TRANSCRIPT: Climbing whilst pregnat, adventuring as a parent and Mental Health Awareness Week


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[MUSIC starts - Bassbeat by Alex Norton: "Funky and upbeat, jangling guitars, a fat bassline and a full horn section create the perfect soundtrack to a late summer block party."]

FRAN: Hello and welcome back to On the Outside, the podcast that shares diverse views on outdoors news. And today we are talking about climbing whilst pregnant, adventuring as a parent and Mental Health Awareness Week.

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FRAN: Hello and welcome to on the outside the podcast that shares diverse views on outdoors news. And today we're talking about climbing whilst pregnant, going mainstream adventuring as a parent and mental Health awareness week. Okay. Mhm. Yeah.

KERI: Mhm. Welcome

FRAN: back to the show. I am Francesca Muraskas. I am the producer of On the Outside. And once again I'm your host. And I'm joined here on the call today by two people. One person you will be familiar with. She was in the Kendall Mountain Festival episode and also talked about Afghanistan's role in the outdoors and gender disparity in mountain sports in Episode four Kirstie Palace. Hi. How are you?

KIRSTY: Hello and Yankees. Thanks. He did?

FRAN: Yeah. Not too bad at all.

KIRSTY: So I'm Kirstie. I'm a mountaineering instructor and I work part time for mountaineering Scotland as well. And also the founder of our shared outdoors. An organisation looking to change the narrative about who accesses belongs in the outdoors.

FRAN: Thank you very much. And on the court today as well is a new voice for you. She is the host of another podcast called What Next? Mum? She's a runner. Cyclist. Paddle border Wild swimmer Sophie ruffles. Hello, How are you today? We would like to introduce yourself very quickly.

SOPHIE: I think you've really done that. Yeah, I'm generally, I'd say, an outdoor enthusiast and a mom of two. And yet the host of the next month, podcast, which I started mainly because I wanted to engage with other moms who are active and encourage other women to continue being active during and after their pregnancies.

FRAN: Well, we thank you, and we are going to hear another new voice during this episode, but she's not on the cool with us today. Kerry Wallace is a fell runner, sky runner, rock climber and writer, and she is also one of the founders of Girls on Hills. And here's a quick introduction from Kerry herself.

KERI: So I run, um, an outdoor trail and mountain running company called Girls on Hills, based in Glencoe in Scotland. And I suppose I came to that from many years of climbing and fell running and just being a general sort of mountain sports enthusiast. Really?

FRAN: So, one of the reasons I've brought in some new panellists today is because the main topic of our conversation is climbing whilst pregnant, and we have a couple of months on the show today for for the first time, in fact, so having never been pregnant myself and not being much of a climber, I thought I'd bring in a little bit more expertise on all of those points. Um, and I'll be relying very heavily on the panel for this conversation. Mhm. The reason we're talking about climbing whilst pregnant today is because the British Olympic climate Shawna Cox C. Has been sharing her climbing experience through pregnancy over the last few months. And rather recently, her story has actually made the shift from the climbing world and into mainstream news. We've seen articles on BBC Sport, the Independent I T V News, I think did one The Guardian website did an interview with her. So it's gotten all over mainstream news media. Essentially, um, so I'd really like to talk about this a little bit, both as somebody that is very dense on it and also thinking about how that's made the jump into the mainstream media. Yeah, I'd like to just open this up initially to Kirsty and Sophie and just ask you when, When you first became aware of Shawna Cox as a climber and also finding out about and seeing some of her her journey as she's been talking about climbing whilst pregnant.

KIRSTY: I've probably been like following Shawna Cox C since 2014 or something years ago, before the Olympics, before Climate was even mentioned about being in the Olympics. Because she's probably she is the most successful competition climate we have in in the UK So, yeah, I've been aware of her going through like British Baldwin Championships, the World Championships, and she's had a few world champion titles in Children as well. And then obviously, the Olympics last year. So yeah, it was. After the Olympics, she announced that she was going to be retiring from competition climbing, Um, and then shortly after she and then she was pregnant. So it's been really cool seeing her, Uh, yeah, continuing to Boulder while while she's been pregnant and seeing that kind of journey through it. And I think she's been very open about it as she's gone through as well.

FRAN: Yeah, lovely. And how about you, Sophie? Because you're a bit like me. You're not so much within the climbing world. How How did you find out about this? was this something that you knew about before I asked you to come onto the show or

SOPHIE: Yes. So I mean, I followed sure on social media for a long time, definitely before the Olympics, just because I'm always interested in female athletes. My instagram is just badass women basically doing cool stuff. And I watched the Olympics, and when she announced she was pregnant, I'm thinking, Oh, I wonder if she'll continue to climb. And then it was really fun Watching her continued to climb and share that journey so openly on social media, especially as her bump bump got bigger. And I think that she even did a post where she got her husband to wear a fake bump to see what it looked like, you know, and she shared her advice that she had from medics. What I thought was really interesting is the tone of her social media posts. To me, very much sounded not apologetic, but like she was having to explain constantly that she'd taken medical advice, that she was doing it safely, that she knew what her limits were. I mean, she's a professional athlete. If they don't know how good and strong their bodies are what they're capable of, and there's no hope for the rest of pregnant women doing activities, to be honest. So I think I read her posts and followed her with quite a lot of interest and the media that's been around it since I mean the proof in the pudding. She's just had a healthy baby, so whatever she was doing, it was obviously right for her. Um and I really, really, really pleased for her. But I do think it's an interesting conversation about women in sport during pregnancy. Yes, it's really subjective, but I think that so many people have an opinion about it good or bad. And that in itself is a bit of an issue, really, because it's there's something about being pregnant and I've got an eight week old, so I've nearly got over that hurdle. Um, people feel the need to pass comment on you about what you're doing and I ran.

