Written by Shelby of Farminence
Gardening is a wonderful way to get outdoors for some sunshine and a little bit of exercise. Both of these are beneficial if you're pregnant, making gardening a perfect activity for pregnant women.
But, pregnancy itself can come with some limitations that can affect how enjoyable gardening is. If you’re feeling nauseous in the mornings (thanks crazy hormones), then the last thing you may want to do is go outside into the heat and check on your plants.
As pregnancy advances, it becomes harder to bend over, making seed sowing, planting and harvesting seem nearly impossible. Luckily, I’ve got some tips and tricks for you. Learn what you can do to make gardening while pregnant both manageable and enjoyable!
Tools are Your Best Friend
I’ve always been a fan of gardening tools that can make your gardening tasks easier, but gardening during pregnancy makes good tools a must have. I can’t imagine gardening without the help of my tiller or my newly discovered favorite tool, the seed sower. If you’ve ever been looking for an excuse to splurge on an expensive tool that will cut your gardening work load, then pregnancy is the perfect excuse.
During my first pregnancy, I had a small rototiller that I used to break up the soil in my garden. I was about 4 months pregnant at the time. We had a large garden to plant (about ¼ acre) and I had a tiny rototiller to help me. It felt like it took me about six years to till that garden up! Not only did that tiny tiller try to vibrate my arms off, but I was exhausted by the time it was tilled up. That was the same year that we invested in a large tiller that doesn’t vibrate nearly as much and is self-propelled. Since then, tilling up the garden has been a breeze, whether I’m pregnant or not.
I’ve always been a huge fan of planting seeds. It’s cheaper and you’re less limited in your selection. Maybe I’m just frugal, but to me, it just makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is trying to plant seeds while you’re massively pregnant. You know, the point in your pregnancy when you’re not really sure if your feet even exist or not? Sowing seeds at this point seems not only impossible but ridiculous. Enter my new favorite gardening tool: the seed sower.
With a price tag around $100, it always seemed like a splurge. I mean, did I really need a seed sower? I put off buying one each year. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT A SEED SOWER WOULD CHANGE MY LIFE.
When we started planting our garden out this year, I told my husband and two kids that I’d be needing help to plant. I think I helped my daughter plant about 5 squash plants before I realized that my 7 months-pregnant belly was not going to let me plant, much less sow a ton of seeds. So, we buckled and got a seed sower.
First of all, let me just say that sowing seeds by hand now seems ridiculous.
The inventor of the seed sower should be entered into the gardening hall of fame. It’s just as necessary and important as the cotton gin, steel plow or tractor. No more popping knees and broken back after sowing a row of seeds. A good seed sower will literally create a row for you, insert and space out seeds and then cover them back up. It’s amazing and mind-blowing that I never had one until this year.
Before the seed sower, it took me hours to sow seeds in our garden. With the seed sower, it literally took less than 30 minutes. Saying a seed sower is necessary during pregnancy is an understatement.
You likely didn’t’ get pregnant on your own, so why should you have to tackle getting your garden in the ground on your own? Gardening while you’re pregnant can be a difficult task, especially when you’re planting and trying to get your garden established.
Don’t feel bad asking family members or your spouse for help. You’re working hard to tote around a new human, so it’s only fair for your spouse or children to help out. You’ll probably be surprised at how good of a job they’ll do to help out.
And if their gardening skills are subpar, don’t freak out about it. When my son was 4, I was pregnant with my daughter. I needed help planting and my husband worked a ton at the time so I knew that I would have to rely on my son for help. He helped me plant everything and get seeds in the ground. My rows weren’t straight and perfect, but that was one of the best years our garden has had.
When you’re asking for help, ask for help with the tasks that you can’t do.
Getting plants in the ground is one of the most difficult tasks to manage when you’re pregnant since bending over isn’t always an option. If you have kids already, they will probably really enjoy helping with planting and getting their hands dirty.
Also, don’t feel ashamed if you need to bring a chair out to the side of the garden and park it under a nearby shade tree to supervise. Make sure that plants are getting into the ground, but don’t be overbearing when giving advice to your help. This may just be the best year your garden has.
Think About Your Seed and Plant Selection
This may sound like common sense, but if you’ve been gardening for a while, you probably have some favorite plants that are your go-tos each year.
Gardening during pregnancy can be so much easier if you plant crops that are easier for you to manage. Try to avoid low-lying plants if you are growing in the soil. Carrots, radishes, onions and bush beans or bush peas are harder to reach if you can’t bend over.
Opt for a climbing variety of beans or peas and run them up a trellis. They will be much easier for you to reach to harvest and care for. For small or low-lying plants, consider planting in containers or raised beds. This will get them up off the ground and make them easier for you to reach.
Gardening Safety During Pregnancy
It’s important to stay safe while you’re gardening at any time, but it’s especially true to practice safe gardening during pregnancy.
Gardening seems like a totally safe task to take on during pregnancy, but there are a couple of things that you need to consider.
Make sure that cats aren’t using your garden as an outdoor litter box. For some reason, garden soil seems really appealing to cats. Unfortunately, cat feces can carry a harmful bacterium that causes toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can cause fetal problems and even miscarriages or stillbirths. If cats use your garden as a litter box, make sure that you’re using gloves and washing your hands properly.
Pregnancy is the perfect time to experiment with integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a method of controlling pests without harmful pesticides. Not only is IPM more environmentally friendly, but it’s safer during pregnancy. Use pesticides and chemicals as a last resort. If you have help, have them apply any chemicals to the garden. If you’re the one managing the garden, wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves to apply chemicals. Don’t apply them if it’s windy to help reduce the likelihood that you’ll inhale any chemicals.
Gardening during pregnancy is manageable with a little planning ahead. Be sure that you’re always being safe and if something is uncomfortable, take a break! Stay hydrated and keep a chair close by in case you need to sit down for a minute. And don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. Here’s to a healthy garden and pregnancy!