Staying active outside: Pregnancy

Chatting with a friend who is pregnant, I realized that I’m starting to forget all the little details about what it was like being pregnant.  All the miserable parts are getting foggier (thank goodness!) and the fun parts are what is standing out.  I guess this is how women getting around to having a second baby? In any case I thought I would write down what I could recollect about staying active while I still remember.  Before finding out I was pregnant I was very active as you can probably tell by checking out the rest of my blog.  Here is a brief rundown of what I was able to do or didn’t do during those 9 months and how I made it work.   I’m hoping to get a little series going with suggestions for the 0-3, 3-6, and 6-9 month phases of having a baby.

Activities

Hiking

This was my #1 go to activity until the snow started flying.  To better enjoy my hikes I did a few things:

  • Tone down the elevation gain. I tried to stay <500m of elevation gain over 10-12 km.  If the trail was shorter I’d pick something with even less elevation.
  • Bring lots of water.
  • Have someone else (hubby) carry lunch, water and clothes. From early on I wasn’t able to use backpack waist belts comfortably and I hate using a pack without them as it hurts my shoulders.
  • Bring extra warm clothes.  I would get hot easily while hiking so once we stopped it was good to have a sweater or pants to throw on.
  • Wear a hip support belt.  There are specific ones made for pregnancy, I used this one which I bought from Coop Home Health (if you’re in Calgary) and it was covered by my insurance.
  • Bring appropriate food. See below.

A few of the hikes I enjoyed doing were:

  • Chester Lake (Kananaskis)
  • Eiffel Lake (Lake Louise)
  • Ptarmigan Cirque (Highwood Pass)
  • Bear’s Hump & Bertha Lakes (Waterton)
  • Maligne Canyon & Whistler’s Mountain from the gondola (Jasper)
Almost at the lake! You can see Wenkchemna Pass on the left side and just over the pass is Lake O'Hara.

Hiking in to Eiffel Lake

Running

I ran until I was 5 months pregnant at which point the impact of running was more than my poor body could handle.  When I did run, I always wore a waist belt that carried small water bottles as was more thirsty than usual.

Camping

I car camped a few times over the summer and it was ok but the frequency of my trips to the bathroom made it much less enjoyable than usual.

View of Waterton from Bear's Hump. We camped in town and discovered where half of Alberta goes to on long weekends.

View of Waterton from Bear’s Hump. We camped in town and discovered where half of Alberta goes to on long weekends.

Climbing

In my first trimester I climbed indoors on whatever I felt like, but didn’t lead anything.  I did a very easy 5.7 multi-pitch in Chamonix when I was 3 months pregnant which felt really good.  I didn’t climb again after that mostly due to a lack of climbing partners.

Yoga

I took a prenatal yoga class during my last trimester and was impressed with how much it helped me out.  I was initially worried it would be heavy on the “meditation and visualization” side but it turned out to be just perfect and left me feeling stretched out and relaxed.  I highly recommend the prenatal classes at Yoga Mandala in Calgary (Sara is a great teacher!).

Biking

I biked a little during during my 1st and 2nd trimesters (they fell during the summer).  Loading a bike into my trunk was difficult and resulted in not much biking and the purchase of a bike rack.  I did enjoy biking at Glenbow Ranch though I had to walk some of the hills. I’d recommend padded bike shorts.

Watching the CP rail trains go by.

Watching the CP rail trains go by.

Swimming

My last trimester fell during winter and an aquasize class was just what I needed to feel active without having to bundle up for outdoors.  You don’t need to take a prenatal one, I attended a drop in class at the YMCA. Bonus – you get a solid 45 min of feeling semi-weightless!

Skiing

Nope.  Did not do any skiing.  I wasn’t pregnant during downhill season and I’m not a cross country skier – yet!

Snowshoeing

I loved loved loved this during my last trimester.  I was starting to get shoulder season cabin fever and snowshoeing was the cure.  Here are some tips for getting out:

  • Buy good snowshoes! Ever heard the saying a pound on the foot is worth 5 on the back? This is all the more true when you’re already carrying extra weight.
  • Bending over to adjust snowshoes is difficult so give it a try at home before doing it at the trailhead with bare (and cold!) fingers.
  • Wear a hip support belt.
  • Wear good quality, comfortable clothes (see below).