KERI: I did my 100

SOPHIE: apart from when I was 34 weeks pregnant and I had my son Two weeks later. He was early and it was really interesting. The responses I got as a pregnant person and I felt self conscious about it, But I got a lot of positivity as well. And I just think good for Shauna. And it's really it's really important to see pregnant women continuing to do activities and to talk about it because it was a lot of women out there who still don't think that you can and should be active during pregnancy. And there isn't enough information out there. And having her

KERI: journey

SOPHIE: shared just sparks. That conversation, um, just introduces people to new ideas because people are still really old fashioned and it's only moms like me, probably you actually go out and do the research and think, Can I do this? That actually won't work out whether it's safe or not. But other people who have got no idea or not doctors or you know anyone important we'll tell you what they think all the time and will be based on age old, you know, stereotypes of women, and it's just really, really unhelpful. So I think this is really, really positive for Sean to share her journey, and I'm really, really pleased. She did.

FRAN: Yeah, thank you, and we will talk a little bit more in general as you say about post pregnancy and also the general culture around pregnancy within sports and adventure sports. But I would be really interested to hear, because you've both pulled up the very positive aspects of this going very mainstream and going into lots of different articles. Um, I would love to know if there was any point as a climber and a non climber and a mom, and

SOPHIE: I might have to grab myself.

KERI: Yeah,

FRAN: I'll, um, I'll come over to Kirsty whilst we have Sophie being the active mom that she is and going and grabbing her newborn. Um, so I would like to ask you, Kirstie as a as a climber who is not a mum. Was there any point when you were watching Shauna through her journey there that you did feel a little bit nervous for her? Or is something that was just like a natural reaction to be a bit nervous or as a climber, where you're just, like, very confident in her?

KIRSTY: I mean, I think the thing with Shawna is her climbing level is ridiculously high. You know, she she's a professional climate and has been for years. So, watching her, you kind of knew everything she was doing. She be well within her limits. And although, you know, the stuff she was doing while she was pregnant is probably where fairly beyond what I could do, you know, it's it's quite it's well, well within shortness limits. And I think she was pretty clear about how she was climbing, how she was going about it. You know, it wasn't a case of pushing herself or there was a lot of thought went into each climb as to whether or not it would be safe. So I don't think there's anything I saw that I was like, Oh, not sure I would do that. I think it all seemed just extremely What's the word? I want to be calculated, but that makes it sound a bit a bit

FRAN: like

KIRSTY: scientific. Yeah, yeah, but yeah, we all seem to be just kind of like Yeah, well, well analysed before she did anything. And I don't know if part of that is because she's so much in the public eye. Um, and maybe it is, but yeah, I didn't I didn't look hard and think anything looked risky. Mm.

FRAN: Yeah, that's that's good. That's interesting because I'm going to drop a bit of the conversation I had with Kerry in in a second. But one thing that she kind of like talked about a bit was that concept of It's a little bit of possibly just the misunderstanding over the sport in general that the comments that were coming from people didn't always necessarily seem to be coming from climbers. And I don't know if that's something which so for you get with with the sports that you do, whether the feedback seems to be coming from people within the sport or whether it's from people that are possibly a little bit confused about the sport in general.

KIRSTY: I

SOPHIE: think it's really interesting, isn't it? Is a lot of sort of armchair experts out there, and it's always I found. So I cold water swam through my pregnancy and I ran and actually the swimmers and runners out there would always just be like, good on you. It was always the people that don't do those sports who would be like you sure you should be doing that and I just think it's really interesting that the people who don't have that experience and art expert, the first ones to sort of criticise or comment on, Um and I don't mind if they ask you, like, is that safe? Is that appropriate? That's okay. It's more that sort of, you know, should you be doing that. That is more difficult because it's very sort of passive aggressive. And if you're not confident, I think in what you're doing, then that's the kind of comment that will stop you from doing it. And I think with sure that, you know, I think when she shared her journey, I got the feeling that she was preempting some of those comments by explaining what she was doing was well within her ability that she takes the advice of that kind of thing, that she was almost ready for. The sort of, um, commentators. You know, she's she's probably had this all her life, you know, more or another, not outside of the pregnancy. So I suspect she was prepared and she started sharing this journey for what was going to come.

FRAN: Yeah, I think that's a really good point. And even though this is fairly recently gone very mainstream, like I said, um, it's not something that's new. I think people have been climbing through pregnancy, probably as long as people have been climbing. And it's something which we're going to hear now. A little bit from Kerry Wallace, who wrote an article about climbing while she was pregnant back in 2000 and 16. Which feels like it's yesterday to me but actually is six years ago now, Um, so we will drop in that conversation now with Carrie hearing a little bit about her experience. Um, and interestingly, it's a little bit different to showing us because Kerry talked about trad climbing rather than bouldering and the differences there as well.

KERI: I

FRAN: really wanted to get some insight from people like yourself carry because I'm not a climber, for one thing, but I also have no experience of pregnancy. You, on the other hand, have talked about that quite openly in the past, so I'd like you to, for the listeners, just give us a short insight into your personal experience of being active and specifically climbing whilst you were pregnant.

