Can I go to high elevation pregnant? Plus, something I NEVER thought of until giving birth

Can I go to high elevation pregnant? Plus, something I NEVER thought of until giving birth

As a pregnant expecting mom, I was VERY concerned with going to Tahoe - Elevation 6,225'. Before pregnancy - No problem! Let's go! But after a trip to Vail the year before and passing out at 3am in the hotel bathroom - And, by a MIRACLE from God, literally, I landed on a pile of old towels from the shower that evening... So my head didn't shatter on the toilet or bathtub... I was thinking twice now that I was pregnant..

I thought I was the strongest woman when it came to elevation prior to that. So, of course I googled everything and then asked a mom group.

Did I go to Tahoe (evelation 6,000) and do ok??

The results were great - 54+ Californian moms replied, most of them saying it was fine and they did a-okay. A few did say that their "friends" passed out / had issues and early labor. But overall sounded totally fine...

One thing that DIDN'T think about was "Are there hosptials that can take care of me if I need some emergency treatment." Now, I was planning a home birth, being the granola person I am, but the I heard of 1 story where a gal was airlifted.. And thought of another who was at burning man and had a major issue. So I didn't want to take any chances...

I was peak paranoid during pregnancy about everything.. ANYHOO. 
After asking my doctor, they said "go for it!" They did caution that the medical facilities up there aren't as great as down at sea level in SF, but my midwife agreed - "Plenty of people give birth at high elevations!" "Don't tell me women in Tahoe drive to sea level to give birth." She had a point... 


So I went! AND, I'm happy to report, at week ~17 of pregnancy all was fine (except my usual nausea). In fact it was quite fun! I couldn't ski or anything wild but I did snowshoe and drive around with my winter gear while my husband skied (I walked like .5 miles before wanting snacks & needing to pee HA- And I used to be a nutcase active person). 

TLDR: Elevation was fine for me. It was the constant needing to pee / snacking that made winter activities tricky LOL But still definitely worth it because now I'm about to feed the baby, it's one of the best snow seasons of Tahoe and we're sitting here with baby and not on the slopes the rest of this year. 

ANYHOO, definitely check with your doctor.. because when I hit several weeks later.. Something odd happened. I don't think it had a thing to do with the elevation but my body - I had bleeding. And that's when the doctor said "Yeahhh, I wouldn't advise you go to Tahoe in case there's an emergency. Not because of the elevation, but because the hosptial there may not have the services you'd need."

SO, from week ~30 on I stayed in the Bay Area. I ended up needing a C section (irony!! with my home birth plan and all) but I think that was due to something totally different (eg - My mom did have a history of placenta issues so it was likely that / the fact I was doing some other pretty active stuff).But yeah, I did it and survived. And the doctors confirmed the cause was likely nothing to do with anything I did or didn't do - Multiple doctors said that it was unknown and it just happens to some women. (I had a super rare placental abruption, which I'll talk about in another post some time.) 

So the moral of the story? You can do it, I'd recommend asking your doctor / medical practitioner / midwife since I'm no doctor and this is just 1 story.



- Drink A LOT of water - A lot. + eat snacks. 
- Ideally you can gradually increase the elevation by staying somewhere for a day that's half way 
- Just walk / do very little day 1 -- All moms said this was a best practice - to acclimatize. 
- if you get dizzy / feel weird - STOP, sit down, relax. Don't push yourself! I know, you may be like me, crazy about wanting to do SOMETHING. But alas, better to not pass out. 

Other things to know!

--> This blog wouldn't be complete without some additional notes about elevation, research, etc..

It's important to understand how high elevation can affect your body. When you travel to high elevations, the air pressure and oxygen levels are lower than they are at sea level. This can cause some people to experience altitude sickness, which can be characterized by symptoms such as headache, nausea, and fatigue.

The good news is that most pregnant women can safely travel to elevations of up to 8,000 feet without experiencing any problems. However, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or a history of complications, you should talk to your doctor before traveling to high elevations. Additionally, if you experience any symptoms of altitude sickness, such as shortness of breath or dizziness, you should seek medical attention immediately.

If you do decide to travel to high elevations during your pregnancy, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of altitude sickness. First, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Additionally, take it easy and allow yourself plenty of time to acclimate to the altitude. If you're planning to hike or engage in other strenuous activities, take frequent breaks and listen to your body.

In conclusion, visiting high elevations during pregnancy is generally safe for most women. However, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or a history of complications, you should talk to your doctor before you go. Additionally, if you experience any symptoms of altitude sickness, seek medical attention right away. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can enjoy a safe and healthy trip to high elevation during your pregnancy.

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