Here are some trails I was loving:

  • Elbow Lake (HIGHLY recommend this.  It’s gorgeous!)
  • Hogarth Lakes
  • Paddy’s Flat (nice because it’s close to the city)
  • Bragg Creek’s Snowshoe Hare trail (this one is a bit long so perhaps so take are not to go further than you’re willing to walk back)
  • Fish Creek. If you stick to what are “dirt” trails in the summer, you can easily snowshoe several kilometres in the park

Enjoying the jacket panel on a cold day while snowshoeing at Bragg Creek

Snowshoeing in Bragg Creek with my jacket panel

Plain ‘ol walking

Most evenings I went for a stroll around the block just to get some fresh air and stretch the legs.

Notes

Food

I took a prenatal class and they recommended eating around 80 g of protein a day as a goal.  On days when I wasn’t active, I found I was happy eating under this but on days I was very active, I ate WAY more than that.  I’m not a dietician but I think it’s good to keep your protein intake in mind when packing lunches and snacks for active days.

Clothes

Activewear really becomes an issue if when you’re hitting your last stages of pregnancy over the winter.  Here is how I handled it:

  • Borrow, borrow, borrow.  A good friend loaned me some fantastic Mountain Mama maternity clothes which I loved.  I also snagged a pair of my dad’s long john’s.
  • Buy select pieces. In particular I’d recommend the Make My Belly Fit panel which allowed me to wear my technical jackets.
  • Improvise.  Cold bum while snowshoeing because your jacket doesn’t go down far enough? Wrap a fleece scarf around yourself to make a faux skirt :)

Hope this helps someone out! If you’d like to read other blogs about staying active during pregnancy I’d recommend the three below.

If anyone has any other tips or good sites I’d loves to hear!

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Snowshoeing at Elbow Lake, Hogarth Lakes and Paddy’s Flat

The last three weeks I’ve been on a snowshoeing spree as I try out new locations I haven’t been to yet.  The challenge is that with each passing week, I’m getting a little slower and more reluctant to be too far out into the backcountry as I near the end of the third trimester.  Here are the last three snowshoe trips I’ve done with the best one first :)

Elbow Lake

This was by far my favourite snowshoe that we’ve done … maybe ever?  It’s not a particularly long trail but it could definitely be extended as far as you wanted.  The only caveat is that it’s in the Highwood so it becomes inaccessible after December 1st each year when winter gates are shut on the 40.  The parking lot is really well signed and you walk up an old road for 1.4km until you reach the lake.  Once at the lake there are a few options.  We decided to walk a loop around the lake before heading down, but it seems like when you reach the other end of the lake you could also continue into the obvious valley as far as you wanted.  As we walked around the lake, we noticed there was at least once avalanche runout that crosses the path but there wasn’t enough snow on it to be worried about anything sliding.  Just something to think about if you are doing the loop!  There is no avalanche danger if you only go up to the lake. I loved doing the loop as the views are really outstanding for such a short approach!  As we completed the loop we made note of a few things.  First, there was an adorable decorated tree at the end of the lake which caused me to do a double take.  It’s not often you see something like that in the backcountry and the juxtaposition with the wilderness around it make for some great pics if I say so myself!  Secondly,  if you take the loop in a clockwise direction (which we did) you finish with walking through a backcountry campground.  The campground looks really cute and seems to have compostable toilets which are my favourite to use!  I think this might be a good spot for the baby’s first backcountry trip to due the super easy approach and beautiful location & facilities.  Also, if I came back in the winter with kids, the trail in seems wide enough for a chariot and there are fire pits in the campground we saw others using with their kids.  Last observation was that this seems to be a popular early season backcountry ski location.  It is certainly accessible though based on some of the tracks we saw, it didn’t look like any of the skiing off the lake was very stellar.

