Camping during pregnancy can be a wonderful experience. The fresh air, exercise, and time away from everyday stresses can be both exhilarating and relaxing.
When planning for a camping trip while pregnant, you’ll probably want to spend a bit of extra time packing and preparing though.
Here we’ll go over some essentials you’ll need to know in order to make your trip as comfortable, safe, and rewarding as possible. While some of these may be common knowledge to many women, it helps to be reminded during the trip preparation period.
1 – Make Sleeping As Comfortable as Possible
Getting a comfortable night’s sleep during pregnancy can sometimes be a challenge, especially after the first trimester. Many women experience aches and pains in their backs, hips, and legs, in particular. This can be exacerbated by sleeping on a hard surface such as the ground of a tent.
Bring an extra-thick pad or air mattress to sleep on in order to help with this. Also, if you generally use a pregnancy pillow, don’t forget to pack that as well.
Keep in mind that you may be more prone to feeling overheated at night so, even in cooler weather, it might be helpful to consider bringing along a lightweight blanket in addition to a sleeping bag in case you wake up feeling too warm.
You’ll also probably want to bring a comfortable chair—maybe even one that reclines and allows you to put your feet up—to rest in during the day.
2 – Avoid High Altitude Destinations
At higher altitudes, our bodies get less oxygen and this could potentially be harmful during pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises traveling pregnant women against activities at high altitudes due to the increased risk of heart palpitations and breathlessness in women who aren’t accustomed to being active at higher elevations.
Similarly, they recommend against sleeping at altitudes above 12,000 feet and advise that any increase in altitude during travel be done slowly, allowing the body time to adjust.
3 – Plan Accordingly for Long Drives
If your camping destination is far from home, make sure you plan for frequent stops along the way. Blood clots are a potential risk during pregnancy, so it is important to walk around and stretch the muscles in your legs frequently.
For some women, morning sickness is also exacerbated by the motion of riding in the car, and if this is an issue for you, getting out and walking around in the fresh air periodically can often help.
You also may find that you need to make more frequent restroom trips, so plan on spending more time traveling than you would need when not pregnant.
4 – Make Sure to Bring Suitable Shoes
If you’ll be on your feet a lot, especially if you go hiking, remember that feet have a tendency to swell during pregnancy. You may want to bring along an extra pair of shoes or boots in a size bigger than you normally wear, in case you experience swelling.
Pregnancy can also throw off your balance, so make sure that whatever shoes you do bring have great traction in order to reduce the risk of falling.
Along the same lines, make sure that any hiking you do will be on fairly level and easily-navigated paths; this will help avoid stumbling.
5 – Consider the Bathroom Situation in Your Camping Locale
Since pregnant women usually need to use the restroom frequently, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing a campground. Your comfort is important, so make sure you take this into consideration during the planning phase of your trip.
6 – Make Sure Your Schedule Includes Downtime
Pregnancy takes a toll on your body and energy levels, so make sure your schedule includes enough time to just relax.
Pregnancy increases fluid intake requirements, so it is important to ensure that you are taking breaks to stop and drink water.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women should drink about 10 cups of water, or other fluids, each day. During a busy camping trip, it can be difficult to remember to drink this much, so this is another benefit of taking regular breaks throughout the day.
It’s also common to experience foot pain while pregnant, so you may want to relax and elevate your legs for a while periodically. Taking a few moments to stretch can also help keep you comfortable.
7 – Protect Yourself From Insect Bites
According to Smithsonian Magazine, pregnant women are thought to get twice the number of mosquito bites as other people. Tick bites may also be a concern to you.
Covering the full body with clothing is always helpful. Mosquito nets can also be useful in some camping circumstances.
Likewise, in some instances, using bug repellents may be prudent. The Environmental Working Group has a useful guide dedicated to the issue of insect repellent use during pregnancy.
8 – Bring Pregnancy-Friendly Food and Drinks
Morning sickness and food aversions affect many women during pregnancy. Some women feel better after the first trimester, but others experience these issues throughout their entire pregnancies.