KERI: Sure, so I now have a seven year old and a five year old. So this was maybe seven years ago, My first experience of being pregnant and trying to continue my sport in through pregnancy. And at the time I didn't really feel there was any information specifically about climbing, and I was searching the Internet and I couldn't really find any particular advice. There was some advice about sport, but at that time, even just seven years ago, it was still the predominant message was still actually just to take it pretty easy, you know, to be active, but in a really gentle way and sort of step back from from from, you know, anything unusual basically anything that might be even at all controversial or strenuous, say, And it was like, you know, go for walks, go swimming, do yoga kind of thing. And I was like, Well, that they're not my sports but about the things that I do all the time, that feel normal to me. And you know, sometimes the medical professionals would say, You know, you must do what feels normal for you, but the question in your mind is, Well, what if what's normal for me is quite unusual for people? Where do I find that information? And there wasn't really anything out there, so I did a lot of interviews and speaking to other people and finally sort of have a scientific background. So I suppose that made me more curious to dig a bit deeper into you know, what's happening with the body. And what does that mean in terms specifically of climbing? Um, yes. So I had taken a particular interest in it because I wanted to keep climbing. And I think, unlike Shawna, my main thing was sort of trad climbing. So I had different questions. It was things like, Well, what happens? You know, do what kind of harness do I need and different questions? You know, the issue wasn't well. I do a strenuous move. And what happens if I fall off maybe quite as much? Or if I jump down, you know that the bouldering wall? It might be more a question of what happens if, Yeah, I take a slip on a rope or I'd be laying somebody else and they fall off. Or what kind of routes are safe for me to do so? There were different questions, and there weren't really answers out there, so I did have to find my own way with it, a little bit. And obviously there were people out there women out there who had climbed through pregnancy, and but they just weren't there wasn't, as you say in the mainstream media, for sure, And it was. There was a little bit of information in the climbing space that you could find, but none of it had really been pulled together. But now, already, just seven years later, there's Masses more and there's even mums, climbing groups, and there's just much more awareness around it. And what Sean has done is totally, as you say, pushed that into a whole another level. Um, yeah. So my own experience was like finding my own ways because I was quite uncertain. Yeah, and I had negatives and positives for sure.

FRAN: Yeah, And when you say negatives and positives there is that in terms of the way that people were reacting to you climbing or in terms of some of the things that you came across whilst you were finding your way,

KERI: So I I noticed in one of the articles that the interviewed Shauna that she mentioned that she actually didn't really experience any negativity from people in real life. Just, you know, just online and and that's actually something I found as well, which is that people don't really come up to you and criticise you to your face. But if you put something up online, then you're just wide open to that to that criticism. And, you know, when I so I did write an article about it which went up online. And when I did do that, I had to actually decide to make a decision not to read the forum and not to read the comments because I started by trying to respond to them. And I just found it really upsetting, and I had to step away. And now I have no idea what they say. And I don't really want to know because, you know, you have to make your own decisions and, you know, everyone will always question you, but you have to do to do what you know is best for you, for your child. So I did receive quite a bit of negativity online, but I didn't really experience it in person. I suppose there was some surprise, you know, and you meet people, but mostly with traditional climbing, you're not going to places where there's loads and loads of other people. So it still felt like quality solitary activity. So I wasn't getting seen by loads and loads of people. Um, yeah. So? So I didn't have that face to face negativity.

FRAN: That's interesting. I hadn't thought about that in terms of the difference between, like trad climbing like you did and the bouldering and

KERI: in the fall. And

FRAN: that kind of really

KERI: do a lot of bouldering until, uh, actually, while I was pregnant, we went to I think this was actually my second pregnancy. I went to Fontaine, Louis and friends and we went on a bouldering holiday. And it wasn't until I started, sort of. Really. I thought just a really easy bouldering that it occurred to me that, like, Yeah, I haven't got a rope aunts and I felt like what I fall, even though not very high up if I fall is actually potentially worse because I haven't got tight top rope on me. And also, um, I have to get off the boulder, and some of those boulders are really big. So you have to be suddenly quite selective, like which bouldering problems can be doing. Could you definitely down flying them because you definitely get off the boulder a different way. You couldn't really jump down and and I did end up quite covered in chalky handprints because my friends were like, Man had me off these bold and get me to how safely? So I didn't have to do any jumping down. So it was a bit of a team effort if I'm honest. But it did strike me suddenly like, yeah, really different questions for you. Climbing best bouldering.

FRAN: Yeah, now that is really interesting. It seems like such a simple thing. But then again, not coming from the climbing background, it's just like it's just climbing to me. And I suppose that's yeah, that's part of it. With the feedback that people are getting. If they're not climbers, you can understand why there might be a little bit more apprehension from onlookers if they just don't understand the sport

KERI: totally. And I think it's, you know, I think that's understandable from the general public. They don't understand the sport, and the association with climbing is immediately well, it must be risky because you fall that you could fall. The idea that you're on a rope and particularly might go on a tight rope coming from above you, you know, would mean that you don't You can't go anywhere. So actually, it's really, you know, pretty safe from that point of view. Um, so, yeah, it's, you know, people's sort of expectations. The actual facts are the facts around it were more to do with things like actually, shoes don't fit anymore. Or actually, I have to wear a full body harness because you can't wear one that goes around your waist because it puts pressure on the bump, and it put it would put pressure and forces in the wrong places. So from sort of 12 weeks onwards, I had to buy, like, a full body harness and use that and that changes. So

FRAN: that's one that would go over. You go over your shoulders and stuff.

