I have never been pregnant; but as a woman in my late 20’s I have quite a few friends and family members who have been carrying their future bundles of joy. I have been the empathetic but pregnancy ignorant friend for quite a few people. With my knowledge of my friends pregnancies and my first hand experience of the ‘symptoms’ of hiking, I came to the conclusion that hiking is basically like being ‘short-term pregnant’.
1. Your feet swell.
Hiking – You’re carrying a bag up and down a mountain of course you can expect some swelling. This is caused by one of three things. Culprit one is increased blood flow. Amazingly this is due to your hands and feet cooling because your body is putting MORE effort into supplying extra energy to your heart, lungs, and muscles (or simply your backpack straps are not adjusted correctly). You could also be suffering from a lack of salt or (Hyponatremia).
Pregnancy – What a cruel joke. First of all you’re carrying another human and then your feet decided to swell WTH. This is the polar opposite of what causes swelling when you hike. Swelling when your pregnant is due to fluid retention. This is due to the normal culprit (hormones) causing your kidneys to retain sodium, which in turn causes your other organs to retain water. Fun.
2. The food cravings are real.
Hiking – I swear, as soon as I am up a mountain, as soon as the nearest Seven – 11 is nowhere in sight, I start craving an icy glass of coca cola. This craving ONLY hits when I’m hiking (I hardly drink soda). I only crave a tall glass when relief from my heads demands for the fizzy brown drink is nowhere in sight.
Pregnancy – Pickles and ice cream? Tacos at 3am? Pizza bagels? Carrots and peanut butter? The list goes on from the bizarre to the greasy and it always hits at the most inconvenient times from what I’ve heard.
Don’t worry for both hikers and pregnant women; there is no scientific evidence that your food cravings have any basis in your body’s nutritional needs.
3. You might have to deal with some nausea.
Hiking – This is usually a ‘self induced’ symptom caused by exerting yourself too much, dehydration, or hypoglycemia (lack of sugar), or eating something you thought was edible (come on now).
Pregnancy – While doctors are still clueless about what EXACTLY causes nausea while pregnant there are a few theories. Hypoglycemia, and pregnancy hormones are the major contenders.
4. You’ll get sores in places you didn’t even know existed.
Hiking – When walking ANYWHERE after a multi-day hike, you look like you are trying to imitate a penguin. IT HURTS.
Pregnancy – Skin conditions due to hormones, bed soars, rubbing, and even hemorrhoids are among the list of things you can enjoy while pregnant.
5. Talking about food, you’ll eat a ton.
Hiking – When you hike you burn a TUN of calories an average of 3000 calories a day, which puts hiking at the top of the list of strenuous sports. Due to the laws of foodaholics (and your body demanding fuel) you need more calorie packed petrol than before. If you are NOT trying to loose weight you need to consume 3,000 + calories daily to sustain your energy levels. That means you need to eat a lot of high calorie meals and frequently. If you are trying to drop the pounds, a 1,000 calories a day deficit (2,000 calories) is the maximum suggested for healthy weight loss.
Pregnancy – Depending on your weight before pregnancy your doctor may suggest that you gain quite a few pounds. The average weight gain suggestions are 15 – 25 pounds for statistically overweight women, 25 – 35 pounds for statistically average sized women, and a whopping 28 – 40 pounds if you are statistically underweight! The suggestions for weight gain while pregnant are very similar to those while hiking; frequent high calorie meals.
6.Varying degrees of constipation.
Hiking – Ok, hiking constipation is usually due to the fact that you don’t want to do the doo somewhere that is not a porcelain throne. You should stop being a princess and dig a hole for your rejected food leftovers, but you decided to wait instead. You could also just be dehydrated.
Pregnancy – This isn’t caused by forgoing pooping in a smelly outhouse. Constipation during pregnancy is due to the pesky hormone progesterone, which has a relaxing effect on the body INCLUDING your digestive tract which causes more water to be absorbed into the body. Basically not being able to poo while pregnant makes your fear of a cold bottom and a smelly toilet look like a walk in the woods.
7. The reward was worth the struggle.
Hiking – Through all the aches and pains, the downright torture at times, in the end the rewards keep you coming back for more and never cease to take your breath away.
Pregnancy – You have to remind yourself that you chose to do this to yourself. In the end you are a hero, you are bringing a life into this world and that is simply amazing.
So, to all you hikers and pregnant women reading this, keep pushing!