Pregnancy and climbing

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 Jessclimbs 19 Nov 2021

Pregnancy and Climbing - what I've learnt mainly is theres not much chat about it... or much gear for it either! Hoping this starts the discussion. 

Im now 24 weeks pregnant climbing in Scotland, currently climbing indoors with the weather and short daylight. I'm making climbing sessions a minimum of once a week, average twice a week and haven't really slowed down on bottom rope as haven't needed to yet which is awesome. Climbing is my way of having fun, releasing stress and catching up with pals and aiding positive mental health. I think I've mainly managed to continue by constantly working on improving my technique with footwork and the Dave MacLeod thumb wrap crimp I saw in one of his videos. The footwork improvements have been essential in keeping me going after damaging my rotator cuff, I believe this was due to the release of the hormone relaxin in pregnancy causing extra stretch in my tendons leading to over stretch and a slight tear or strain. Home physio and good footwork are keeping me going and significantly reducing the pain and helping to heal while still climbing. 

Indoor wall grade around 6 , Tuesday night a flash of 6b+ which I was super chuffed with and left the wall feeling absolutely delighted. For most that may be a typical grade but for me that's the top of my range so far, which made it all that more sweet a win. Left the wall buzzing and obsessing over every move, toe placement, drop knee, smooth toe swap and nice crimps. That's what it's all about for me  

Would love to hear about other pregnant ladies climbs, experience and goals. 

J x 

In reply to Jessclimbs:

Hi Jess,

I have lots to say about this having climbed all 40 weeks (with modifications for safety and size but otherwise, I suspect, not a significant drop in “performance”). Caveat: sample size of one and I had a decent run of it physically in all three trimesters, through a combination of luck and hard work.

Gearwise my surprise win combo was wearing Patagonia centred tights under the bump and pulling down arc’teryx c’esta tank over. I got a Mountain Mama harness from Mad Rock when I needed to switch out of sit harness, but know many people use the petzl full body too.

Currently 6 weeks postpartum and so logistics for getting out climbing or writing lengthier post slightly hampered at the moment! But putting this here as a statement of intent to answer properly ASAP…

Failing that, it might be practically easier to me to arrange a zoom chat (via Women’s Climbing Symposium) for anyone who wants to discuss? That’s not me wishing to take this off the forum by the way (think it’s very important that this is discussed on the forum!!!) but more the reality of early week baby care challenges! 

 tjdodd 20 Nov 2021
 Kevster 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

Although not a lady myself, thought I'd join the chat.

I think lots of ladies climb whilst pregnant with their first, my Mrs, and a few of my friends have too. 

Our experience of climbing was that through semester 1 and 2 pregnancy & climbing was fine - through to full term didnt really appeal to Mrs Kev so she didnt. Used a pregnancy harness and maternity leggings - seemed to work. 

We experienced some attitude from other climbers tbh. Amazing the opinions people hold over such things.

The whole relaxin hormone and becoming more "stretchy" and prone to injury really needs to be considered imo. 

After the baby arrived it became more difficult and through toddlerhood even more so. Not wanting to hijack the thread but this is the part which became far less compatible. A friend managed to tag team with their belayer and baby in a sling - she climbed weekly as a pair with the baby - whilst it was in the sling and sleepy. Our baby was too much of a wriggler for a sling swapping arrangement, and birth isnt always easy for recovery. On top of this mothers seem to become more risk aware/ adverse and tbh most of my direct experience has resulted in the mother almost or totally stopping climbing. Which is a shame, but they all seem OK with that as a compromise of having a family.

As a father I too have almost stopped climbing - time, sleep and the fact we live 2.5 hrs plus from a crag all contribute. We also dont have lots of family for babysitting nearby so have to take junior one way or another or have one of us sit at home. The impact to my primary past time has been massive. I went from climbing several times a week, out side 3 time a month to arranging a handful of trips a year and indoors a dozen times a year max. I dont boulder often as I have had knee surgery and dont want the regular impact etc

An indoor wall is not a place for a toddler to have free reign. Some climbing clubs do not welcome children either. Both myself and Mrs Kev were previously well established (committee) in the local club and have basically been excluded from being an active member because a few other members object to kids and on trips/ in the campsites etc - like I'm going to ab into a gogarth E2 with a 3 year old present... But such is the tapestry of life. 