KERI: Yeah, exactly. And how many changes how you climb and how you out sale and how you lower off. And then, yeah, where you put your everything was a bit different basically, and you had to start thinking about the routes that you climbed in a different way. But a lot of it is just a misunderstanding from the general public about what the risks, including our, you know, for so long there's been a real emphasis on mhm. You know, moms and mothers or pregnant people, too. To be, you know, all about the baby is almost as if as soon as you become pregnant that you're not relevant as a person anymore, you know? And there's so many reasons why a climate might continue to climb in pregnancy. You know, obviously the baby's health is really important. That kind of goes without saying. But there's also the mother's fitness and their health, their identity. You know, if there if something climate is a part of what they do and their life and maybe their livelihood, um, they're obviously going to need to keep that going. And if you just step away from everything that you are, as soon as you become pregnant, you lose your confidence, you know? And it's much, much more of a journey back. No, I actually didn't climb out like outside trad climbing right through into my third trimester. I probably I can't remember exactly now when it was, but I think it was at some point in my second trimester. I just got less and less, um, did less and less towards the end. And but obviously I wasn't doing a lot of Hill running a lot of mountaineering or anything like that, because those days were very big and strenuous for me at that time. And I did used to look on at the mountains and saying, I'll never do that again And my confidence and my expectations of myself just really shifted and I found it quite frightening because I felt I was already changing into a different person. Perhaps the person I didn't really want to be And you're desperate. You'll get that person back again afterwards because it's so life changing and it's super important for Mom as well. To have that health and health is more than just what your body is doing. Yeah, so I think that's why it's important.

SOPHIE: Is there something to be said as well, for sort of not the instagram age. But you know, Shauna has definitely harnessed the power of social media. She's got a huge following and she, you know, she used that to great effect during the Olympics and

KERI: I think

SOPHIE: it's the visual side of it. That's really striking, especially pregnant women. When you've got your belly out and you're bouldering, you're hanging off, it looks brilliant. I mean, I just look at and think Wow, badass. But I suspect other people's response isn't that good? You know, I wasn't comfortable as a pregnant woman to walk around with my bum paying out, but that's just because it feels so vulnerable. Like I wanted it covered up, you know, just for my part, I don't mind it being visible, but just I didn't want to show it. And I think Shawna was quite brave in the fact that she was really visible with it and sort of proudly pregnant. And I think I don't know why. That seems to trigger responses in people as well. So I think being proudly pregnant and exercising in a sort of instagram age, you know, I think there's something in that was, I think women have climbed before or climb, you know, in not such a public way, and people just like or whatever, But the fact that sureness chose to do it so publicly and such a visual media, it was really interesting, you know, I think that Spurs so many reactions because it's front and centre as it is, no avoiding what she's doing. She wasn't sort of doing it shyly or pretending she wasn't bouldering. She was blatantly there. You

KERI: know,

SOPHIE: doing it in front of everybody and on social media, and I think

KERI: it's

SOPHIE: the age we live in. Now you're going to do it so publicly you're going to invite comment. And with all the trolling and all sorts of comments people like to share on social media from their armchairs, I think you're always going to get good and bad. And I think it's good that the media picked up on it and sort of try to produce, not balanced, because some of them obviously weren't all balanced. But at least sort of explain, you know, shared it as a as a news piece as opposed to just commenting on her, really. And I think that was better. Really? Yeah,

FRAN: yeah, I think that's a really good point. And I was saying about one of the posts that Shauna shed and she was talking about her core strength and she did a little video where she she was literally like pulling in her bump and then, like like to hang out again and that kind of thing, And not only was absolutely, just, like, astounded at how much core strength anyone can have, because I have none at the moment. But also, there was a bit of me that, um not being familiar with pregnancy, I've never really been around very many pregnant people at all. Um, there was a little bit of me watching that that, like you say, she was very proud and the bump was open. It wasn't underneath any clubs or anything like that. Um, it did kind of like, just freaked me out a little bit because it's so different to

KIRSTY: how a

FRAN: body might look usually as it were is a very, um, yeah, it's just something which, honestly, like my my gut reaction to seeing that is, I'm not used to seeing that.

KIRSTY: Yeah,

FRAN: and like, that's That's my gut reaction. But that is my gut reaction, because I'm not used to seeing that. It doesn't mean we shouldn't see it. It probably means the opposite. It means that it should be out there more because it's a very natural thing that obviously isn't around enough if people like me are coming across it for the first time in a social media post. So, um, I have just remembered as well, Kirstie, I was going to ask you something in particular, which is, uh, you obviously teach climbing and lead climbing to two questions are intertwined. Is there anyone that you have taught or lead that you you've known was pregnant? And in that instance, do you have a particular protocol or procedures or different way of leading? Or would you know how to lead them if they were pregnant and heavily pregnant as well?

