Baby on Board: Climbing Harness made for Pregnant Women

Maternity clothing maker Mountain Mama Inc. has introduced a rock-climbing harness. The full-body harness, developed in collaboration with Mad Rock Climbing, provides an open belly area for the “big with child” region and loops at the sternum for tying in with a rope.

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Climbing harness for pregnant women

Ostensibly made for top-roping, not lead climbing, the Mountain Mama harness has an X-strap design on back as seen on harnesses made for kids. (My children, ages 5 and 7, have used similar harness designs while at the crag.)

The company cites the harness as “supporting and cradling the torso” in the event of a fall. It uses a wide webbing and has the requisite buckles and adjustments for a range of fit throughout a pregnancy.

This “world’s first harness for pregnant climbers,” as the company puts it, debuted last month at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show. It was “designed by women, for women,” the company notes. (We’d hope so!)

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Wide straps and a design to accommodate in utero climbing partner

Cites the brand: “The open design through the midsection accommodates a growing belly without bunching or squeezing.”

The harness — official name: Mountain Mama by Mad Rock harness — got substantial buzz in the climbing world and at the trade show, including positive and negative reaction from climbers, pregnant and not. (See one spicy thread on the SuperTopo forum here.)

It will be available in early 2013 for $120. Readers, what do you think? Women can obviously be active while pregnant. But is getting vertical with a big belly and a “baby on board” a good idea or not?

—Stephen Regenold is the founder of GearJunkie.

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Mountain Mama founder Teresa Delfin on a climbing route

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Posted by Mo - 09/06/2012 02:59 PM

I think this is great! I recently read an article stating it is safe to climb while pregnant as long as you utilize a harness like this. This harness is for toproping, so a big impact fall is unlikely. The article I read also states to start climbing below your “non-pregnancy” level to avoid falling, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. I can’t imagine having to hang up my harness and shoes for 9 months, so I will be getting one of these once that time comes!

Posted by Erica Lineberry (http://cragmama.com) - 09/07/2012 05:56 AM

I climbed through my whole pregnancy – last climbing session was 48 hours before my son was born! Climbing made me feel good about myself and kept me centered. I think it’s awesome that Mountain Mama came out with a harness – it looks a lot more comfortable than the one I used!

Posted by Heather kern - 09/15/2012 12:51 PM

I wish this existed before! I too climbed through my entire pregnancy. I had plans to go in Week 38 but baby came a couple days before my outing. I used a harness of similar design but it was not too comfy. This one looks to have nice padding plus the adjustability looks better. You can climb safely during pregnancy for sure. You pick your routes carefully and keep the top rope tight. I found it to be fun and challenging to think my way through moves that were easy without a protruding belly.

Posted by mommyfish - 01/11/2013 07:17 PM

i am excited as i couldn’t wait until january for this to come out. i bought the petzl full body harness and found it to be a poor fit for my petite body. i am currently planning a climbing trip for my seventh month and will be getting this harness asap. of course, i only toprope and do easy climbs.

Posted by Rebecca L - 02/16/2013 05:29 PM

I consider myself a serious climber and did my best to keep climbing while pregnant. I wish I could say I was successful. At about 22 weeks (5 months), I seriously injured my sacroiliac (SI) joint – the joint in the low back between the pelvis and the sacrum. Because you eventually have to let the baby out, the SI joint is more pliable during pregnancy. This is one of the main reasons yoga teachers will discourage you from twisting. Climbing involves a significant amount of twisting as well (particularly on overhangs), so climbing can lead to SI joint dysfunction (which is not fun!), as it did for me. I read a lot about climbing while pregnant, and I didn’t see any websites that warn of this (though in retrospect it should be obvious). I like to think that I would have heeded a warning (though, I’m a climber, and, like most climbers, apt to ignore all advice against climbing). So, I’m doing my best to get the word out that if you have any signs of pelvic instability (loose joints in general, pain while twisting, recent injury to the hip area, or anything else that might give you pause), it it worth questioning whether you should climb. With this recent injury, my goals have changed from staying fit while pregnant and climbing throughout pregnancy to the much more humble goal of keeping my musculoscelatal system intact, so I have some hope of resuming my former strength and fitness after I give birth… Maybe others can make more informed decisions than I did…

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