A child at a crag isnt always a good idea - I've always liked the adventurous days out, but there are some arrangements which I could see work. We just havent found that happy medium and so climbing has fallen to an occasional "selfish" sideline.

Again plenty of attitudes about babies and younger children at a wall / crag too. 

Hopefully others can paint a better more balanced view. 

Best, Kev. 

 mattrm 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

Hieke of this parish wrote an article about it as well, as the more recent one:

I found a few other threads while trying to find that article:

HTH.  Can't comment any further and my wife doesn't climb.  Good luck with your pregnancy and I hope you enjoy your climbing while you are pregnant.

Post edited at 08:17
 Stegosaur 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

> Pregnancy and Climbing - what I've learnt mainly is theres not much chat about it...

> Would love to hear about other pregnant ladies climbs, experience and goals. 

> J x 

The topic is discussed in an episode of the Curious Climber podcast titled "Stacy Sims: Training and Exercise in Pregnancy".

 sheelba 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

In reply to Jessclimbs:

My partner isn’t on UKC. She climbed in the early stages of pregnancy a fair bit, had good days on Pillar and Napes. Stopped climbing though when it became a bit too stressful as the bump got bigger (about 6 months). Everyone we met was super supportive of us getting out. Had the baby early September and have now tentatively got back climbing indoors and outdoors. Naomi led her first trad route for over a year a week or so ago whilst her sister looked after the baby in a sling. The new bouldering wall in Lancaster is great whilst she’s still immobile, Kendal wall means taking turns with friends. 

Mainly very keen to find others in the same boat in South Lakes North Lancs area for indoors and outdoors so drop us a message if anyone is interested. 

 TheGeneralist 20 Nov 2021


Post edited at 10:08
 Heike 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

In reply to Jessclimbs:

Hi there,

I climbed pretty much til giving birth. And the first trip thereafter was a few weeks later. I guess it depends on how you are feeling. I never felt that bad apart from being slightly heavier than normal....Another issue towards the end was not being able to see your feet Wee man is now 12 and a better climber than me. Can't have done him much harm!

Just do what you are comfortable and happy with!

Best wishes for a happy pregnancy and life beyond!

 iccle_bully 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

Thanks for starting such a positive thread. 

I climbed until about 7 months with both my pregnancies, I was 10 days postpartum when I started climbing after my first (C-section) and 2 weeks after my second (vbac). 

I have 2 main things that I learned about climbing during pregnancy...

1) listen to your body - which sounds simple but when your body is doing new and weird things it can be so hard, but listen as hard as you can and don't push. 

2) go out/to the wall with the expectation of having fun, if you get something done that's a bonus. There are days when I felt great and strong and flashed hard things, there are days when it felt too much of an effort to even get my shoes on.

That last one goes for climbing with kids actually too!! We're boulderers so the logistics are much easier but both our kids have always loved being out and still do. Crag choice is vital! I have seen my climbing improve after both of my pregnancies and I am fitter and stronger both mentally and physically than I was before, I think limited time has made me much more strategic with any training/climbing/running time I do get. But the big thing that has changed is my ability to try hard, not sure if it is because I am now much more aware of how much my body can do now or if it's because I'm short of time so have to cram it in!!

Beth Rodden wrote a lot about her pregnancy in 2014 so could be worth a look through her archives. I seem to think Mina has written several things recently too. Oh and the lady that runs Rock Tots ( Rachel something) was interviewed by hazel Finley on their podcast I think and that's worth a listen. 

Good luck, enjoy and if you take one thing from any of my ramblings take this... DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES.

 iccle_bully 22 Nov 2021
In reply to iccle_bully

The latest blog on here is beta for climbing during each trimester. X

 hollie_w 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

I climbed until 41 weeks with #1, petzl full body harness from about 21 weeks. Lidl maternity leggings were my best bet, and just sacrificed a couple of my older tops to being over-stretched (but wore them all the time, not just climbing). Did drop down grades a lot at the end, but considering I couldn't see my feet I think that was fair enough, I was happy to just still be going and feeling good. Fairly straightforward birth, and was back doing easy climbing at about week 8/9, I think? Albeit still in full body harness, I found the first few times in normal harness a bit of a mental challenge - as others have mentioned upthread I have found my risk aversion increased a lot. I climbed outside a reasonable amount in thefirst 8 months, but being much more picky about crag location and weather conditions. Baby also came along to the wall a good few times, especially in evenings when he would just nap, either in car seat or sling, we were always as a group of 3+ so me and OH could share baby duties.

