I remember when I first got pregnant how many people remarked on how much our lives would change. I’m not denying that they will but there is this common belief among many that when you have a baby, adventure has to go out of the window. I really don’t want that to be the case but I’m equally realistic about the changes it will bring, such as less spontaneity, less extremism and having to prioritise someone else’s needs other than our own. I have decided to see the whole experience as a new type of adventure; one that will bring many highs and many lows, lots of hard work and planning whilst still reminding us of our place in nature and how we are not in control. It will potentially allow us even deeper enjoyment as a family as we share with, teach and learn from our new addition. But we have an open mind, who knows what will happen once the little one gets here, so we had to make the most of while I was pregnant! Having had a healthy pregnancy in both my 1st and 2nd trimester, I didn’t see any reason as to why I couldn’t plan for a few, slightly less adventurous than normal escapades for the 3rd trimester.
Whilst living in a tropical paradise for most of my pregnancy was a dream, it did have its downsides: eating hotel food and air conditioning being the main ones. I was craving fresh air and food. So, knowing we didn’t have long before I couldn’t fly after returning to the UK, we decided on a trip to Croatia to refuel the body with Southern European goodness. Having fallen in love with the Island of Cres two years earlier, we decided to head back there and to the campsite we had spent a couple of nights at before. I have to say that Andy did say that camping at 32 weeks pregnant may not be a wise choice but I was adamant. If I was that uncomfortable in a bed then a Thermarest shouldn’t make much of a difference. Also, there are many people out there that don’t have the luxury of a bed every night when they are pregnant: if they could cope then I was pretty sure that I could manage it for a week or so. My motives weren’t just stubbornness, however, I really LOVE camping. It is literally my favourite way to sleep. I love being outside, I love hearing the birds in the morning, I love how you wake with the sun and retire not long after it too, I love the air; the non-humid, pine-scented, sea air. Nothing was going to stop me.
I’m not going to pretend that I had the best nights’ sleep of my life. Instead of a million pillows to bolster myself I merely had one of those tiny ones that I stole from the plane and some clothing which I stuck under various parts of my body. The main problem though was going to the toilet. Averaging around 2-4 pees a night, I would unzip the tent, commando roll off the mat and out of the tent, brush off accumulated pines stuck to my sweaty body from said rolling, hoist myself up against a camping chair (not really heavy enough to handle a cumbersome pregnant woman doing so) and waddle down to the beach where I would hopefully not disturb some romantic nighttime smoochers and empty my bladder into the sea or by a bush. Obviously these escapades made a ridiculous amount of noise and lasted ages, why is it always when you are trying to have a quick and quiet wee that you end up sounding like an elephant that hasn’t emptied its bladder for a week? You may wonder why I didn’t head to the toilets, the one luxury of a campsite…well they were a good walk up a hill away and climbing that hill was no easy task in daylight – there was no way I was doing it half asleep with a busting bladder!
Many people complimented me on how hardy I was camping when so heavily pregnant. The thought never really crossed my mind; we were in a well-equipped campsite so it wasn’t really the camping we were used to and seemed pretty luxurious really, but considering we were only traveling with backpacks and no means of transport so had limited resources and comforts, I suppose it was.
I wasn’t going to stop there though!
Moving back to Scotland meant a chance to get back into and explore the Highlands. With little opportunity to camp with the baby after it’s arrival due to the dropping temperatures, I felt we had no choice other than to squeeze a quick adventure in in August. Originally the plan had been to take 10 days to explore the Hebrides but advice from a medic friend surrounding the limited access to emergency care when camping in the wilderness of an island at 35 weeks pregnant should I go into labour early and there be any complications, made me rethink. There was no point in being silly, not that that would have been, but it was an unnecessary risk to take. Instead we settled for just shy of a week travelling up the North West Coast. There were times when we were a good few hours drive from the nearest hospital, but at least we were on the mainland.
The benefit of having the car was that we could use the bigger tent, therefore allowing us to utilise a blow up mattress – a real luxury. I have to admit I was comfier on this that on our bed at home! Having a bigger tent also meant I had a little room for maneuvering indoors, which was vital as we were rained out almost every day. The only downside to being pregnant was that much of the wild camping we had originally wanted to do wasn’t possible as I couldn’t walk long distances to get to some of the spots we had eyed up. This meant having to stay within a close proximity to the car – not so wild!
We moved around each night to a new location, mixing it up between wild camping and campsites and towards the end found a fantastic spot on the lochside. In both situations I faced the same problem with going for a wee. The toilet blocks were way too far for me or getting out of the tent was such a mission I would surely wet myself in the process. So we developed an ingenious enhancement to the ‘piss pot’ we used in Africa – an empty sparkling water bottle and a plastic jug! I would wake up, shuffle myself into a squatted position next to the bed, stuff the jug in between my legs, hope that I had it in the right place to catch the wee and then pour it into the bottle, screw up the lid and head back to the land of nod. This would be repeated another couple of times throughout the night and provided I didn’t overdo it on the water consumption, I would avoid overflow! Other than that the whole experience was perfectly doable. I was sad I couldn’t hike as much as I wanted or expected I would be able to, but the weather didn’t really lead to me feeling I was missing out too much. Driving around tiny country roads was also eventful and rather uncomfortable.
I would totally recommend camping in pregnancy, provided you have some home comforts (pillows and a comfy mattress) and some form of potty then what’s to stop you?