Where is it? Start at the Elbow Pass Day Use Lot.  Once you pass the winter gates on the 40, it’s maybe 12km down the road and well signed.
How far? Including the loop around the lake it was 4.6km
Elevation gain? a little under 200m
More info

Trail leading up to Elbow Lake

Trail leading up to Elbow Lake

Views from the lake

Views from the lake

More views from the lake.  How beautiful is this?!

More views from the lake. How beautiful is this?!

The is at the end of the lake, there is a valley that continues on the left hand side.  I believe you can even backpack across to the other side of Kananaskis around Hwy 66.

The is at the end of the lake, there is a valley that continues on the left hand side. I believe you can even backpack across to the other side of Kananaskis around Hwy 66.

The infamous Christmas tree in the middle of nowhere! This really made my day.

The infamous Christmas tree in the middle of nowhere! This really made my day.

Hogarth Lakes

The following weekend we decided to head out to Hogarth Lakes.  The week had been warm with no snow and after a quick call to the Peter Lougheed Visitor Centre in Kananaskis, our suspicions were confirmed that the Burstall/Chester area was the only place with any hopes of having deep snow (other than Highwood Pass which we had been to the last weekend).  Since we were heading out with couple friends who were also expecting, we decided on Hogarth Lakes since it’s very mellow.  The route starts from the Burstall Pass parking lot and after passing through the forest, you wind up completing a loop that wraps around Hogarth Lakes.  By the time we went (last week of November) the lakes were mostly frozen and it was pretty obvious where you could safely shortcut the trail and go on the lakes or where you couldn’t.  The trail was also extremely well signed with little orange diamonds.  Unfortunately it started snowing that morning so the views weren’t great but the snow was excellent and the trail was just long for the pregnant ladies to feel like we got our outdoor quotient for the day! On the way out we happened to see a moose in the middle of the highway!  The poor guy definitely freaked out when he saw us coming and hightailed it.  Earlier that week we had just talked with another couple of friends who had seen a moose in the area licking salt off all the cars.  Apparently they needed to turn on their car alarm to scare the moose off!

Where is it? Burstall Pass Parking lot (there is a map on the bulletin board in the lot)
How far? The whole loop is around 4km
Elevation gain? virtually none.
More info

The weather wasn't providing any nice shots on the hike and I was too slow with my camera to get a good moose shot so this is courtesy of my friend Lexy who was driving behind us and quicker with her phone!

The weather wasn’t providing any nice shots on the hike and I was too slow with my camera to get a good moose shot so this is courtesy of my friend Lexy who was driving behind us and quicker with her phone!

Paddy’s Flat

This last snowshoe almost didn’t happen. I had been feeling off all weekend and as it turns out I got sick with a bad cold the following week.  We decided to visit the Elbow area of Kananaskis and picked Paddy’s Flat as we knew it would be, well, flat and had lots of short options.  In particular we wanted to snowshoe the Interpretive Loop that leaves from the campground.  I hadn’t been to the Elbow area since the June floods so it was interesting to see what had changed.  But first, about the snowshoe.  We made it as far as the entrance to the loop when we discovered the beginning of the trail was washed out.  We checked out the rest of the campground and enjoyed first tracks in the fluffiest snow ever while looking for an easier (and alternate entrance).  We didn’t find any and with all the fresh snow, it was very difficult to see where the trail might be.  We weren’t sure how much of the trail (which skirted the river) would be passable due to the flood and I was feeling tired so we aborted.  Not our most successful day out but it was sunny and snowy which was good for my mental health!  I could definitely see coming back here with kids as the campground loops are very short and there is a playground. I also saw a really great sledding hill on the right side of the road just before the gates to Paddy’s Flat campground.  I’m sure I would love kids would love to sled on it and we saw several families.  Looked to be a lot of steep and mellow options too.  A lot of people were also out in the area chopping down Christmas trees.  While I love the tradition of cutting down a tree together as a family, I think I would have a hard time doing it in Kananaskis (even though it’s legal in some areas).  I have a soft spot for the area since I’m there so often in the summer.