KIRSTY: Yeah. So I've not had anybody that I know of that was pregnant while I was teaching climbing. And I know within kind of the mountaineering instructor world that there's semi regular discussions because people get inquiries and kind of try and figure out where we stand with it because, you know, we need to have insurance cover and whether, like, our liability insurance covers it and all this kind of thing. And I think generally it comes down to how comfortable the pregnant person is, what what they feel like they can do. And you know if if we need to offer different equipment. So, like, I don't have a full body harness that I could give to somebody. So, yes, that that would potentially, like, prevent me from working with somebody who is pregnant. I've had a woman who was six months pregnant on like a mountain leader, of course. And she was She was perfectly happy to do everything and kind of, you know, just was very aware and altered little things if she felt she needed to. But yeah, I think it was really cool. It was really cool to see that, actually, on the Mountain Leader training course,

FRAN: That's really interesting that there is conversations happening in within, within the sport and within kind of like mountain leaders in general. Do you think you'll get to the stage where there is a a specific protocol, or will it just remain on a person by person basis?

KIRSTY: I think it will mostly be a person by person basis. I reckon each instructor will probably have you know what they're comfortable with. And some instructors might just be like, No, um, I'm not comfortable because I don't know enough for, like, you know, So I think it will be dependent on the instructors or the organisations and then and then on the client. I think the good thing in a lot of those conversations that's brought in is managing instructors that have been pregnant and how they've kind of dealt with it and how they've gone through pregnancies, how long it's taken them to get back to stuff and all that kind of thing as well. So we've got that input, which is really, really useful.

FRAN: Yeah.

KERI: Mhm.

FRAN: So what I might ask you then, Sophie, you said at the start that you have the podcast. What next, mum? And one of the reasons you did that was to start connecting with other moms and and learn a little bit about their journey. Can you give us a little bit of an idea of some of the sports that the moms you've had on have have talked about and what kind of range we're talking about in terms of extreme list and that kind of thing?

SOPHIE: Yeah. I mean, I'm a runner, so I've tended to interview quite a lot of other runners, mainly because they're probably on my radar a bit more, and it's like everything is that you sort of go to what you know. So I think there's probably about 28 or 29 episodes of the podcast that are available, Um, and a good proportions. Those are runners and talking about extreme, and you're probably because it made the BBC news. Kirsty Brotherhood. I think it was last year around the Southern up the way. 270 miles in four days, non stop when her baby was 11 months old. You know, that's pretty amazing and extreme. I interviewed um, and Daniels, who didn't Arctic Expedition, and her triplets were just a few months old, you know? So we're talking some pretty big things, you know, for new moms to be doing. But equally, you know, it isn't all completely extreme. I've interviewed Jean Dog, who's a track athlete. I have interviewed Hill walkers, you know, it's just active women. You don't have to be extreme athletes. I just wanted to normalise this idea that you can stay active during pregnancy. Talk about some of the issues that happen after pregnancy that women aren't always aware of. You know, most women, you have a baby and you have your six week GP check and I just had mine. The GP basically says you're right and off you go on your merry way. And most women take that as a sign that they can go back to exercise their G. P check isn't designed to check that you are in a fit and healthy state physically to exercise. And one of the major women's issues for most women is whether your pelvic floor is going to cope with going back to especially things like running, because obviously it's more of an impact on your body, and I kind of wanted. Some women are quite happy to talk about the impact of their pelvic health post in Italy and how that helps them, because that's obviously a huge barrier to sport. If you're leaking when you're out on a run, you're probably not going to do it. And people need to know they can access help as well. And just to normalise the conversations around return to sport. And one of the major things I found really from talking to these women is that it isn't easy. Most women are quite driven to do it, and it's all about the power of support as well. Most of the women that return to sport or any kind of activity have got really supportive partners, really supportive parents, friends, you know, people that are basically but I hold your baby for you Some sports you can do with your child. I spoke to Jess Bruce, who got the marathon buggy world record, both with a single and a double buggy office. You can do it with her Children, but most women

KERI: want to

SOPHIE: turn to support. They can't take their kids with them, so you need people to help you and even just being able to ask for help and know that that's acceptable. I spoke to Mark O. Sullivan, who

KERI: I wrote a

SOPHIE: couple of brilliant books about her adventures, and one is bike bumping baby. And she said she put her child in nursery to be able to go out and do sport. I remember thinking when I heard that that was a revelation, that you could put your child in childcare and go and do something that you love for you. I don't think most women would think that was acceptable, so I think these conversations are really, really important and I think healthy Children normally have healthy moms. And so I think it's another thing you know, women shouldn't be thinking. This is a selfish thing to be doing. It should be something that's really important for their own physical mental health. But also it's going to help them hopefully raise healthier. You know, more outdoorsy Children. So it's and Maria the reasons why I start the podcast and the women I've spoken to have been so inspiring, and I'm really glad they've been willing to share their experiences. Really, because I think other women need to hear that whether you're a mom or thinking about being a mom,

FRAN: I might just play you. I have got it here. I think I think you kind of like answered it a little bit, but also be nice to just get a little bit of proper bouncing off what Kerry says. So it will just be a couple of minutes of a very similar part of the conversation.

