What a fantastic weekend to try out the first made-for-maternity climbing harness to come onto the market!
The Arkansas Climbing Coalition benefits from a bouldering competition at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch every year, near Ponca, Arkansas. Add a great turn-out, beautiful weather, and tasty bbq and you just can’t lose. This gave us the perfect opportunity to put the new Mountain Mama/Mad Rock preggy harness to the test as well as usher in the beginning of the third trimester (woohoo!) with a little top rope climbing.
At 28 weeks pregnant, now showing more, and knowing that a little harness adaptation would be beneficial for everyone involved, I was ready to go. When holding the webbing up by the shoulders, the shape made sense and it was easy to see how the harness is worn.
Leg, leg, arm, arm, done.
The women in our climbing entourage responded with enthusiasm: “awesome!,” “it looks like a skydiving harness/utility harness,”
“how cool that you can keep climbing…”
The men, somewhat on the other hand, were encouraging (“cool!”) but weary:
“Oh my… why not just take a few months off?”
The price point of $120 seems very reasonable considering the specialty of the design and the extra material needed to make it. The webbing is very comfortable, nice and wide, and I didn’t notice any “cutting in” tendencies anywhere. One of the biggest points I’ll make is to take plenty of time to adjust the straps for a more “comfortable” fit – it is most definitely going to feel different. Make obvious adjustments followed by plenty of fine tuning to get the harness in exactly the right place for you and your body (half an inch can make a big difference in comfort).
Expect “the girls” to lift and separate.
Hey, we try to do this with bras, so it just naturally happens here – that could take a little getting used to, too, but again – adjust and fine tune. I took time to have the harness on, be on belay, and just ease my body weight down to where I was suspended to get a good feeling for how it would be on the wall. This allowed me to make those necessary adjustments and understand that being anchored from the chest is a different sensation than being anchored from the pelvis.
As far as a chalk bag, it’s DIY – chalk bags with their own adjustable clipping belt work just fine. If you’re old school and have historically clipped onto your rear or tied on, you’ll have to get creative.
At roughly six month pregnant, I’m not very big in the belly but am big enough to feel like this was a solid choice of harness design for safety and comfort for me as well as Kiddo. The most challenging climb I ascended was a 5.8 and when coming down, there was a moment of feeling like my belly was ever so slightly pinched between the two side/waist webs – even pinched is too heavy a word for the sensation. I’m guessing with more time and those tiny adjustments for me, that could be fixed.
Everything stayed in place well, felt secure, the materials and seams are high quality and well done. After spending some time in it, I no longer thought about how different being tied in at my chest was – it just felt good to climb.
Relating to an earlier entry (“Squatter’s Rights”), it is possible to “use the bush” while wearing it if exercising care, but it’s so easy to take off and put on, there’s really no reason to.
While rappelling down, my belayer was kind enough to let me down very slowly in order to feel the difference and get my feet planted under me – again, pelvis vs. chest.
The bottom line: The Mountain Mama Maternity Harness by Mad Rock is big on adjustment capabilities, simple on features, but what more do we need right now to simply get on a wall and feel good in doing so? I’m secure, mobile, and Kiddo isn’t being smashed by a belt.
For pregnant climbers who wish to continue their chalky pursuits, I definitely recommend giving this harness a try.
Make sure to check out Mountain Mama at mountain-mama.com for active outdoor maternity clothing, gear, and resources!