Hiking with Gestational Diabetes

Hiking is an important part of my lifestyle.  I love the chance to be outside and exploring and see nature in all its glory.  It is especially important right now during the Covid 19 pandemic. Our local government has just lowered restrictions so we are allowed to go for hikes.  But hiking with gestational diabetes seemed a little intimidating to me at first.  Here is a guide for what you need for a safe hike with gestational diabetes. 

The most important thing during pregnancy is to have your doctor’s approval before you do any exercise while pregnant.  After you have your doctor’s approval, the next step is to choose your hike.  Either by googling "hikes near me", or going to some old favorites, make sure you know what type of terrain you are going to, how long the hike is, and how long it will probably take you.  Make sure the hike is something you would have been able to do pre-pregnancy.  This is not the time to push yourself to brand new limits. 

The next step is to gather your gear for your hike.  You want the standard supplies:

  • Water

  • Hiking boots

  • Rain gear

  • Hiking poles

As well as some additional gear.  For pregnancy in general its a good idea to have compression socks or tights to help with blood flow.  The hiking poles are especially important now with your body producing the hormone relaxin, it can make it easier to twist an ankle.  Another good item is some type of belly support.  I use a Tubigrip given to me by my doctor. A lot of people love the belly band.  There are lots of different types out there, find one that works for you.  This is important for comfort levels. I get more aches and pains when I'm not wearing belly support.  And now you need the most important items, food!  

In general, while doing long strenuous exercise with gestational diabetes you want to consume around 15g of carbs for every hour of exercise to keep your blood glucose levels from dropping too low. Some of my favorite snacks are:

  • Protein bars

  • Trail mix

  • Apples with peanut butter. 

It is a good idea to pack your testing kit as well.  Especially if you are on insulin you will need a hypo kit in case you get hypoglycemic, which means your blood glucose levels drop too low.  For a hypo kit you will need your testing kit, some form of quick energy, I use glucose jelly beans and some form of slower digesting carbs, I use a protein bar.  

Now you should have everything you need to hike.   For me personally, I like to eat a higher carb meal at the trailhead and set my timer for two hours.  When the timer goes off, we take a break so I can check my glucose levels.  At that point, I pull out a snack and set my timer for 1 hour.  I try to finish my snack within that hour and pull out the next snack when the timer goes off.  Once you make it back to the car, you should have another carb and protein snack to replenish your glucose levels.  And then have your normal meal after the hike.  While your body does continue to burn carbs after you are finished exercising, grabbing fast-food on your way home from the hike does not give you a license to eat whatever you want.  That’s how I got my worst spike.  You will need to go back to counting carbs for this meal. 

I hope this makes you feel more confident to hike with gestational Diabetes.  


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