KERI: I think that this sort of judgement around the decisions that mothers make when they're pregnant is also true in other spheres of, you know, having Children or being a parent. So, for example, just staying active and adventurous in general. So, for example, walking up hills is still being out there in the mountains with a big bump. You know, I got a lot of people commenting to me about should you be not should you be out here, But, you know, I didn't expect to see you in fact, overtaking people what was pregnant, get some negative comments about that, you know, passing people on the trail, even working, you know, even being a parent and the judgement and the stigma around being a working mom, you know, is like you're trying to make the best decision for your for your family and your life and your job and your dynamic. And there's this judgement constantly around your decision because you should be this kind of This is what a mother is. This is what you know. Your job is or this is where your responsibility lies and there's just Yeah, I'm surprised. I'd like to see more people stepping back from that and letting people respecting people's judgments about their own life choices. Really? And it extends beyond childbirth because I then went to experience baby carrying, carrying my tear in a backpack walking up and down hills and now started to take them climbing. And I know it's going to be the same, you know, with them climbing, you know, young Children in a climbing harness on a rope horror, you know, like so it is actually the first step in a journey of judgement around parenting and staying active and adventurous, you know? But obviously, if you just wrap everybody up in bubble wrap and don't experience anything and don't, you know, stay true to you know, the values perhaps that you have in the interests that you have. And if people don't respect your judgement, then yeah, you just you Yeah, you lose out on the life that you've enjoyed, Um, and and then you have to become somebody completely different, and you don't get to, you know, you don't get to in my case, show your young family the stuff that you love and give them the many benefits that come with that. So, yeah, just the the widest sort of judgement around parents staying active in the venture s, I think.

SOPHIE: Oh, this really strikes a chord.

FRAN: Yeah, I can imagine Is nice. Just kind of like hear that from other people,

SOPHIE: which my my oldest son is six years old and I think things have changed in six years. Obviously, carries article was six years ago, but I think my bag by bag around a lot with my first son. And I remember people saying to me, Is he enjoying that? Should he should you be doing that or a bit like God, you're so selfish. You're so desperate for run that you're going to force your child to sit in a push for an hour whilst you do that. And I just thought that if I was out here just strolling around quietly, whether baby pusher, nobody would say anything to me, but because he's in a sport push here and I'm running That somehow makes me a bad mom, and I just I'm thinking you don't know me. I don't know my kid like just how dare you? Um,

KERI: but yeah,

SOPHIE: I mean that that whole wider issue about parenting and people passing judgement. It's just an ongoing thing. And there just seems to be something about women's bodies, pregnancy and parenting that other

KERI: people seem to

SOPHIE: feel like it's open season that they were allowed to say something to you, and it's just it's a shame that it still happens. But it does. And even when I was pregnant with this little one, um, like that I openly ran and most people 99 so that people are good on you, but you definitely would get the odd, especially if I ever took somebody or something like that. They'd be like, Oh, oh, you're pregnant Oh, should you be doing that? And I just was thinking, It's just that tone of voice that's like, You know, you don't really belong here And like I said before, I think if I wasn't I was less confident that would have made me stop sooner. But I was quite confident in my research and my body to feel like I could do that.

FRAN: Yeah, I think the fact that yeah, you know there's a sports buggy, there's a running buggy. So therefore, you would assume that if there's if there's stuff that if there's the tools to be able to do that, then it must be safe to do I would think Yeah, although

SOPHIE: interestingly, I think the running buggies they don't advertise themselves as running buggies that it's really weird, like it's like they almost don't want to tell you that you can run with a baby in the buggy because there's like some liability issue around it. I don't know. But there is. There's a really great Facebook group started by Wendy Rumble, who did a sold running bugs in the UK for a while before when they first came here over here. And it's a really great forum because there's a lot of information. You know, some women think you can just put your baby in a buggy and go running. You've got to wait until they're six months until their next are strong enough, basically. So even if you do want to run with your baby buggy, you still

KERI: you still have to go

SOPHIE: find information about which buggy when it's safe to do it, that kind of thing and it's still not that clear. Really, Like I said, you've got to be enthusiast. You've got to want to do it, baby, make possibly to go off and find that information for yourself. So I think more mainstream information is

KERI: helpful, really.

KIRSTY: I think there's a few kind of parallels that are interesting to look at as well in terms of the attitude around Dad's in the outdoors. So I know like Carey's husband, Ben takes the girls climbing as well, and I'd be interested to know whether he would get the same judgments and comments or whether that's more like, OK, that's Dad taking his kids out. But the other thing is Alex,

SOPHIE: I suspect, not meet

KIRSTY: me to Alex Honnold has just become a dad recently, Um, and it's interesting to see the media around that and how different it is, considering both Alex Honnold and Shawna Cox, professional climbers. And, yes, it's light in quite different disciplines. But still, it's a it's a different kind of media. Um,

SOPHIE: do you think if he then did free solo now people would say, That's pretty selfish. You've got kids?

KIRSTY: I think, Yeah, I think they probably would. But I think the other interesting thing is, you know, in the nineties Alison Hargreaves, who was like a high altitude mountaineer, both while she was pregnant and with young kids and kind of the discussion around that. And yeah, I think a lot of her teammates were guys who were dads but doesn't get the same. Yeah,

SOPHIE: I just really, really lovely book. I don't if you come across a Helen Mort, a line in the Sky very much talked about her own mountaineering and pregnancy journey, but very much talked about Alison Hargreaves. It's almost though Alison's story was very much in her mind during her pregnancy, and she touched on some of these issues. It's a lovely book. I definitely recommend it. Um, but you're right. And actually, I spoke to Marshall Gordon on my podcast, who's a mountaineer? And she said, You know, she was Every space camp is the only mum, and everyone was like, What about your kids? You know, should you be doing it? And she just turned around and be like, He's a dad. He's a dad. Have you asked them how their kids feel about it? You know, But it's just it's just something about being a woman, isn't it? You're somehow more responsible for your Children's mental health and happiness and safety. Yeah, if you're a dad, perhaps.