Once he got older it got more tricky to do wall evenings - too disruptive to routine and a few hours climbing wasn't worth the bad nights sleep and grumpy following day, especially after I went back to work after mat leave. This coincided with heading into winter so climbing outside because much less appealing with keeping him warm and safe whilst desperate to be crawling. And as it got into spring when he could sort-of walk, covid/lockdown started so climbing stopped.

Baby #2 pregnancy coincided with covid and building work on our house, so I didn't go climbing at all, and I haven't been since birth either (#2 is now 9m) - organising childcare for 2, or wrangling both of them either at a crag or a wall just isn't worth it, for me. OH goes climbing still, albeit less than he would like (as Kevster mentioned) - again combined with house renovating, what little free time is probably better not spent driving nearly 2 hours each way to wall/crag.

Hopefully next spring I'll be able to start doing more again (more than nothing isn't exactly a lot though!), but it might be that I have to take a day off work when both kids are in childcare...we'll see. Climbing will always be there, the kids are only going to be little once.

 PaulJepson 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

I've seen quite a bit about it the past couple of years. There was a UKC article (already linked) and the BMC had a big article in one of their Summit magazines reasonably recently (although I can't remember if this was climbing or hill-walking specific). 

It'd be worth having a look at oneuponaclimb on youtube, as I think they posted quite a few videos about Caro climbing whilst and after being pregnant. 

 Iamgregp 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

Obviously I've never been pregnant myself but other half doesn't post so thought I'd chip in.

She had a Petzl full body harness and managed to top rope 6a+ outdoor about two weeks before due date.  The stretchy ligament thing did give her some trouble, especially in her knee, which required a bit of physio and her coccyx was very tender too...  

Her bump never really got too massive so she managed to climb pretty much till she was due (on top rope), and always got lots of positive reactions and praise for sticking with it.

Post partum we're obviously not climbing as much (used to go to the wall at least once or twice a week) but are both grabbing a little hour or so of bouldering here and there when we can. 

Out little girl was born at the end of June and we had a weekend away in Portland at the end of August (just be very careful on the approaches and pick the crags where you know it's an easy walk in) and 2 weeks in Kalymnos in October (same applies to approaches).  Big tip is to take a baby bouncer seat thing to the crag with you, so that you can pop them down on that if you need a rest from holding and carrying them, or if they need a little nap. 

Again, almost 100% positive reaction to baby at the crag, it helps that our daughter is a smiley little thing that doesn't cry much but always be prepared to take them off for a walk round the corner if they do start crying as you don't want people being distracted on their project!

All in all life is different with the little one, but it's still recognisable as our life (or at least a version of) and we still manage to get out!

BY the way the pregnancy harness is for sale if anyone wants it!  DM me if you're interested, hasn't been used much!

Post edited at 10:21
 Iamgregp 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Rebecca Ting - UKC and Rockfax:

If you do go ahead with a zoom chat I'm sure my other half would love to be involved.  She and our daughter were at WCS the other weekend....

 stubbed 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

I wish I could say the same but I had uncomfortable pregnancies and much as I'd have liked to continue climbing, I just couldn't. I couldn't even get in a bath or sit in a chair for most of my first pregnancy. All I would say to other pregnant climbers is don't be too hard on yourself if you can't manage it.

My husband's not a climber so going to wall has never been an issue for me. More that full time work + children makes it more difficult to find the time.

On the plus side, nearly 10 years on, my children and I love a scramble & boulder these days. I am finally training up a couple of belay partners.

 cregwillis 24 Nov 2021
In reply to Jessclimbs:

My wife stopped climbing as soon as she had the positive test in her hands. It was her first pregnancy and she is always worry to much about everything. 

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