I knelt in the thick swamp muck that comes with the first few warm days of spring, the high-pitched sound of mosquitoes buzzing around my head and the breeze wafting the smell of coffee spilled from my travel mug. A thunderous gobble broke the morning stillness and echoed through the open timber. In response, I felt a flutter in my belly as my daughter kicked against the jacket that was growing ever snug on my expanding body. Never mind barefoot and pregnant, I was camo clad and pregnant.
For many years, the subject of hunting while pregnant has been somewhat of a taboo subject. However, as the number of female hunters grows, we are becoming more vocal about the subject. Pregnancy, after all, isn't a sickness or a disability as many would treat it. And it's time it was talked about as a matter of fact.
I hunted, bowfished and trapped my way through my whole pregnancy with my (now three-year-old) daughter, and like to think my daughter's love of the outdoors stems from all the things I accomplished outdoors while she was still in the womb. Wading the creeks with my bowfishing bow and being able to feel her kick in my belly; making my way through the sticky mud to check my coon traps and knowing my daughter was along with me...it was an amazing experience.
If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant in the future, I'm going to share some commonsense guidelines for getting outdoors and shooting while also growing a tiny human.
Whether you are high risk or not, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before resuming any outdoor activities that cause you to exert yourself. In most circumstances, your doctor will give you the okay to resume normal activity within reason. As a reminder, please use this article as a general guideline and not medical advice.
I shoot my bow often, and I was shocked by how different it felt when I was pregnant. It was as if all the strength had been sucked out of me, leaving me weak and shaky. This is normal, especially in the first trimester, and can continue throughout your pregnancy. If you shoot a compound bow, there is no shame in lowering your draw weight to accommodate what feels good for you. However, as long as you can comfortably draw your bow, there is no reason not to practice and hunt as usual.
Change How You Hunt
If you hunt primarily from a tree stand, you may want to consider sitting in a ground blind, especially if you’re further along in your pregnancy. Not only will your safety harness not fit properly and potentially cut across your stomach if you fell, but climbing into the stand itself could be dangerous. Use your best judgement and exercise caution. There is nothing wrong with altering how you hunt to keep yourself and your baby safe.
Staying healthy and hydrated is extra important when growing a human. My pack was a little heavier than usual when I was pregnant, because I carried extra water, snacks, and even extra clothing and a cushion to sit on while turkey hunting.
Listen to Your Body
This one may seem like common sense, but especially if you are close to getting the buck of your dreams or something of the sort, it’s easy to push yourself. If you feel tired, rest. Take as many breaks as needed. Going into preterm or early labor in the middle of the woods or on the side of the mountain isn’t exactly an ideal situation and one I tried to avoid at all costs.
A Story To Tell
My plan was always to become pregnant at a time that didn’t coincide with hunting season. However, that’s not always how life works. Babies tend to happen on their own time, not ours as I soon discovered. Despite the initial nervousness that quickly wore off, my hunting seasons stayed relatively the same. And after a successful spring turkey in Ohio, I ended up with some amazing stories to pass on to my daughter.