KIRSTY: Yeah. And like, I don't want to make this super political, but in my mind, I kind of also see these judgments is like a lot less extreme but a similar mindset to the kind of abortion debate that's going on in the US, where, you know, like the kind of the women or the pregnant person is forgotten about. And it's all about the baby. And, yeah, I think it's It's a similar mindset, although in a much less extreme way then what's currently happening in the U. S. But they just always seems to be this. As soon as you're pregnant, you lose autonomy and everyone has a right to say and like how they think you should be keeping your baby the healthiest obviously not been pregnant. I've not experienced that. But just But

SOPHIE: no, I mean that that loss of autonomy and that loss of identity is a real real issue. And I suspect, you know, so many women suffer from the presidential depression, mental health issues around pregnancy. And it was something I was really scared of when I first became pregnant, because it's like you're supposed to flip a switch and one day you're gonna become a mum, but you're not. You're just yourself doing your own thing, being pregnant, and I remember people said to me, Oh, well, you won't be able to do as much when you're when you had your baby, and I'm thinking that's just the meanest thing you could say to me like, Why would you say that to an active pregnant woman and then discovering that really wasn't true? That actually it's not mutually exclusive? You can't. You don't have to be a mom or a runner or a climber like you can be all of these things and you can keep your child safe and you can keep yourself mentally well. And I think forgetting about Mother's mental health and physical health is just ridiculous. You know, there is obviously a problem women do suffer, and I think the more pressure you put on them that's only going to be exacerbated. I think allowing women the space to be all of these things is really, really important. And like I said, you're more likely to be a better mama Mama and raise healthier, more stable Children if you yourself are happy. So why people feel the need to pass judgement or criticise or comment is it's really difficult to be honest, but they do and they will continue to do so and the more conversations we have, and the more we normalise these activities, the better. Really, Because, like I said, I don't think unless you're pregnant, you go out and look for information about what's safe and what's not. And the more Sean is out there that are putting out information about what isn't safe, the next climate that comes along and does this, hopefully people go, Oh, well, actually, probably is safe Surely did it. And she's had a healthy baby. You know, it's it's that trickle effect. Hopefully,

FRAN: well, uh, never apologised for being political in a conversation with,

KIRSTY: uh,

SOPHIE: it could have been a dangerous slot land. I'm definitely one for around if given half a chance with

KIRSTY: yeah,

FRAN: so May is a massively busy month for awareness of a variety of causes. It was action on stroke month, National Walking Month, community and Local History month. We had any awareness week World Lupus Day Do go and follow our panellist Anne patters for more on that, this week has also Epilepsy Awareness Week, which is obviously a big topic for me. And if you haven't listened to our Purple Day episode from back in March, please do go and check that one out. And it was also Mental Health Awareness Week a couple of weeks ago, and this is something which has been getting a lot more conversation over the past couple of years. And we obviously heard about it in a talk there about active moms and healthy moms that mental health can be very intrinsically linked to activity outdoors and that kind of thing. So I did want to just touch on that topic very quickly and ask you if there was anything that you all saw during Mental Health Awareness Week that either very much resonated with you or that was a particularly good social media post or campaign from brands that you just like to highlight for people.

KIRSTY: I don't think there's any one thing that really, that's really like stuck in my memory. But I do just feel that, yeah, as you're saying, it's it's become a lot more open and a lot more of my instagram is kind of people chatting about mental health and how the outdoors impacts it, Um, and the positive impact the outdoors have, which Yeah, definitely. I see it in myself as well, you know, like I get grumpy if it's rainy for too long and I don't want to go outside. Um um,

FRAN: because the person living in Scotland

KIRSTY: I know and like the wettest May ever Yeah, but yeah. No, no. One thing I don't think I'm afraid

SOPHIE: I'm probably wrong person to ask because I've been in, like, new Baby Fog for weeks now. But the one thing I did really like actually is when I did see my GP two weeks ago and maybe because with mental Health Awareness Week, she didn't actually say to me if I asked if I could now go cold or swimming again, Yes, go. I'm sure that's really good for your mental health. And I was like, Yes, thank you. So I think it's probably one of those things that I think a lot of GPS are prescribing, aren't they? Things like Park Ron and outdoor swimming like people realised that engaging with the outdoors is better than sleeping using pills. So I thought that was really interesting that I had that from my gp, as opposed to just off you go. You're fine. That's

FRAN: really nice to hear, because you do get it occasionally with doctors doctors are there to kind of protect you and like, make you better, aren't they? So sometimes the potential for them to be a little bit overcautious in my experience, Um, I found that nurses are almost the opposite, and nurses will encourage you to go and do what's like best for you as a whole person. But that's, uh, definitely, definitely nice to hear that a doctor was very encouraging of you from from the mental health side of things as well as the physical side of things. So, yeah, and to end this conversation, I'm just going to drop in a little bit of my chat with Kerry so that we can hear one of the things that she wants to highlight.

