Ice climbing Pregnant – 2015 Ice Recap
I get a lot of interesting reactions when people find out I am ice climbing pregnant. Ice climbers seem to think that it is awesome and they praise me for staying active, but non ice climbers seem to think I am a bit crazy and that it is very dangerous for me and the baby. After being told numerous times that I should probably “stop” I decided to write about it.
When I found out I would be fairly pregnant during ice climbing season I did a ton of research about it. Most articles I found led me to also think that the only activities that were safe to do while pregnant are walking and swimming. This is not true. Or at least, I don’t believe it is. If all you did before your pregnancy was walk and swim, then yes, those are the safest activities for you to do. But for those who were active in other activities before your pregnancy you most likely can continue those activities (depending what they are) while pregnant. I continued to research and came across a few blogs about rock climbing while pregnant as well as a harness that is designed specifically for pregnant women: The Mountain Mama Maternity Harness. I purchased the harness, spoke to my midwife about my activities and continued to ice climb.
Because of the late season we had for ice, I was 6 months pregnant when the ice was finally good enough to climb so we set off for some early ice.
(6 months pregnant)
Bancroft tends to be one of the first areas with good ice to climb around us. We usually only go once a year and it is usually our first destination. I have had people comment on how my rope is tied because the knot is so far from my harness and it could hit me in the face, but I just can’t seem to get it much closer to my body than this due to layers & my new chest. It works, keeps me safe, and keeps me climbing.
(7 months pregnant)
The ice was definitely thinner than last year when we were there but it was fairly fresh since the lakes had just finally froze enough to be safe to cross. There was already another group there when we arrived but they were nice enough to share the cliff with us. This was the only climb in, or at least the only one in that we wanted to climb (we don’t do mixed).
One thing about climbing pregnant is I require some help. My husband has to help me tie my boots, put on my crampons, knock snow off my boots/crampons, help me with my harness, etc… It’s kind of like being a kid again 🙂
(7.5 months pregnant)
Bow Lake was new for us this year. We had never been before so we were excited to check it out. It was in the -20c’s so what I really liked about Bow Lake was that it was a bit off the lake and we were able to have a fire at the base of the cliff. It really helped keep us warm in between climbs.
Last but not least, our local cliff….
(6-9 months pregnant and still climbing)
It’s a bit early to be doing an ice recap since the ice is still good but I am currently 37 weeks (9 months + 1 week) and this is technically considered “full term” although my “due date” is March 25th. If we continue to climb which we probably will, we will only be climbing at Calabogie since it is close to our house and has a short approach.
Calabogie’s ice season did not get off to a good start this year because what had started to form melted over the Christmas break but maybe that helped it a bit too, because now the ice is in great condition other than the fact that every climb there is super stepped out because there has been many clubs and people out climbing every weekend. Although, I am okay with that because it makes climbing much easier for me this year.
One common question I get about climbing while pregnant is “what if you fall”? It’s really hard to answer because if you’ve never watched people ice climb before it is hard to imagine. First of all, I am only climbing stuff that I feel comfortable on and second of all, I really trust my belayer. My husband keeps me very tight while I climb so that if I were to “fall” it would be like I was sitting in a swing. If at any point I feel like I might fall, or if I simply need a break I will tell Mike to “tighten up” and he holds me there while I sit in my harness (just like a swing at the park). The way I climb is actually beneficial to the baby’s position. If you want your baby in the optimal position you are suppose to lean forward quite a bit so to me, ice climbing is actually safer than laying back on my couch watching episodes of Friends.
Not only does my husband help me get dressed for ice climbing but he lets me wear his clothes. Luckily he has two of everything so I wear his down jacket, shell jacket and splash pants. Underneath I wear Columbia and Mountain Mama under layers.
I feel really safe and comfortable while I am ice climbing. It keeps me happy and being happy keeps me healthy. You know what I find uncomfortable and super awkward? Getting in and out of my car! Ice climbing is actually easier on my body than snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and watching TV. But that’s just me. Everyone’s different.
The opinions expressed above are my own. Please consult your doctor/midwife about doing any activity while pregnant (but if you don’t like their answer don’t be afraid to get a second opinion).