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Teal Dreher - Climbing and Pregnancy

 Teal Dreher bouldering

La Sportiva athlete Teal Dreher shares her experience of climbing while pregnant...

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When I was in my late twenties, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to get pregnant. I had begun to think of myself as an athlete and I had so many climbing goals that I hadn’t yet achieved, and I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to subject my body to those changes and there was so much uncertainty about what climbing would look like for me after I had a baby.

I then set a goal to climb v10 before I turned 30 and I told my husband that I would be ready to have a child after I achieved that goal. I climbed my first v10 at 29 years old, and shortly after that something in my head just switched. I was ready to have a baby and I knew that climbing would still be in my life afterward, even if that meant I wouldn’t always be climbing at the same level. I was ok with this and had made my peace to accept whatever changes were going to occur with respect to my body, my time, and my climbing ability.

Teal Dreher bouldering

It ended up taking us more time to conceive than we had anticipated, so in the meantime, I tried to do as much research as possible to find out what it would be like to climb/train while pregnant and postpartum, but there really wasn’t much information out there.

Beth Rodden wrote some articles about her experience climbing while pregnant, which was great info but also it sounded like she had a particularly hard time of it. I had seen a few posts by Molly Rennie about training while pregnant with Power Company Climbing, which was also helpful to see, but overall I didn’t really have any idea what it would be like and what I would be able to do (and for how long into my pregnancy).

Teal Dreher bouldering

I made a decision to just keep on doing what I had been doing with regards to climbing and training (I had been told that what your body is already acclimated to, you could continue to do after you got pregnant), and to just be mindful of my body and how things felt, and eliminate things as needed, and to work with my midwife throughout this journey so make sure that we are both comfortable with what I am doing.  I also made the decision to document my journey as thoroughly as possible so that other female athletes who were contemplating getting pregnant could get some insight from my experiences.

Teal Dreher bouldering

I am currently at 28 weeks pregnant (just into my third trimester!), and I have been so pleasantly surprised at what I have been able to do while pregnant! I am currently still bouldering (mostly indoors, but I have been able to get outside quite a bit over the last few months). I have definitely become more cautious about taking falls up high, so I either choose boulders with cruxes lower down or that are just not that tall (the moonboard has been my best friend). I have also been very consistent with hangboarding throughout my pregnancy and I have actually made finger strength gains (amount of weight I can add to my 10-second max hangs) without even taking into account the weight that I have gained from pregnancy (23 pounds so far).

At about 9 weeks pregnant I first tested my finger strength (and started training with Power Company Climbing) and was able to hang 65 pounds on a 20 mm edge for 10 seconds. This week, at 28 weeks pregnant, I was able to hang 70 pounds on the same edge for the same duration, so really it equates to about a 25-pound increase in strength!

My biggest concern coming into pregnancy was my joints. As your body releases the hormone Relaxin to prepare your hips for childbirth, often a woman’s other joints become loose and more prone to injury. Thus far though, I have noticed no change to the joint stability in any of my joints. I’m not sure if this is mostly luck or the fact that I have continued to strength train my joints to maintain stability… or maybe a little of both?

Teal Dreher bouldering

I am not writing this to give advice to other women who may become pregnant, because as I have talked to other mothers I truly believe that every experience is different, but I wanted to share a glimpse into my experience so it could be used as one data point when looking at what it could potentially be like to climb through pregnancy and into motherhood.

I am so thankful that I have been able to maintain so much fitness so far into my pregnancy, but my main goal is to have a healthy baby, and I truly believe that these two things have worked hand in hand. I am excited to see what my body will be able to do postpartum and have some big goals for the fall of 2020!


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Photos by Greg Orlov© and Kim McGrenere© 

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Teal Dreher is a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team. 

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11/21/2019 2:21 PM


Posted in Climbing By Cristina Guzman

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