This month we’re shining a light on organisations who support mums and mums-to-be to get out and about for a walk, jog or run. With this in mind, we’ve invited Katy O’Neill Gutierrez, Founder, Blaze Trails CIC to be our guest ‘March on Mama’ blogger!
Going For Your First Walks
Don’t get us wrong, as new parents we love the indoors - new baby snuggles, cups of tea on the sofa (even if they do have the habit of going cold), and pottering about in our PJ’s getting to know our newest, tiniest pal. Having loos, snacks and places for impromptu naps nearby are also hard to resist.
But staying indoors all day with a baby can be hard work! We’ve all stood there, sleep-deprived, hair a bit wild, clutching our little ones in the hallway, wondering how we’ll find the energy to make it through to teatime.
In these realities of new parenthood, the outdoors is your friend. It might feel counterintuitive, but it can feel good to get outside with your baby even when you’re at your most weary. A good dose of fresh air and the sun (or rain!) on your face will refresh you, give you some headspace, reawaken those limbs, and also soothe your baby.
So let’s get you out there!
It can feel a bit daunting going for your first walks with a new baby, but at Blaze Trails we’re here to support you and make that step outside much easier. Here are our top 10 tips for getting out of the front door. Once you’re out walking, it’ll be the start of some amazing adventures for you and your little one!
Start small and take your time. A short walk round the block or in your local park is a great place to start. Be prepared to adapt your walk - you’ll probably want to stop for breaks more often than you normally would. Especially if you’re postpartum, be gentle with your body. Build up your stamina slowly and you’ll be doing longer and more adventurous walks before you know it.
Layer-up. Make sure you and your baby wear comfortable clothes. Multiple thin layers are better than fewer bulky layers so that you can add or remove clothes as you and your baby need throughout your walk. A good measure is for your baby to wear one more layer than you, and if it’s chilly make sure your baby’s extremities (head, hands, feet) are covered. If it's sunny remember to lather on the sunscreen and keep baby out of direct sunlight - shady forests are great for warm weather walks.
Wear shoes with good grip, and watch your footing for uneven ground. Especially if baby-carrying, your centre of balance may take a bit of getting used to, and you might not be able to see your feet! If you’re planning some more epic hilly hikes on rough terrain, walking poles are brilliant for balance and stability.
Choose how to bring your baby along. You’ll be surprised at what great pushchair-accessible walks you’ll have near you - ask friends, search online, or just head out and start exploring. If you’re new to baby-wearing, contact your local sling library or consultant to get help with finding the right sling or carrier option for you and your baby. Once your baby is a bit bigger you can try more structured baby hiking backpacks, and of course soon they’ll be toddling on their own two feet too!
Embrace feeding outdoors. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding outside is easy with a bit of practice, so find yourself somewhere comfortable to sit and settle in. It’ll give you a moment to stop and enjoy the view too. Just remember to keep yourself topped up with snacks and drinks too!
Lots of first-time parents are nervous about changing their baby while walking but babies often love looking up at the trees during an al-fresco nappy change. If you’re far from facilities, just take a mat to do it on the grass or forest floor. If it’s raining, it can be really helpful to have a walking buddy on hand to hold an umbrella for you, but if you’re out solo you can balance an umbrella on its side to keep your baby dry. Remember to take all waste with you.
Babies love the fresh air, so are likely to enjoy looking up at the trees, or simply snooze away. In terms of their safety, regularly monitor their temperature and position in the carrier or pram, following T.I.C.K.S. advice if relevant, and adjust their clothing layers or position as needed.
Go by yourself or with a friend - if you fancy some company, call a friend or join a local Blaze Trails group to meet other parents for free local walks. With the baby occupied, you’ll have time for a good chat!
While you’re out do make sure you capture your brilliant memories of walking with your baby - they’ll be some of your favourite photos to look back on.
Enjoy it! Allow yourself time and space just to relax and breathe. This is your time. Be mindful and present - what signs of nature can you see around you? If the baby’s asleep, find a bench and just chill out for a bit. You’re doing a great job!
The outdoors is for everyone, and it accepts us in all our tired, emotional, joyful postpartum glory - it doesn’t matter if you haven’t brushed your hair or your teeth, or if you’ve got no make-up on. So grab your changing bag, get out the front door and put one foot in front of the other. You’ll feel great - your confidence and sense of achievement will grow with each walk!
If you need encouragement or support, look no further than your local Blaze Trails group. Your community is here for you no matter what stage you’re at in your walking or parenting journey!
For more tips, check out the walking resource we wrote with Active Pregnancy Foundation on walking during pregnancy and after childbirth.