If you suspect that morning sickness may be an issue during your trip, consider packing ginger pops, crackers, or whatever special foods you’ve found helpful.
Along the same lines, make sure to pack enough of the foods that you tolerate well, including plenty of high-fiber snacks. It’s a good idea to bring along a bit more than you anticipate actually needing, so that you have a variety of options to choose from if something suddenly sounds unappealing.
You may also find that the extra exercise increases your appetite a bit, so it’s great to make sure you’ll have plenty to eat throughout the day.
Brewing big pots of coffee is a camping tradition for many families. Since pregnant women are advised to reduce caffeine consumption, plan ahead so that you won’t be tempted to indulge in coffee (or too much coffee).
Pregnancy-safe teas, or even hot cocoa, make great replacement drinks so that you don’t feel left out of coffee-drinking, so make sure to bring some of these along.
9 – Remember Food Safety Precautions
Food safety is particularly important during pregnancy, and it can sometimes be harder to adhere to the recommended guidelines while away from home.
You won’t have your refrigerator, so make sure you remember not to eat foods—especially meats—which have been left sitting out. Also keep in mind guidelines regarding eating deli meats, cold cuts, and hot dogs.
If you will be eating meat, bring along a food thermometer to make sure it has been heated and cooked thoroughly enough to be safe. Also, make sure cold foods are keep cool enough at all times.
If you have any questions about specific guidelines about different foods or food-temperature requirements, Food Safety for Pregnant Women is a great resource.
10 – Don’t Forget to Pack Your Prenatal and Any Medications You Need
Make sure you don’t forget your prenatal vitamins since it’s best to make sure you take these daily. Also, be careful not to forget any medications you regularly take.
Berkeley Wellness advises pregnant travelers to also consider packing simple antacids in case of heartburn.
It’s also probably a good idea to bring along a thermometer and small bottle of acetaminophen since fever during pregnancy can be harmful and other fever-reducing medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin can be unsafe and aren’t generally advised during pregnancy.
If you’ve had any issues with your blood pressure during pregnancy, make sure to bring along a monitor for that as well.
11 – Protect Your Skin
Photosensitivity is a common side effect of pregnancy, and many women become very sensitive to the sun’s rays during their pregnancies.
Melasma, sometimes called “the mask of pregnancy” because it causes patches of brownish discoloration on the face, is caused—or at least made worse—by sun exposure.
Although melasma can occur in men and non-pregnant women, it is much more common during pregnancy, likely because of hormonal changes.
In order to prevent or treat melasma, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing sunscreen (and reapplying regularly), along with wearing a wide-brimmed hat whenever you will be out in the sun. It’s also a good idea to seek out shade whenever practical.
These things are especially important to remember when camping since you’ll likely be getting a lot more sun exposure than you generally do.
12 – Have Plans In Place In Case of Any Medical Issue
Although it’s unlikely that any problem will arise, it’s always best to plan ahead just in case any medical situation should arise. For this reason, it’s probably best not to camp anywhere too remote.
Likewise, make sure you have phone reception in case you want to contact your obstetrician with any questions. Again, the odds are highly in your favor of everything going off without a hitch, but it’s always beneficial to play things safe.
You should also discuss your trip in advance with your doctor ahead of time just in case he or she has any specific recommendations or advice for your particular situation.
13 – Enjoy This Unique Experience
Pregnancy is such a unique and memorable time in life and camping during pregnancy can be a really special experience. With the hectic pace that our lives sometimes take, it can seem that time flies by quicker than we expect.
Enjoy this time out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday schedule. Reflect on the upcoming changes in your family life. Maybe stop to daydream about what it may be like camping with baby one day.
If you are keeping a pregnancy journal, bring it along and write about your camping adventure. If you haven’t chosen a name for baby yet, it might even be fun to bring a baby names book and discuss names while sitting around the campfire at night!
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