KERI: I think when I started working, so we set up girls on hills and we started taking women out in the hills. So that's the purpose, if you like, of the business that I run. It was really to take people hill walking and trail running. It wasn't actually didn't have an emphasis at all and mental health. But what my colleague Nancy and I discovered almost immediately was that when people get out in the Hills. They'll open up in there. When they're in a supportive group, they'll open up and talk about things that perhaps they didn't think they would talk about. And a group like that can be really supportive and your meeting like minded people and you're out there in nature and you've got a lot of time together and there's no distractions of, like, normal, day to day life. So what was coming out again and again and again, was that a lot of people who we were seeing a turning to the hills and turning to mountain sort of recreation for Yeah, respite, really escapism, you know, mindfulness, all these different things. But a lot of that was around mental health issues and and we felt a little bit like panicked because we felt that we wanted to help people. But that's not really an area we have experience or credentials in. So the only way that we could help them was just through allowing them to get into these places and meet other people. And so that's what we continue to do. But there is definitely a space there for using the outdoors for the benefit of people's mental health, And I've noticed that that mind over mountains, which is annexed any thoughts company, they've obviously been going for some time now and gaining some some sort of traction and some popularity there. And I just really like what he's doing on what they're doing as a group in making it really accessible for people and getting people outside for these sessions that are free, Um, and really, really supportive and, you know, across the country and sort of yeah, just using what he calls it the Natural Health Service. So I just really like that. Yeah. And I just think I can well imagine the value of that. And so I'm always really impressed to see the work that they're doing around Mental Health Awareness Week. Yeah,

FRAN: I love Alex. I spoke to as I spoke to, I did a like a email Q and A for my O G podcast seizure adventure because he had seizures when he was younger. So he has a bit of experience there, and he was one of the few people that I could find that was like you had seizures and you've been like hiking get really high altitude and gone to Everest and stuff like, what did they say? What are the kind of like health checks that they had to do with you and that kind of thing? And it was just really

KERI: yeah, really inspirational. And the work that the group is excellent. And I can imagine that it's, you know, for people who join the group, I can imagine it's extremely beneficial.

FRAN: Yeah, Yeah.

KERI: Well, yes,

FRAN: but he was so young when

KERI: you started doing it. It was just like, Oh, my God. Yeah. So why is this? Yeah, No, it's true. It's true. So lots of information from us on that.

FRAN: Yeah. Mhm. Those are the main news stories for today. But in other news, mhm. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. A popular trail running event has received criticism for last minute changes that made the event unsafe. Trail pursuit events feature trail races, live music, yoga and wellness. Their recent Lake District event had last minute changes to some of the routes that tripled the amount of elevation and took runners into difficult terrain. I was going to quote some of the feedback trail pursuit had received, but they have removed all comments from their INSTAGRAM account founder Ed Flood has issued an apology on Instagram, calling it a steep learning curve. Turning the Cogs is a data led research project aiming to increase the diversity of the start line at cycling events. The survey is now live, so if you enjoy cycling as a regular pastime, they are looking to reach a minimum of 3000 riders. And all folks and spokes are welcome to do this survey. Despite the rapid growth of cycling on roads and trails, we have more diverse groups appearing. The starting lines of events still don't reflect the real world. We talk about that a bit in Episode three, so do head back to that one if you haven't listened to it yet. More cycling related news June is Pride Month, and Emily Bridges is the cover star of Diva magazine. Diva is the leading magazine for LGBT Q I women and non binary people, and Emily Bridges is a competitive cyclist who came out as Trans two years ago. The all the Elements Online Disabilities Campaigner Social takes place on the 14th of June at seven p.m. It will be a chance for disability campaigners working in the outdoors to meet each other. The event is for anyone who identifies as either disabled or chronically ill or both. The event is led by outdoors disability activist and on the outside Panellist Anne Patas. I will also be there, so we do like to end our conversations on the podcast with a call to action from each of the panellists. So that is a tangible thing that you, as listeners can do to help just change the narratives or increase the positives within the outdoor space. So, Kirstie, can I ask you for your call to action for today?

KIRSTY: Yes. So I'm an ambassador for the Martin Moran Foundation, which was a charity set up by Martin Moran's family after he died in the Himalayas. And their aim is to get young people into climate imaginary ring that would be able to access it normally so they have. Their applications are open at the moment until June 30th. So if you know of or know somebody that works with 16 to 18 year olds, that would be able to nominate somebody. All costs are covered, including equipment, and it's up in Scotland, so it's a really, really great opportunity and the courses in October. So Yeah, get nominating.

FRAN: And Sophie, how about yourself? Your call to action for today.

SOPHIE: This is gonna be one for any parents out there, not just moms. But there's a brilliant parent and walking baby group called Blaze Trails. And I'm the Bristol organiser and I think going back to sort of mental health and just being visible in the outdoors as a parent with a baby. If you want to get outside of your kids, go and look at the group, find a local one or become a local organiser And just meet some like my parents and get outside with your with your little ones.

FRAN: Yeah, lovely. Can you just repeat the name of that? Was it blazed a trail

SOPHIE: blazed, trails

FRAN: blazed, trails lovely. Thank you. And my call to action for today is if you'd like to hear more about all of these stories that we talked about today, including the other news stories. The best thing to do is to sign up for the on the outside newsletter. Has been a little bit quite recently, I do admit, but we do send out a newsletter with each of the episodes That gives you a bit more information and some resources to go to. And it also does keep you updated between episodes as well. So I head to on the outside podcast dot co dot UK forward slash newsletter, and you can sign up there on the outside. Artwork is by Sophie Nolan. Music is based. Beats by Alex Norton on the Outside is produced by myself. Editing and transcript was done by Jack O. Driscoll This podcast is now part of the tremulous network adventure and outdoor podcasts off the beaten track. If you'd like to find out more about that ahead to tremulous dot network, Thank you to everyone who supports us on PATREON. You can do so yourself at patreon dot com. Forward slash on the outside podcast. Thank you. Of course, to all of our panellists for today Kirstie Palace, Sophie Ruffles and Kerry Wallace. And to you all for listening.


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