TRAVEL FEATURE - - LOUIS LA PLANTE

What to Expect on Your Hike When You’re Expecting

Nothing in this world feels more natural than childbirth. Yet, nothing in this world seems more shrouded in mystery. So mystifying that well into the 21st century, the Mayo Clinic published this story: “The Top 7 Pregnancy Myths.”

Though not on the “Top 7” list, another popular myth is that pregnant women shouldn’t exercise. They should, rather, sit on the couch and listen to their feet swell. Again, the Mayo Clinic is concerned about this advice: “Unless you're experiencing serious complications, sitting around won't help. In fact, pregnancy can be a great time to get active,” it wrote in “Pregnancy and exercise: Baby let’s move!”

From preventing back pain and excess weight gain to helping the expecting mother to sleep better, the health benefits are multifold. That’s why when Amanda Goedde was five months pregnant with twins, her doctor told her to take a hike.

Here, Goedde shares her hiking experience and advice for what to expect on your hike when you are expecting.

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Favorite Hiking Attraction

Starved Rock State Park in Illinois

About the Park

It has 13 miles of trails that meander along the Illinois River and top sandstone bluffs. Starved Rock also boasts numerous waterfalls (best seen after heavy rainfalls).

Goedde personally leans toward taking a loop off of the River Trail. It leads to Tonti Canyon, which she describes as a “must see,” but then admits, “All of the out of the way trails off the main one are worth the time.”

What to Pack

For Goedde, the packing list for her average 4-mile hike wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Two bottles of water, a box of granola bars, sunglasses and “a travel pack of Kleenex,” she says, “that could double as toilet paper in a pinch.”

Why Hike While Pregnant

Goedde’s doctor recommended she stay active with low-impact exercise. Nothing fit the bill better than hikes on easy-to-moderate trails. The physician’s other advice: Drink plenty of water. “Hence the need for toilet paper,” Goedde says.

Other Precautions

No stranger to a hike, Goedde felt one thing was noticeably different while hiking five months pregnant: “Stairs are the devil, way more the devil than usual,” she says. At Starved Rock where there are stairs leading to various trails, this was a challenge. But as for the hiking, “it was pretty similar,” she says. “I was just a bit slower than normal.”

One Last Piece of Advice

“Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you can probably still handle what you did before being pregnant--low impact-wise--just fine. Take it slow at first and feel it out. If you feel great, keep going. Drink your water. And if something starts to get uncomfortable, don't feel bad stopping for a break. People will be more understanding and accommodating than you think,” Goedde says.