcare provider before making travel plans. Your body should typically acclimate to the lower oxygen levels when you’re pregnant, thereby ensuring your baby continues to receive adequate oxygen. Annie Porter, Managing Director and an obstetrician in Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship Program at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus says, for women who are healthy and have a complication-free pregnancy, traveling up to 8,000 feet above sea level is generally considered safe.
However, a period of acclimatization is needed. For example, if you are planning a trip to an elevation of 7,500 feet, try to start by spending a day or two at an elevation of 5,000 feet to acclimate.
Now, depending on where you live, you may already be exposed to moderately high altitudes. However, many OBs and medical organizations recommend that women avoid traveling to or camping at high altitudes while pregnant.
World Health Organization (WHO) states that women should avoid traveling to places above 9,845ft (3,000m) during pregnancy. But, much of the current medical advice on traveling to high altitudes while pregnant relies on small-scale studies, so it’s not clear the actual risks to expecting mothers or their babies. While there are countless pregnant women that live and exercise at high altitudes to no ill effect, these are mostly women who have spent their whole lives living at extreme elevations. Thus, the CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to high elevations, particularly if they are unaccustomed to high altitudes.
Is it safe to use bug sprays during pregnancy?
So far, no studies have proved that DEET (a chemical found in bug sprays) poses any health hazard to pregnant women or their unborn babies, but some of the chemicals, according to research, may get to the baby. Some health care providers advise pregnant women to use insect repellents, including those containing DEET because they help to reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry potentially serious viruses. Therefore, it is advised to not use more than what is needed when using a repellent, and immediately wash your hands after use. However, the risk in insect repellents or bug sprays that may contain DEET, or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, isn’t fully known.
Bug spray may only be an issue when you have to travel to a country where you are at risk of insect-borne diseases.
UK health agencies recommend that you use Deet if you’re pregnant and traveling to a malarial area or Zika virus area. You should also discuss anti-malarial medicine with your Doctor.
Research into the use of various chemicals during pregnancy hasn’t been robust, but several studies support the safety of chemicals commonly found in insect repellents. A class action suit involving nearly 900 women found that when DEET was applied regularly in the second and third trimesters, it could cross the placenta, but it didn’t have any adverse effects on the baby’s survival, growth, development at birth, or development at one year old.
However, in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s safe for women at any stage of pregnancy and nursing moms to use insect repellents containing DEET up to 30 percent concentration, as long as they’re registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Several medical professionals have said that EPA-approved bug sprays are safe for pregnant women as long as they’re not overused.
In conclusion, camping is a fantastic way to stay active during your pregnancy. Following this ultimate guide to go camping while pregnant will also help put you on the right track. However, for both you and your child’s health and safety, be sure to consult your doctor if you need specific advice about camping and, but importantly, prioritize your comfort. With the right precautions, a pregnant camping trip can be a wonderful experience that you will live to remember for years to come.