Pregnancy & Climbing

If you are pregnant and enjoy rock climbing, that should not prevent you from continuing your climbing activities. Providing you are sensible and don’t take unnecessary risks or take on routes that are too physically challenging, many female climbers carry on enjoying their hobby well into their pregnancies.

Knowing Your Own Body

In the initial stages of pregnancy, many women experience feelings of tiredness and nausea as a result of the new changes inside their bodies which they’re experiencing and often feel the need to rest. In fact, in spite of your love of climbing, you may feel so tired that exercise becomes the last thing on your mind but if you don’t experience any of these symptoms, it’s perfectly fine to continue your climbing regime as long as you take it easy and only go on climbs well within your own comfort zone. At around 3 months, the nausea will often subside and you may feel that you wish to take up climbing again. It’s a healthy activity that will be beneficial for both mother and baby and you can even buy special harnesses that are designed to be worn below the abdomen as opposed to around the stomach that will stop any undue pressure being forced upon the foetus and these are ideal for climbing when you’re pregnant.

Assessing The Risks

Naturally, there are always risks when you climb, whether you’re pregnant or not, but you do need to take extra care when climbing during pregnancy. The major risks are any impact should you slip, trip or fall so you should choose solid rock areas as opposed to crags or alpine routes which are more susceptible to rock falls and avalanches. It’s always more advisable to climb routes which you are familiar with and where you have a thorough knowledge of the terrain. Don’t over exert yourself and avoid climbing when it’s too hot. Extended periods of an increased heart rate also means that your unborn baby’s heart rate will increase too so you should take things gently and not push yourself into tackling more challenging routes during this period. Many pregnant women say that the related rock sport of bouldering is much more suitable if you enjoy climbing and want to keep fit during pregnancy without putting your baby at too great a risk and there is more information on bouldering contained in another article on this website. Keep well hydrated even more so than you might otherwise do to keep your body’s core temperature well regulated. You also need to be aware of the increased risk to joints and tendons to which you’ll be more susceptible because of your increased weight if you push yourself too hard.

The Benefits

Providing that you are sensible about your climbing and don’t take on too strenuous a climb, there are positive advantages to continuing your climbing activities when you’re pregnant. Babies who are born to mothers who have maintained some kind of exercise regime when pregnant – and this relates to all kinds of exercise, not just climbing – tend to be born leaner and more alert. It will also become much easier to get back into a full climbing regime once you’ve given birth. Even babies themselves can be taken along to suitable locations such as climbing walls or a safe bouldering site and they can be carried on your front in the early days and then later on your back and they will love the experience of the great outdoors and all the sights, sounds and smells that it has to offer.

Before climbing during pregnancy however, it’s always advisable to be checked out by your GP or ante-natal class and to seek their advice.