Where is it? Paddy’s Flat campground gates
How far? The loop is supposed to be 2.2km but we never attempted it after walking roughly 2km in the campground
Elevation gain? very little if you’re just walking around the campground
More info

Nearby Elbow Falls.  We overshot the Paddy's Flat gates and decided to take a look while we were here.  The usual boardwalk is still closed from flood damage.

Nearby Elbow Falls. We overshot the Paddy’s Flat gates and decided to take a look while we were here. The usual boardwalk is still closed from flood damage.

Hubby trailblazing on fresh powder! I might have had him break trail for me a few times when I got tired.

Hubby trailblazing on fresh powder! I might have had him break trail for me a few times when I got tired.

The washout at the beginning of the trail :(  Wish I could win the lotto and donate it all to Kcountry so they could fix things up.

The washout at the beginning of the trail :( Wish I could win the lotto and donate it all to Kcountry so they could fix things up.

This is a silhouette of a 35 week pregnant lady trying to snowshoe in -15C. I don't think the lighting angle did me any favours!

This is a silhouette of a 35 week pregnant lady trying to snowshoe in -15C. I don’t think the lighting angle did me any favours!  Side note, to keep my bum from getting cold I wrapped a polar fleece scarf around my lower half and secured it in place with my SI support belt.  Not the most glamorous look but at least I as warm!

Showshoeing at The Point

I’ve never been into any winter sports other than skiing and ice climbing.  It’s crossed my mind to try something else, you know, add some variety to my winter sport list, but it’s never seemed like the right time.  This week a friend asked me if I wanted to go snowshoeing and for whatever reason, it seemed like the right time.  The fact that the hills hadn’t gotten any snow played no part in my decision :)

My husband & I joined my friend, her husband and her dog on a snowshoe to The Point on Kananaskis Lakes.  In one of those funny coincidences, The Point is also a summer backcountry campsite and was the first place we had ever backcountry camped as well as being the first place my girlfriend & her hubby had backcountry camped.  It’s 4km and 200m of elevation gain to get to the backcountry site.  We ate lunch at one of the sites overlooking the frozen lake and had we thought ahead, we could have used the firepit!  There were a few sites that looked like they were cleared and camped in recently and we saw two guys hike in across the lake to camp overnight.

All in all, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the trip.  I knew I’d have a blast hanging out with our friends but turns out snowshoeing is actually really fun!  I’ve been hiking on well-packed trails in the winter/shoulder season and never understood why you’d bring snowshoes.  Turns out there’s some good reasons!.\  First off, if you want to step off to the side to snag a picture there’s no more sinking up to your thighs in snow.  Secondly, the crampons on the bottom of the snowshoes provide so much security when you walk.  No more slipping or sliding with each step.  In addition, there’s heel risers you can pull up to make going uphill easier.

We bought our snowshoes at MEC and were both really happy with what we chose.  I got the Women’s MSR Lightning Axis 22 snowshoes (which came in purple!) and my husband got the MSR Evo Tour 22 (did you know these were the EXACT same snowshoe used by the main character in The Bourne Legacy? (and did you know the winter scenes were filmed at Elbow Falls in Kananaskis??)).

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Trail map

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Looking back at where we started

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Snow covering an old rockslide.  To the far right is a trad climb called Joy.  Joy refers to, I assume, the feeling you get after climbing 10 pitches of slab :)

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Shadows!

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The problem with always bringing my camera is that I get great shots of *other* people but none of myself.

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Almost at the campsite

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A look back at the mountain range behind where we started. Does this look like Alaska? Seems the makers of Bourne Legacy figured it was close enough :)

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Lake ice

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The moon is still barely in the sky

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My snowshoes. Not that you can really see them.

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The mountain pup. On a side note, she has matching green legwarmers that I sewed out of polar fleece but it was too warm to wear them.

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It was really windy on the lake and the wind was swirling the snow around.  I just happened to catch it when the sun went behind a cloud but was still partially shining on the lake.  I think the effect was pretty neat!