Anonymous Mom: I Was A Pregnant Rock Climber

pregnant full body harnessAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

When I first found out I was pregnant, my husband and I had just gotten home from an eight day rock climbing trip in Utah. A couple days during the trip I had felt sick and not like myself. I assumed it was heat stroke. We had actually been trying to get pregnant for almost a year but, for some reason, I didn’t connect the dots. We were both thrilled that we were going to have a baby.

Rock climbing has been a huge part my life, as well as my husband’s life, for the past four to five years. When we met, he had been rock climbing for a while but nothing too serious since he didn’t have a steady climbing partner. The first time he asked me to go I was absolutely terrified, but wanting to be the spontaneous girlfriend, I said yes. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. Climbing made me feel strong and capable. I loved the feeling of using my muscles and mind on a tall cliff. I loved going higher and challenging myself. I loved the exhaustion at the end of a long climbing day.

The summer before I got pregnant, most of our weekends were filled with hiking and climbing. We both grew as climbers and were leading harder routes. I was in the best shape of my life when I found out I was expecting. I figured I would just keep climbing throughout my pregnancy.

My first trimester, it was easy to keep going. I was tired and a little nauseous, but getting outside really helped. I didn’t have a belly to contend with yet and, for the most part, I felt really great. At this point, it was autumn and we continued climbing pretty heavily until winter. Unfortunately, winter here really puts a damper on the majority of outdoor climbing. We still had a couple spots where we would go and a climbing gym a few hours away that we could go to when the weather was really bad. Luckily winter is ski season so we did have something to keep us in shape and get us out of the house.

By this time we had started telling family and friends about the pregnancy. I was surprised by the amount of people that said something along the lines of ”oh good, now you can quit that crazy climbing thing.” I knew climbing, when done correctly, is safe and I felt safe doing it. I didn’t think about how many people didn’t feel the same way. They thought I was putting myself and my baby at unnecessary risk by continuing to climb. Most of the people who said this had never been climbing and didn’t know the safety precautions that we take before we even start. A lot of people assumed I was hanging by an unsecured flimsy rope 60 feet in the air. Of course, this wasn’t true.


My husband and I, along with all of our climbing friends, are extremely safe. Rock climbing is definitely a risky sport, but the risks we take are our own and can be minimized. Sadly, a lot of people assume pregnant women have to be in a bubble until they give birth. Pregnant women are some of the strongest people I know.

The second trimester was amazing. I felt great and I was remaining active. Around my sixth month I had to switch to a full-body harness since my belly was getting too big for a standard one. I loved the full-body harness. It made me feel secure, even if it wasn’t the most flattering thing in the world! It left room for my growing belly too.

We continued to climb outdoors and at the gym. Now that I was obviously pregnant, the reactions were funny to watch. A lot of the people we met were climbers and thought it was great that I was still climbing while pregnant. Some women asked where they could get a full-body harness so they could continue to climb when they were pregnant too. Some people though, weren’t as nice.

I got a lot of dirty looks and whispers from people who thought I was being too risky. I remember going to a friend’s baby shower during this time and she introduced me as her ”extreme pregnant friend.” Well, I’ll take that as a compliment I guess?


The third trimester was definitely tougher. I still felt great but my stomach was big enough to start ”getting in the way” when I climbed. We continued to climb as much as we could. When I didn’t feel up to climbing, I would just hike in with everyone and sit around and eat. That was glorious. Just being outside would lift my mood if I was feeling down that day.

Friends and family were surprised that I was still climbing. When my mom asked what we were up to on the weekend I could almost hear her silent judgment when I replied ”climbing.” She, and a few others, had asked me if I was afraid of slamming my belly against the wall. The way that I was climbing made that possibility almost impossible. I exclusively top rope climbed during my pregnancy.

Top roping is when the rope is connected to the climber, goes through a device at the top of the climb and down to the belayer at the bottom. If the climber does fall, the fall is only as far as the stretch of the rope, which is extremely minimal. I could hit my stomach if I fell and swung, but I was careful to never do a climb where I would swing.

I have always liked the saying ”ignorance breeds fear.” I’ve found this adage to be very true when it comes to rock climbing or any sport viewed as extreme. The people who don’t know anything about it are the most judgmental. I did the same with climbing at first. I viewed it as a bunch of crazy people who had a death wish by going up these walls. What were they thinking? Weren’t they scared? Climbing is a lot less dramatic than most people think.

The last time I climbed, I was 37 weeks pregnant. It was actually my husband who suggested I throw in the towel. I agreed with him. I felt my stomach was so big now that it was hindering my technique and I could easily pull a muscle or hurt my back by climbing incorrectly. I also had an extra 40 pounds to climb with and, honestly, it was extremely tiring. I was sad to be done, but I knew I had to stop.

I gave birth to a little girl about three weeks ago. I waited until after I had her to write this because some people thought that my ”extreme” lifestyle would result in an unhealthy baby. Fortunately, that wasn’t true at all. She was over eight pounds at birth and is healthy, happy and loves to eat (just like her mom). I have to heal awhile before I can climb again because the delivery was a little difficult but I can’t wait to get back into it.

People have joked that our baby will be climbing before she walks. The one thing I do know is that I cannot wait to introduce her to something that both my husband and I love so much and are so passionate about. Plus I can show her photos of her climbing before she was even born!

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