My husband and I love camping together, but now I am 30 weeks pregnant. Do I even have a chance at having fun if we go camping? We just went camping this weekend, and I can now say, yes! You can still enjoy camping while pregnant.
What do you need to know about camping while pregnant to still enjoy yourself? If you go camping while pregnant, the three most important things to remember are (1) to plan ahead, (2) pamper yourself (aka be good to yourself), and (3) be flexible.
Being pregnant is definitely uncomfortable, and camping can sometimes be uncomfortable (being without so many conveniences) – so camping while pregnant is not the time to be a martyr and see how primitive you can camp. Do what you need to and take what you need to – doing this will ensure that you can focus on enjoying the camping experience. Now let’s talk about what some of those things to do and take are.
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How To Camp While Pregnant and Not Be Miserable
Camping while pregnant is no joking matter. My husband and I have had some great times camping even while 6-8 months pregnant, but it requires some extra work. Here are some tips to make sure your camping experience is fun and not miserable.
Planning ahead is important for 2 reasons. First, you probably aren’t as quick and agile while pregnant as you usually are. So throwing together a camping trip last minute may be nearly impossible – or at least exhausting. Second, it’s important that during the camping trip you have what you need. Planning ahead can help ensure that you will enjoy yourself.
Here are some examples of things I planned ahead for our camping trip:
Prepare Your Food Ahead Of Time
I planned out every meal and even plenty of snacks (more snacks that I thought we would need). I did not want to be caught hungry. I planned meals that I knew would fill me up, and plenty of snacks that I knew I would enjoy.
In addition to planning the menu, I also prepped the food ahead of time. Anything that needed to be cut or prepared, I took care of at home. That way I could prepare food in the comfort of my kitchen, and eliminate some work required while camping.
Pick Outfits For Cool And Warm Weather (Comfort First)
This was the first time I’d camped while pregnant, and I was determined to be comfortable. But I didn’t know exactly what I’d want to wear to be comfortable. So, I planned a few outfit options and brought them all. Normally I just grab some gym shorts, sweat pants, and a t-shirt or two and call it good.
But for this trip, I specifically chose clothing that I felt would be comfortable (and camping appropriate) and brought more than I knew I’d need.
I also made sure to bring clothing that would allow me to be cool and warm, depending on how the weather (and my body temperature) played out. For this trip I brought the following:
- Long johns
- Warm wool socks – which I ended up using in the evening/morning.
- Thinner cotton socks
- Thin stretchy pants – which I also ended up using during the day
- Good pair of tennis shoes: I needed the tennis shoes for good support while going on a short hike.
- Loose pair of slip on crocs. This was great, the slip-ons were an essential around the campground (and made getting in and out of the tent a breeze).
Sleeping: The Scariest Part of Camping While Pregnant
Sleep is very important for me (can’t think of many people who feel differently). It can be difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep while pregnant. So sleeping in a tent seems like the worst idea while pregnant. I thought a lot about how to set up my sleeping arrangement, and here is what I did.
I usually don’t enjoy sleeping on a blow up sleeping pad. So, since we are car campers, I tried another method which included multiple layers of padding, a memory foam twin bed topper, blankets, sleeping bags, and TONS of pillows. This took some planning and preparation, but it paid off.
I didn’t feel like I necessarily slept worse than when at home. Nothing compares to sleeping in your own bed, but this was acceptable.
I also slept with ear plugs in. That is a little camping hack, not necessarily specific to being pregnant, that can help you get better sleep if you think night noises (or other campers) will keep you up.
Have a Pee Plan
Another thing to think about is how close you are to the bathrooms. If you can pick your campsite in advance, try to get one near the campsite’s bathroom. Also, if you are going to go on a hike, make sure there’s a bathroom on the route, or that it’s a short enough hike that you’ll be back before you have to pee again.
Having a bathroom close by is also essential for when you have to pee in the middle of the night. I hate getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night while camping. So, I planned ahead and made sure to use the bathroom multiple times before heading to bed.
I went an hour before we got ready for bed, and then again when we brushed our teeth. And I consciously drank very little water for the hour before going to bed. I was rewarded for my efforts because I didn’t wake up needing to use the bathroom until 6am! Hallelujah.
Use a Stand To Pee device. I bought this several years ago (you can find it here on Amazon), and let me tell you, ladies–this is a must for camping. You can get away without one of course, but I find it so helpful to have even when there is a toilet nearby. (Sometimes campsite toilets can be super scary and you’d rather not sit on them anyway).
Pamper Yourself (Essential Camping Hacks For Pregnant Women)
Perhaps “pamper” isn’t the right word. What I mean to say is: be good to yourself, listen to your body, don’t push yourself. Like I said before, this isn’t the time to see how hardcore a camper you can be. Here are some ways I pampered myself on our camping trip:
Bring All the Pillows
I already mentioned my sleeping set up. Usually I use one small travel pillow while camping, but this time, I brought all the pillows I usually sleep with on my bed. This includes a wedge pillow, a memory foam pillow, a pillow for between my legs, and a square extra pillow just in case.
