Living in NYC where nature sometimes feels limited to the occasional sidewalk flower bed, we know that camping is crucial to our well-being. It’s our way of unplugging and recharging. We’ve camped lots of times, and we've always prided ourselves on using just our little lightweight backpacking tent.
When I told people we were going camping this summer when I was 6 months pregnant, many people thought I was crazy. While it was definitely in some ways a learning experience, let me be clear: camping was STILL beautiful and amazing and I would certainly recommend it to all, pregnant or otherwise.
There were a few essential items I was glad I remembered to add to my pregnant camping packing list, like throwaway heating pads and an air mattress, which my lower back and sanity thanked me for. And of course there were a few things I thought of *after* we'd arrived that I would definitely recommend to all camping mamas-to-be.
We ventured out to Acadia, one of our favorite places in the world and a place we've camped at for a few years in a row now. If you haven't been, Acadia is magical, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather and camping conditions. (We also splurged for a real nice waterfront site and upgraded to a tent we could stand in... Seemed like the right move for 6 months pregnant.)
After unloading the car and setting up our campsite my feet were feeling the effects of walking for two. Which brings me to my first essential item for camping while pregnant:
1. Chair with Footrest!
This is key. We brought folding chairs and I planned on using the cooler as a footrest, which turned out to be both ineffective and annoying whenever we wanted something out of the cooler. Also, a cooler is heavy to lug into place. Just get one of those camping chairs with a footrest attached, like this one ….magic.
2. Yoga Mats and/or Sleeping Pads
Hard surfaces, especially uneven ones outdoors, can be tough on the toesies. Pack a couple yoga mats or sleeping pads to make the floor of your tent easier to walk and crawl around on.
3. Shelves and/or Folding Table (Because bending over pregnant is thing!)
Ohhh that moment when you’re 6/7/8/9 months pregnant and you drop something. Knowing the production that is about to ensue - not to mention the risk of injury/general misery for the back - dropping something while pregnant is tragically difficult. Instead of crawling around your tent to rummage through clothes and cooking gear, pack these lightweight, hanging shelving units to make your pregnant life SO much easier.
4. Toilet (Because peeing while pregnant is a thing!)
If you’re camping at a campground with bathrooms (look at you all fancy!) then try to get a site close to the facilities. You will have to pee all the time (fo' reals), and walking a long distance in the dark with a full bladder and only the glow of your headlamp is no fun at all.
Another option is to go all in and get one of these bad boys which you can set up right near your tent (I mean, maybe not *right* near). This will turn any camping experience into glamping. Peeing in peace is invaluable after all, and worth even more when pregnant.
5. Double Tier Air Mattress …
… with a battery operated pump! Like padding the floor of your tent, extra cushioning is a must while pregnant. I find the double tier air mattress makes a world of difference (as in, you don’t wake up in a weird deflated hammock with your butt hitting the cold hard ground). It might feel a little silly to blow up in a tent (that high-pitched distinct noise of the pump seems to yell "I'm kind of a wuss and can't sleep on the ground!" but guess what? You're growing a human, so you get to be as comfy as you darn want to be.) Going for the higher air mattress will be so worth it when you don't have to lift your pregnant self off the ground in the morning to get out of bed.
6. Carabiners and S hooks
In line with the whole not-bending-over-thing, bring TONS of these! You can hang them from tent loops, tree branches, bungee cords tied between trees, the handle of your partner's backpack, wherever.
8. Sturdy Slip-on Shoes!
Specifically sturdy shoes that are easy to slip on in the middle of the night in the dark! And cover your toes! Because tripping over tree roots isn’t a good look, pregnant or not. My go-to camping shoes are closed-toe crocs like these because they can get wet/dirty, slip on easily, and big and comfy for walking around a campsite.
Despite the slightly longer packing list, camping while pregnant was just as rejuvenating as always. Spending time together in nature with fresh air and vistas instead of technology and distractions was well worth the extra planning. We already can’t wait to go back next year with bambino in tow! Stay tuned for another list … “Essential Items for Camping with Baby” ;)