On Skiing While Pregnant

Winter came and I couldn’t take it – I had to ski. We’ve been out twice now and I have some thoughts/observations to share.

You may remember that I was having trouble deciding if skiing (the cross-country variety) was a risk I was willing to take during this pregnancy. Most of my hesitation came from two places: 1) last year was really a non-season, so it felt like I hadn’t skied in 2 years, and 2) hiking the trails here, I worried that my skills might not be up to par.

We’ve talked to a number of people who do know the area well who thought there were easy enough trails out there for me to be safe. Adventure Guy gathered trail reports from all sorts of people, and decided on a good trail system for us to try on New Year’s Day.  Up until then, it had been all snowshoeing, all the time. That day we threw our snowshoes in the car just in case (but forgot boots – ha) and headed out to ski these reportedly easy trails.

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As it turns out, they were pretty easy! I’d say that for the most part, they were easier than most of the trails we skied in Michigan – the only thing I can think of that might have been easier there was a golf course. These trails were relatively flat without any steep climbs (though some did go on gradually forever) or steep descents, and no tricky turns at the bottom of hills. Most of the time the trails were even reasonably sheltered from the wind, for which we were thankful because although it was beautifully sunny, the temperature was in the low single digits and the windchill was well below zero that day.

I was happy to find that a few of my running clothes have sufficient Lycra content to still be worn at 27 weeks pregnant. Coupled with my Mountain Mama Maternity Clouds Rest baselayer top, my pair of Eddie Bauer Powerstretch pants, and an old Asics top, my Illuminite jacket provided just enough protection against the wind. Oh! And we can’t forget the Buff around my neck and the fact that I wore two hats – a fleece Mountain Hardwear liner and a windproof softshell hat from The North Face on top. It was cold with the wind in my face but otherwise great.

And some observations: these trails weren’t signed as clearly as we had hoped. Therefore, what we had intended to be a short easy ski became a bit more than 2 hours…. At 27 weeks pregnant, this meant a very sore pubic symphysis for a good 3-4 days afterwards. It felt ok for the first hour or so but by the end every stride was excruciating. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any choice but to continue until we finally got back to the car. Secondly, everyone knows that hydration is very important during pregnancy. I carry water on every outing, usually in the water bottle pockets on a Mountainsmith lumbar pack, which is what I did that day.  I drank throughout the trip but eventually all I wanted to do was put my head down and push back to the car. When we got back to the car, I found this…

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Taken a good 10-15 minutes into the ride back home…because the bottle was frozen shut until then. Oops.

Our second outing occurred a few days later when Adventure Guy decided he’d like to celebrate his birthday at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. So we got up early on the morning of the 6th, loaded up the car, and drove down there. Once again he thought these trails – set on a golf course – would be easy enough for me to feel comfortable, but again we threw the snowshoes in the car – this time with boots! These trails were also easy and very well-groomed. Set tracks are a lot easier on the pelvis than smooth rolled trails are, let me tell you.

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This time we only skied about an hour. By the end of that time my pelvis was really hurting again, though not as bad as it had the previous outing. We walked around Steamboat for a while after we skied and I think that movement helped reduce the soreness I felt in the coming days.

Getting out on skis – especially that first day – made me feel like myself again. I have to admit it was fairly short-lived since it faded once the pelvic pain really kicked in, but it was great to feel that way even for a little while. I do wonder, though, how long I’ll really be able to do this with my pelvis feeling the way it did. I suspect not much longer. Snowshoeing is probably going to be out soon, too, as the wider stance seems to aggravate my loose SI joints. At this point, the only thing I seem to be able to do without any discomfort at all is the elliptical trainer. I haven’t tried swimming (and don’t really want to, as cold as this weather is!) but may have to break down and brave the pool sometime soon.

Another thing I really struggled with was finding the kick zone on my skis. This was worse during the second outing than it was during the first, but I struggled both times. My analytical mind had to come up with a reason, and I guess I’ve settled on blaming this new body weight distribution and a shifted center of gravity. According to my theory, my belly has shifted my center of mass forward and it’s no longer over my feet – which explains why I have no grip at all in a normal posture and feel like I have to sit back on my heels in order to have any traction climbing hills. Unfortunately, sitting back like that is not really conducive to climbing…Each of those outings were on my waxless skis – Adventure Guy is talking about waxing my waxable skis to see if maybe fine-tuning the kick zone helps. We also discovered that those skis are softer (even though they are the same model and same size), so that may help me have more traction than I had on the waxless pair. Otherwise, I have a pair of very soft Peltonen waxless skis that Adventure Guy picked up at Goodwill a couple years ago for $5 – they’re a little wider, too, and that may help as well.

So, that’s that. We finally got out there and I’m glad we did, even though I don’t know how long it will continue. It was nice to have the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite things about winter.

Happy skiing.

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