This seems extravagant to me, especially because I left them in their normal pillow cases. But I told myself that my comfort while sleeping was most important. And I was right.
It wasn’t a big deal to fit the pillows in the car, or to carry them to the tent, or to wash the pillow cases when I got home. What was a big deal, was that I got some sleep!
Bring Two Camping Chairs For Yourself
I knew I was going to want to be able to sit and put my feet up. We just have normal camp chairs (not the nice kind with foot rests), so I brought an extra camp chair to put my feet on. Again, more gear, but worth it for the comfort.
I think I might buy a lounge chair of some kind for our next camping trip during this pregnancy, though. I saw a lady using one on this camping trip and realized that would be perfect! You can put your feet up and have multiple options for reclining. Something like this (see on Amazon) would be heavenly.
If you can bring a hammock, that would also be a great place to take a rest or two during the day.
Sun Protection and Bug Repellent
You probably wouldn’t consider using bug repellent as pampering yourself. But it is important that you take good care of yourself while camping and that includes being diligent about protecting your skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sun exposure can aggravate the normal skin and pigmentation changes that can occur during pregnancy. Also, it just seems like it would be miserable to be pregnant AND sunburned. So be good to your skin – wear long sleeves and pants (if you can manage it), wear a hat, and apply sunscreen.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the US has past reports of Zika transmission. Zika is a disease that is dangerous for pregnant women. Fortunately, there have not been any cases of Zika in the US in 2019. However, it is still important for pregnant women to avoid mosquito bites. The best ways to prevent this while camping are to – wear long sleeves and pants (if you can manage it), and to wear bug repellent.
A good tip from the CDC, if you are going to be applying sunscreen and bug spray, is to apply sunscreen first, and then bug spray.
*click on any of the links above to find more comprehensive information from the CDC.
Pick The Easy Hikes
An important way to not push yourself while camping, is to plan a reasonable hike. My husband and I usually do a hike on the trails offered at the campsite, but while pregnant I am careful to plan a hike that I know will not be too long or too strenuous.
The campsites usually can tell you how difficult a hike will be and how long. If none of the trails are a short loop, then we opt for an out and back hike.
Don’t wait until you are really tired to turn back. Turn around and come back while you still feel you have energy. And look for flat hikes instead of ones with an incline.
If your physician has advised you NOT to hike, then don’t even consider it. Or, if lots of walking causes you to start having contractions, then don’t do it. Listen to your body and your physician. Take it easy, and plan to participate in camping activities that you know won’t push you too hard.
Over Plan On Food
Being outdoors definitely takes more out of you than staying at home, so make sure you eat plenty of food and drink plenty of water during the day. And that you have it accessible (i.e. take snacks and water anytime you do an activity like hiking or swimming). Take more food and water than you think you’ll need.
I brought what I considered to be plenty of snacks for our overnight camping trip with 2 people, but we ate them all! Here’s what I took (in addition to a hamburger dinner, bacon & egg sandwich breakfast, and pb & nutella sandwiches with apple slices lunch), just to give you an idea: popcorn, potato chips, pear slices, string cheese, a sliced up cucumber, mandarin oranges, fruit snacks, and beef jerky. The whole camping trip was less than 24 hours.
Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been really into ice-cold water. So for our camping trip, I made sure there was a stash of ice in the cooler for me and would put it in my water bottle frequently to keep my water cool. This isn’t something I would’ve done before I was pregnant, but knew it would help keep me in a good mood and drinking water.
You will move slower and be more tired than usual – so be flexible. Give yourself plenty of time to load up the car (allowing for a rest on the couch before leaving). And plan to arrive with plenty of time to set up camp and make dinner. This is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, so make sure your camping companions have realistic expectations and are okay taking it slow.
Allow yourself time to sleep in, or to take a nap or two during the day.
Also, don’t be too set on the activities you want to do during your camping trip. See how you feel, and if you think that hike would be too much, let it pass and do something else instead. Don’t feel bad for taking it easy – if you are stressed and pushing yourself too hard then you won’t enjoy your camping trip.
Just a reminder to always be mindful of the advice given you by your physician or healthcare provider. Nothing I’ve said here should ever override what your physician has told you. Each woman and each pregnancy is different. Make sure you consider your situation and know your limitations. Keep yourself healthy and safe by following the recommendations of your physician.
What do I need to know about the Zika virus and pregnancy? You need to know (1) your risk of exposure to Zika according to your location, and (2) how to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Check this map for current outbreaks, which would show up as red, or the risk in a particular area. The simple ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites are to wear pants, long sleeves, and bug repellent when you know you’ll be exposed to mosquitoes.
For more comprehensive information regarding Zika and pregnancy visit these sites from the Center for Disease Control: Zika and Pregnancy, What We Know About Zika and Pregnancy, and Pregnant Women and Zika.
What kind of bug repellent should I use while pregnant? According to the Center for Disease Control, use a bug repellent that is registered with the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), and use the repellent following the directions on the packaging. The CDC says that “when used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.” The EPA has a great tool to find out if your bug repellent is registered, click here to use it. Or check the label of your bug repellent for an EPA Registration number.