My intention was to stay fairly active during my pregnancy, which was somewhat derailed by the fact that I slept almost non-stop for the entire first trimester. When I finally emerged from that, and from my next teaching placement, I was eager to hit the trails. So, when I was about 16 weeks along Dean and I decided to take another crack at the George Bass Walk. We’d hiked it before, but we wanted something that was familiar but still challenging for my first run at hiking with the little passenger aboard.
We leave in darkness and make the two hour or so drive down to the Bass Coast, arriving not long after sunrise to the starting point of the George Bass Walk. The first time we hiked the trail, we did it from the Shelley Beach Carpark near Kilcunda, but this time we wanted to do it in reverse. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t make the entire distance, and I preferred the second half of it last time anyway. So we started at the Punchbowl Road carpark, and began our meandering down the marked trail. The George Bass Walk awaited.
I love starting hikes with the first light of morning. There’s something that’s just so fresh about it. The trail is laced with dawn dew and there’s the steady sound of birdsong as the day wakes up around you. Starting from Punchbowl Road, the George Bass Walk dips in and out of the sun, with the path trailing through tunnels of overhanging branches before emerging into sunlight and views of the sea. We meander along at a slower pace than usual, conscious of the slip-factor on the moss-laden ground and my own energy reserves, relishing the sound of morning waves crashing against the rocks along the coastline. The swell is up along with the tide, and you can tell even from all the way up here.
Not far into our stroll, we’re tempted by what Dean says is ‘definitely the trail’, even though I’m quite aware it is not. Still, we head down a little hill, on the road less travelled you might say, and actually end up on a lovely detour, where we wander along a highly secluded beach and see the sun rising from behind the cliff on an rocky ocean spit, the rays of golden light floating hazy all around us. We take a small but calculated risk walking out onto the rocks, thankful for good hiking boots and rocks with a surprisingly large amount of traction. It’s stunning, and with the beating of the waves like a drum, I feel like I could stay there all day.
Too bad the rest of the George Bass Walk is still ahead.
In the end, we don’t make it all the way, as expected. I take a small fall towards the end of the walk prior to turning around. It’s just a slip in the mud, and I land on the soft moss and grass right on my butt. Still, the shock is enough to turn me into a blubbering mess that requires a sit down and a few deep breaths to contain myself. It’s scary the realisation that you’re the protector of another human life with just your own body, I don’t think I quite realised that until that moment.
After that, we opt to turn around and make our way back. The George Bass Walk feels a lot shorter on the return, but I find hikes are often like that. As is always the case, we start to encounter large groups of people as we near the end and our waiting car. These folks, just getting started around 11am, always surprise me because I just couldn’t imagine wanting to hike in the hottest, sunniest part of the day. Even in the winter, I’m fond of getting started with the sun, if nothing else than for the beautiful morning light. I suppose not everyone is motivated by their photographs!
We also took my new tripod along so we could take some pictures of the two of us together, which was probably the main motivation for actually getting the tripod in the first place. Clearly we still have to practice our casual photography poses. It was super bright and I have massive light sensitivity, so I’m displaying the classic Oceana-squint-pose. I thought I’d left my sunglasses at home, only to realise when we got back in the car after finishing the George Bass Walk that they had actually been in Dean’s bag (which was with us) the entire time.
Baby brain is a real thing guys.
Anyway, even with my super squinty face the view is great, so I’m still calling this photo a win. It celebrates one of our first hikes as a family of three (kind of), and it was a good learning experience for us on pregnancy hiking. Want my tips for hiking when pregnant? Read on!
7 Simple Pregnancy Hiking Tips
Double Your Water Estimation
Whatever you might have needed for a hike in the past, you probably want to double it for a pregnant hike. This is particularly true when you’re hiking in warm weather, as it is very easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy. So carry extra water with you and remember to take regular stops so you can hydrate along the way.
Bring Extra Snacks
I rarely packed hiking snacks before I got pregnant, but I’m glad I changed my behaviour for pregnancy hiking because I was starving. You’re burning more energy now that you’re pregnant, not just because your body is working on growing a person, but also you’re carrying that growing person around with you. Bring healthy, energy dense foods to snack on to help keep your body going. Things like nuts or nutty trail mix and fruit are great options.
Go Easy On Yourself
It can be frustrating being pregnant in some respects. You want to do the things you enjoy in the way you’ve always done them. Go easy on yourself ladies! Remember you are doing something that is spectacularly difficult every second of every day, so if you’re hiking when you’re pregnant just take it easy on yourself. Pushing yourself can be good, but knowing your limits is even better. Stop for breaks as you need them, and don’t feel rushed to do hikes in the same time that you did them before you fell pregnant. It’s all about the journey, so soak it in!
Watch The Slopes
The further along you get in your pregnancy, the more unbalanced you become, which means it’s super important to watch out for slopes in your hikes. Going up is now more exhausting than it probably was before, and going down can be a nightmare as pregnant women are often very forward weighted, which can make it hard to keep balance. Wear shoes with fantastic grip, and really take it slow on the inclines.
Be Safety Conscious
Going off the beaten track can be heaps of fun, but when you’re pregnant it isn’t always a good idea, particularly if you’re hiking in an area you’re unfamiliar with. If something happened, particularly towards the end of your pregnancy, you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere. Tell people where you’re going, bring an emergency contact device, don’t hike alone if you can avoid it, and stick to the marked trail. Safety is always important when you’re hiking, but when you’re pregnant there’s another person to think about too!
Bring Toilet Paper/Wipes
Any pregnant woman can confirm that you pee a lot when you’re growing a human being, which means you’re more than likely to need to pee during your hike. Be prepared for it, and bring what you need such as toilet paper or wipes. Remember to practice Leave No Trail by bringing a little baggie to pack out your toilet paper or wipes, or if you don’t want this stick to trails that have bathrooms along the way.
Talk To Your Doctor
In many cases (but certainly not all) any activity you did before pregnancy you can do afterwards. Still, if you’re planning a long hike, double checking with your doctor beforehand is always a good idea, just to be sure.