You are the adventurous type and love the outdoors and most importantly you love to rappel. Whether expected or not you have a significant change that will affect your life forever. You discover you are pregnant. Congrats! Now the first thought for an average person would be is it a boy or is it a girl but for you, someone who loves to rappel, you are not the average person. One of your first questions is, “Can I go rappelling pregnant?”
To set things straight I am not a medical professional so do not take what I share and decide that this information will supersede any direction provided by your doctor. Each pregnancy is unique and each pregnant mother differs in their level of health, physical capabilities, diet, and what the doctor deems to be in the best interest of the mother and the child. Please, before rappelling consult your doctor if you have any concerns to understand what some of the risks could be for your specific pregnancy. Don’t exert yourself beyond what you are able to and put the child at risk.
Now that being said, someone who is pregnant may rappel; however, there is additional risk with carrying a child. Does this risk outweigh the activity, you be the judge of that.
I want to give some specifics though of what to expect if you decide to rappel after consulting with you doctor and what additional precautions to take.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends to avoid any activities with an increased risk of falling which would include rappelling. There are other potential risks as well but if you are already experienced in rappelling and climbing you are aware of the risks of the sport. Even if you have an advanced level of expertise in rappelling and plan to rappel anyways, please take time to thoroughly plan for every possible scenario that could arise to mitigate any issues.
In most pregnancies it is great to exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are many benefits that can arise from exercise while pregnant such as: reduced aches and pains, increased energy, improved mood (your spouse or partner will be happier if you are happier), improved delivery of oxygen and more. Typically the types of exercise recommended by an OBGYN will be something more controlled and in an extremely safe environment such as yoga or swimming.
Being Safe While Rappelling Pregnant
These are some recommended steps that you can take to keep yourself and the baby safe while rappelling.
- Rappel in First Trimester – It is recommended that if rappelling pregnant to do so while within the first trimester. I mean the baby is just an itty bitty thing at this point. Typically any exertion or strenuous activity will not impact the child but don’t push yourself too much. You have a living baby growing in you and if you put yourself in harm it will in turn put your child in harm. Also, in the first trimester you should still be able to use a normal harness, but again use your own judgment of what will work for you based off your bodily changes.
- Harness to Use – When the abdomen begins to protrude a normal harness will place undue pressure on the fetus. This could lead to additional risk. At this point I would highly recommend a full body harness if you have a restless spirit that drives you to continue to rappel even longer. More details will be shared on this type of harness and what type of support it provides.
- Rappel Familiar Cliffs – Descend cliffs or areas that you are familiar with. Familiarity leads to less potential hazards and mistakes.
- Take Easier Mapped Routes – The point is to be able to get out and rappel safely but still have a good time. If you take simple routes this will lead to less strain on your body and on the baby’s body. You will still be able to get in the exercise you need and enjoy the outdoors while being safe.
- Don’t go solo – This is a general rule when rappelling but especially when you are pregnant. Have someone present to be the spotter for you.
- Pick Sturdy and Firm Terrains – Avoid areas that have loose debris or are known for rock falls. On that note make sure you are wearing a helmet so even if you go somewhere that is safe, you will still be protected against the unexpected rock fall.
- Controlled Descent – As you rappel make sure that your descent is smooth and controlled. Do not cause any unnecessary jolts or bounce excessively. Any jumping or sudden movements can be unhealthy for a child, especially if you are beyond your first term.
- Evaluate Health Changes – As you get further in your pregnancy your body weight will increase and other changes will take effect. At each stage continue to evaluate your health and seek medical advice. Listen to the directions given to you by your doctor and then make sound decisions based off this consultation. The doctor will only share what is best for you and the child and if followed you should still be able to rappel safely.
Throughout this process continue to stretch and perform low intensity yoga to maintain flexibility and conditioning for rappelling. The better prepared that you are to rappel while pregnant will lead to increased endurance, less physical strain, and improved overall performance.
Recommended Rappelling Pregnant Gear
There is only one additional piece of gear that you will need when rappelling while pregnant which is the full body harness. All of the other rappelling equipment will stay the same. The full body harness can be used in the first trimester or in later trimesters if a normal harness suits your needs just fine in the early pregnancy stages. I will be recommending a full body harness that was specially made for pregnant women but you can also check local listings to see if anyone is selling a used one that you could buy. Like any used purchase make sure that you are able to view the harness in person or buy from a reliable source so that you know it is still in great condition.
A highly rated and recommended pregnancy harness is ‘The Mountain Mama’ by Mad Rock (View on Amazon). This is specific for pregnant mothers who can only tame their urges by going into the great outdoors and breathing in that fresh air.
The Mountain Mama specific details on this harness are as follows:
- “Full-body adjustable harness” – This is a must as your body goes through significant changes during pregnancy.
- “Innovative molded padded leg loops“- Need I say more? Increased padding that fits comfortably on the leg.
- “X’-Strap design at mid-back that supports and cradles the torso“
- “Wide, flexible webbing”
- “Open design through the midsection accommodates a growing belly without bunching or squeezing” – This fantastic feature increases comfort for the mother and her child.
- “Side webbing connects low and away from the chest to allow a full-range of arm motion”
This specialized harness also includes 2 gear loops, has self-locking buckles, and a claimed weight of 1 lb 15 oz. No need to find the right fit either as the The Mountain Mama is a one size fits all. This definitely supports a rappelling pregnant women’s body.
“You can’t take the mountain out of the mama, especially when Mad Rock made the Women’s Mountain Mama Harness specifically for pregnant climbers. When Mad Rocks says this harness is fully adjustable, they mean exactly that; the legs, waist, and flexible back all adjust to grow and shrink with the entire nine month process. The back X-Strap adds support where future mommies want it.”
The full body harness will definitely feel different from what you are used to. It will also require tightening and arranging the straps to conform with the fit of the body allowing the harness to provide the right support for a rappelling pregnant mother to be. Because of how you will be situated when rappelling, there may be some minor discomfort with how your weight is proportioned on your body as you descend but don’t let this cloud the enjoyment that can be had from rappelling.
Overall many other customers have provided their strong opinions and reviews of The Mountain Mama and have praised it. The feedback from the majority of users has demonstrated their appreciation for this harness which has met or exceeded the expectations of climbing mamas everywhere. This is an absolutely fantastic product that provides that necessary support needed for a pregnant mother that is out and about on a mountain or cliff side.
To clearly state what I have shared through this article, “YES, rappelling pregnant can be done with the right cautionary steps taken.” Rappelling pregnant is a great way to stay in shape, re-energize oneself and to breathe in fresh air; however, there are some potential risks involved with rappelling pregnant. But with any risk, you can decrease the likelihood of an incident happening by properly preparing beforehand. Here are some wrap up tips to help you as you assess your own ability to rappel:
- Be aware of your limits and your health
- Be aware of the needs to safeguard your unborn child
- Listen to the medical advice provided by your doctor
- Take the right equipment for the rappel based off the stage of your pregnancy
- And make the decision that is best for your overall safety and wellbeing
As long as you follow these points and make sound judgment based off the needs of yourself and your child you should be able to enjoy a healthy, safe and secure rappel throughout your pregnancy with the ‘The Mountain Mama’ by Mad Rock (View on Amazon).