The Pregnant Hiker’s Dilemma

So, I’m 9 weeks pregnant!

Shhh, I haven’t spilled the beans to everyone yet, just my immediate family. I would loooooove to hike the A.T. pregnant! What better way to introduce a new life onto this Earth than by walking it during the majority of my pregnancy? However, I’m also a health-conscious person who likes to be prepared and wants to check up on my growing fetus throughout my pregnancy. Full disclosure, I was hoping to get pregnant before my hike (crazy, I know). I only started planning the hike in October, while I’ve been hoping to get pregnant since August. . I want to be honest with my healthcare providers and have their support, but I received the advice that anyone would expect: Hold off the hike and stay close to home. I could section hike the northern parts of the A.T., but even then, I probably wouldn’t start in March, with the winter forecast Maine is getting. I completely agree with the importance of “continuity of care,” but because so much is virtual now, why can’t I go to a free clinic in North Carolina (or wherever I’ll be) and have them fax a sonogram over to my OB? To be fair, I have yet to meet with my OB. Just my primary physician, who doesn’t think I’ll get thrilling feedback about my plan to head down to Georgia as I start my second trimester.

What do I do?

I read all the blogs about pregnant women hiking the A.T. (there aren’t that many) and some of them section-hiked while others did a thru-hike. I’d like to be one of those thru-hikers because of my time constraint (I’m starting school again in the fall or next spring, and of course I’ll have a newborn by September) and to be an inspiration. I believe that I can stay healthy and gain the right amount of weight during my hike/pregnancy. So, I feel that from a spiritual perspective, I shouldn’t give up on my goal of hiking the A.T. pregnant. My doctor didn’t call me crazy, just that if I hike this way, I won’t be getting the kind of care that I would ideally like during a pregnancy. Which is fair, considering all the research I’ve done pre-pregnancy. And the public health figure I hope to be one day. But maybe getting back to nature and proving that all you need for a healthy pregnancy is good fats and proteins, along with vitamin D and exercise, will be the beginning of my impact on young women struggling to change the current stigma of pregnancy. Not that my provider advocates for me to sit on the couch. On the contrary, she did CrossFit throughout her entire first pregnancy. I’m not a doctor or an NP (yet) so I can’t argue that I’ll take care of myself, but how much will I really need to go into the office during my pregnancy?

Almost threw my dream out the window.

As I left the doctor’s office my heart was a bit sunken because I had to either call my mom and husband and tell them that I’m not hiking; that I have to set up a new plan or, stick to my first grandiose idea and be that crazy girl who defied her doctor’s recommendation and started her pregnancy with nearly no supervision or care. To be fair, some women don’t do pregnancy through the conventional healthcare system and bear perfectly healthy babies. I’d like to find a balance, preferably without putting my providers in shock. How do I go into the office (today, my appointment is at 3pm) and say, “hey, I want to hike the entirety of the A.T. during my second and third trimesters – up until I nearly give birth.” I feel shaky just typing this. Is it easier to lie and say that I’m travelling or going on a road trip? While I sound confident on paper, I don’t always express myself clearly and strongly in front of figures of authority. Nevertheless, I’ve always been that girl who goes out and does her own thing, regardless of other people’s reactions. I will make a plan, to go into free clinics or Planned Parenthood and track my pregnancy along the A.T. This is what I want to do. I can’t believe I was considering, for even a second, not hiking this spring.

My fetus at 8 weeks:

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