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How hiking with your baby can help postpartum depression

BY Carla Khouri

16th Aug 2023 Wellbeing

How hiking with your baby can help postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can be difficult to deal with, but there are some activities that can help. Here's how hiking can help with postpartum depression
The journey of motherhood is a remarkable and transformative experience, but it can also bring about significant physical and emotional changes. One challenge that many new mothers face is postpartum depression. The healing power of nature, specifically through hiking with your baby, can play an essential role in a new mum’s experience.

The mental benefits of hiking with your baby after giving birth

Woman hiking with her toddler child
Hiking in natural surroundings can provide a respite from the demands of everyday life, fostering a sense of calm and mental clarity. For new mothers who may be grappling with hormonal changes and the challenges of caring for an infant, spending time in nature can be a natural mood enhancer.
Studies have shown that exposure to green spaces can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, including postpartum depression. Having a change of scenery from the home environment is good for both mum and baby.

The physical benefits of hiking after giving birth

Engaging in physical activity postpartum is not only beneficial for overall health but can also aid in the recovery process. Hiking, with its combination of cardiovascular exercise and muscle engagement, is a gentle yet effective way for new mothers to regain their strength and energy.
The fresh air and sunlight during a hike can also contribute to better sleep patterns, which are crucial for both the mother's well-being and her baby's development. If you choose to carry your baby in a sling, this also provides a long period of skin-to-skin contact with your baby.

Why I Loved Hiking Postpartum

Personal experiences often hold the most profound insights. It has been a long time since my kids were newborn, but I can still remember how important being in nature was for us as a family. 
"Hiking provided me with a space to bond with my baby"
The gentle rustling of leaves, the melodic songs of birds, and the panoramic views all contributed to a sense of connection to the world outside my home. Hiking provided me with a space to reflect, meditate, and bond with my baby, creating many cherished memories.
Exploring nature can be very education for your child. Credit: Paul Bradbury

Top tips for exploring nature with children

Choose baby-friendly trails when you go for walks. Try to find well-maintained, easy trails that are suitable for strollers or baby carriers.
Always pack essentials such as an adequately stocked diaper bag, snacks, water, or any other necessary baby gear.
Dress yourself and your baby comfortably. Dress your baby in layers and ensure they're well-protected from the elements.
Planning your hike can make your walk much easier. Try to plan your walk during your baby's nap time to ensure a more relaxed experience.
Stay attuned with your baby’s needs by paying attention to your baby's cues. Be prepared to cut the hike short, if your baby needs to.

The benefits of joining a hiking group

While solo hikes have their merits, joining a hiking group can provide additional advantages, especially for new mothers. These groups offer a supportive community where experiences, advice, and stories can be shared. Connecting with other mothers who are also navigating the challenges of motherhood can help combat feelings of isolation and foster a sense of belonging. Additionally, group hikes can provide a sense of security, as there's always someone around to lend a helping hand or offer encouragement. 
"Connecting with other mothers who are also navigating the challenges of motherhood can help combat feelings of isolation"
Merrell Hiking Club is a fantastic option as it provides a safe space for female hikers of all levels to connect. New mums could join the Merrell Hiking Club Facebook group to meet an inclusive community of female hikers and try some beginner hikes across the UK. To encourage women to get outside and hit a trail, even if they've never done it before, the club hosts regular hikes all over the UK led by certified hiking guides.
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