My Third and Fourth Trimesters of Pregnancy as a Hiker
I thought I’d round up my exercise and hiking activity for my third trimester of pregnancy, as well as the fourth trimester (the first 3 months postpartum) together. I was originally thinking of doing two separate posts, but by the end of my third trimester I was so exhausted, that I put it off. And, of course, with a newborn, it was difficult to find the time to reflect. But now that we’ve passed the newborn stage and we’re starting to get the hang of things, I’ve finally been able to get back into blogging.
The first 3 months postpartum are called the “fourth trimester” because it is a transitional period in which the baby is adjusting to the world and the parents are adjusting to life with the new baby.
Previous posts in this series –
My Third Trimester
My third trimester lasted from November 2020 through giving birth on February 4, 2021.
In my third trimester the growing weight of baby in my stomach was giving me back pain. In addition, by that time my uterus was really pressing on my bladder and I couldn’t go anywhere outside for more than an hour, or even half an hour as the trimester went on, without needing to go to the bathroom. As a result, my exercise during this time focused on walking around the neighborhood and doing prenatal yoga.
In November and December I was still able to do two types of exercise in a day, such as a 30 min walk as well as a little bit of yoga. In December I did a lot of yoga to counteract my back pain. In the final month and a half my energy dropped off, so I would stick to one activity a day.
For prenatal yoga I used the Down Dog Prenatal Yoga app as well as some YouTube videos.
This was my favorite 15 min stretching routine to do at bedtime to relieve various pregnancy pains: “Pregnancy Stretching Routine” by Haley – Lets Mama
I included gardening and vacuuming as “other” exercises during this trimester, because they really felt like a workout at that point.
My last hike before giving birth was around Lagerman Reservoir (1.6 miles, 20 ft elevation gain) with a friend two days before giving birth.
On February 4, 2021 I gave birth to our daughter Yuzu via C-section. It was a scheduled C-section because our baby was breech.
Almost everything went smoothly, with the exception that I got a spinal headache – spinal fluid leaking from where they gave me the spinal anesthesia gave me a headache whenever I sat up. So, in addition to having to recover from surgery, I was bedridden for a couple weeks postpartum to aid the healing of that hole in my spine.
My Fourth Trimester (First 3 Months Postpartum)
Following my C-section, the doctors recommended moving around a little to help with recovery. I wasn’t able to move around as much as I would have liked at the beginning because of the spinal headache. But by 3 weeks postpartum, I started going out for 15 to 30 minute walks.
Around week 4 I was able to go for a walk for 1 hour, but I felt exhausted afterwards. I decided to take it easier and limited my walks to 30 to 40 minutes for the next 2 weeks until my doctor gave me the all-clear for normal exercise at my 6 week postpartum appointment.
Fourth Trimester Hikes
On weekends my husband and I swap off baby duty during our exercise times – on Saturday mornings he will go to the climbing gym, and I go for hikes on Sunday mornings. I basically have a 4 hour window to get ready, drive to the location, hike for 2-2.5 hours maximum, drive home, and take a shower before needing to pump or feed our baby. While I’m out my husband feeds the baby pumped breastmilk.
Hikes, in the order completed –
- Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds Loop (6 weeks postpartum)
- 2.3 miles, 100 ft elevation gain
- Joder Ranch Trail (7 weeks postpartum)
- 4 miles, 700 ft elevation gain
- Rabbit Mountain Eagle Wind Loop, twice (8 weeks and 9 weeks postpartum)
- 4 miles, 350 ft elevation gain
- Little Thompson Overlook Trail attempt (got caught in a thunderstorm, 10 weeks postpartum)
- 2.8 miles, 400 ft elevation gain
- Double Hogback Mountain Loop (11 weeks postpartum)
- 3.9 miles, 1,500 ft elevation gain
- Royal Arch (12 weeks postpartum)
- 3.2 miles, 1,400 ft elevation gain
I started out with relatively easy hikes, and felt ready for more challenging exercise by 11 weeks postpartum.
If you may remember from my First Trimester of Pregnancy as a Hiker post, I was unable to hike Joder Ranch in my first trimester due to fatigue. I remember quite vividly being unable to hike up the hill there and crying on my way back to the car in disappointment and frustration. It was so refreshing to finally be able to complete this “easy” hike again.
I’ve found that being able to get outside into nature and having a solid exercise session once a week has done wonders for both my mental and physical health.
After my doctor gave me the green light to exercise again at 6 weeks postpartum I exercised in some capacity every day for about a month. I did a combination of neighborhood walking, yoga, hiking, and muscle training/short YouTube HIIT training videos.
This did help me to get back into the swing of moving my body and working on my muscles. Our baby only naps for about 30 minutes at a time, so I would make sure to wear exercise clothes during the day, and then use her nap time to get in 20-30 minutes of exercise. Sometimes less if I needed to wash bottles.
This felt good and productive for a while, until I realized that I was getting quite tired and irritable, especially near the end of the week. I decided it was unsustainable and cut back the constant exercise and prioritized napping when baby naps instead. Since then I usually go for a couple 1 hour walks in the neighborhood each week on top of my weekly hike. This has been working for me and I am no longer exhausted.
From my pregnancy and postpartum period I have learned to be kind to myself, slow things down, and exercise only to the point that my body feels comfortable. It’s a lesson that I’ve had to re-learn again and again throughout the process. Often I would think that I could do more, because that was what my body was used to previously, and be surprised at my limitations. But even with limitations, there are different types of exercise that are doable throughout the experience, barring the first couple weeks postpartum.
Although I couldn’t hike as much as I would have liked while I was pregnant, or in the postpartum period, I am satisfied with how I have managed the process. And of course it was all worth it, because now we have our precious daughter Yuzu, who means the world to us. I would do it all over again for her, and for any potential future children.