Skiing While Pregnant: A Q&A with Jess Horan
By popular demand, after her amazing story takeover, we have caught up with Coalition Snow Ambassador Jess Horan to create a Q&A on skiing while pregnant. Although an important conversation to have in snow sports, it’s a conversation we've never really heard much about. Continuing your active outdoor lifestyle during pregnancy is not only possible but essential for many people to maintain their normal life, health, and happiness. We are so happy to have worked with Jess to put together this invaluable resource!
Q: What soft gear is the best? Best ski pants/bibs and jacket?
~ For me, softshell pants with suspenders are working the best, this way I can wear the pants low on my hips and extend the suspenders as needed. If your bibs are comfy enough and have a good drop seat, this would be a good option as well, but keep in mind the need to pee more frequently.
~ I have been wearing my jacket but purchased the Make My Belly Fit universal jacket extender which has been amazing. Ski gear is so expensive that getting a whole new coat just is not feasible. The nice thing about this extender is it has a baby-carrying option for post-partum and can go on a lot of different coats so I can keep using it if needed.
Q: What fit issues did you notice with boots?
~ I am finding my feet swell a lot sooner, so often my ski days are limited by my feet. Compression ski socks have helped a lot, as well as starting with my boots tighter and then loosening through the day. The real trouble is if I unbuckle my boots at lunch, then re-buckling them feels pretty unbearable!
Q: How do you tackle wanting to keep up but needing to take it down a notch?
~ I have a pretty clear mindset as to why I chose to ski while pregnant, which is for the physical health benefits but also the mental health benefits I get from it. If I stay focused on that, I feel I can stay in a safe zone. I am also being more selective about who I ski with, instead of going into a big group often opt to ski in a smaller group, or just with my partner. I also have been skiing with more of my beginner skier friends because they usually take it chill and I can help them build skills and confidence!
Q: How did you approach the conversation with your doctor?
~ The conversation came up pretty naturally when talking about my primary forms of exercise. I was pretty upfront with acknowledging the risk and they were super accepting of that. I am very fortunate to have a midwife who has been very supportive of my mental health as a priority while being pregnant because I feel you often hear a lot of “fetus comes first” approaches, and that has not been my experience.
Q: What are the concerns in high altitudes?
~ They are only a concern if you don’t live at altitude already but being at a higher altitude and being pregnant have a lot of similarities. Higher resting heart rate, higher blood pressure, and difficulty staying hydrated. Add activity to this and these factors intensify. Really for your health and the load on your heart, it may be the right move to hold off on altitudes you aren’t used to, at the very least talk to your doctor about it.
Q: Are you still able to backcountry ski?
~ Yes! I have been frequenting the local mountain for afternoon resort tours as my preferred form of exercise, and have done some shorter true backcountry tours. My risk tolerance is much lower overall though so a low angle is preferred and not even considering any avalanche risk over moderate.
Q: What conditions seem the easiest?
~ Honestly, power has been the easiest! I was not expecting that because everyone says to “just stick to the groomers” and maybe it’s because I grew up on the East coast and have a high bar for how well a trail should be groomed (the PNW sucks at grooming). I find the firmer conditions to be a little more tiring. The slushy bumpy conditions from the high-pressure system we are having have been pretty good for short periods, but I definitely have to take the day off after because my pelvic floor gets pretty sore.
Q: Are you concerned about falling?
~ My only falling concern is related to getting hit by someone else, so I try to set my schedule to ski on more weekdays. Otherwise, I feel pretty confident about the terrain I have been choosing. I took some chill falls in powder at the beginning of the season, abs dialed it way back since then.
Q: What are your guidelines for when you are going to ski and how much?
~ My number one rule is that if I am thinking about calling it for the day, I just do. Just getting out a little bit for the fresh air and activity is my goal and I have a seasons pass, so luckily it’s easy to make that call. From there I just take it 1 day at a time. With the conditions this season, I have been finding 1 day of resort skiing is all I can do in a row, but if we get some snow that might change. Single backcountry laps at the local resort let me get out a few days in a row if my schedule allows.
Q: How do you keep yourself fueled while skiing?
~ I always ski with a full 2-liter camelback and then have lots of quick energy snacks in my pockets. I usually try to start my day with a Nuun for extra electrolytes and then have a small silicone bottle to fill up and have another Nuun at a break time.
~ My favorite snacks are Aussie Bites, peanuts butter pretzels, and sour watermelons.
Thank you so much Jess for the awesome insight. Check Jess out on Instagram @jess_livin3.