As female hunters, there are a few extra struggles that we deal with than our male counterparts. One of those is hunting while pregnant.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting there to be too many changes except for maybe being a little bulkier and heavier. Wow, was I wrong!
Hunting while pregnant is a whole different ball game; you tire more easily, you’re front heavy, out of breath, always hungry and there’s not exactly an endless supply of maternity camo! In fact, chances are, you’re going to be borrowing your significant other’s hunting clothes for the next few months, or buying loose fitting, elastic waisted pants that are a couple of sizes too big. You may even need some help getting your hunting boots tied up.
But let’s not look at all the negatives. Here are some tips to help you have a fun (and safe) hunting season, despite all the extra challenges.
1. Remember you aren’t in this alone
Female hunters are one of the fastest growing demographics in the industry. You won’t be the first to face these challenges and you won’t be the last.
The industry is filled with women getting out there and getting it done – baby bellies and all. Just look at Eva Shockey (@evashockey) or Sam Owens (@mrs_backcountry) who don’t let pregnancy hold them back!
2. Ignore the naysayers
With hunting comes a whole heap of controversy. With pregnancy comes a whole heap of unwanted advice. Now add those two together and people will be telling you what’s best for you and your baby and how hunting definitely isn’t best.
You don’t need to listen or be swayed by their negativity. I’m not saying don’t take into account their concerns BUT only you really know what you’re capable of. The only person you really need to consult is your doctor. If they give you the all clear then do whatever you think is best for you and your baby.
I mean this comes without saying really… snacks should be taken on every hunting trip regardless of whether you are with-child or not. But you will have a whole new appreciation for that Snickers bar when your body all of a sudden decides it wants food now! Make sure you take enough rations to last the trip and maintain your blood sugar levels. Take an extra Snickers or two – you’ll thank me later!
4. Give the tree stand a miss
While you may love hunting from a tree stand under normal circumstances, suspending yourself 10 metres up in the air may not be the safest place for your unborn child. Consider switching to a ground blind or some light spot and stalk hunting. Just remember to take it easy!
5. Only shoot your gun when you need to
The jury is still out on whether or not the noise pollution from a gun can harm your little one’s hearing while they are still in the tummy but this isn’t the only reason to keep your shooting to a minimum. Lead poisoning is very dangerous and something you don’t want to risk – you may want to consider having someone else sight in your rifle for you. Of course, you won’t put your baby at much risk from a shot or two while hunting but it’s best to shoot less at this stage or get lead-free ammunition.
6. Shoot your bow instead
If you are worried about shooting a firearm too much, you might consider getting out with the bow. No chance of lead poisoning or hurting your baby’s ears. Just make sure that your draw is smooth and easy, if your draw is a little tougher than usual, try lowering your draw weight if you can.
7. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is really important while hunting in general but, in pregnancy, it becomes even more vital. It helps keep you from overheating and can also help prevent swelling and nausea. Who knew you could stave off three very annoying side effects of pregnancy with a little water!
8. Skip the carryout
You’ve done the hard work tracking the animal, and have now taken the shot. The next logical step is the carry out, right? While we would normally encourage female hunters to do their part in carrying out their harvest, it’s probably best to skip this part during pregnancy – for starters, the added weight can put a heap of extra strain on your body. Being a little on the front-heavy side, you also have a much higher chance of slipping or falling – and no hunt is worth risking you or your baby’s health. So while it may hurt your pride to ask for a little help, it’s better to injure your pride than your pride and joy (ie – your precious little baby).
Secondly, we are dealing with wild animals here. Game not only carry diseases, they can also be covered in ticks, fleas and leeches, which can also carry diseases. Don’t expose you or your baby to unnecessary risks, particularly as your immune system is already compromised during pregnancy.
9. Listen to your body
As much as I love hunting, I’ve had to lower my expectations and pass on two of our normal trips this year. The first pass was hunting in South Africa, as the flight was just too long. Nor did I want to run the risk of a premature birth in another country. The second pass was New Zealand. As much as I love hunting those wild hills and valleys for red deer and fallow, I just don’t think my body could cope with climbing those big old mountains like it did last year. But that doesn’t mean hunting is out for me completely. I just need to lower my expectations and be satisfied with the gentler hills of Tasmania. It’s important to know your body and listen to it!
Once your baby starts getting bigger and the breathlessness begins its not as easy to push your self as hard as you once did nor is it recommended. Remember, the delivery suite isn’t usually so easily accessible when you’re in the bush so don’t be silly trying to be tough.
Most of all, remember to enjoy hunting and take care of yourself and your new little miracle. Hunting will still be there after the bub and you’ll have all new adventures teaching them all the great things about hunting!
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