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E12 TRANSCRIPT: Climbing whilst pregnant, adventuring as a parent and Mental Health Awareness Week

Updated: Feb 21

THIS IS CURRENT A ROUGH AUTO TRANSCRIPT - full transcript is on its way...

[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 to On the Outside the podcast that shares diverse views on outdoors news. And today we're talking about climbing whil pregnant, going mainstream adventuring as a parent and mental health awareness week. Welcome back to the show. I am Francesca Takis. 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, Kirsty Palllas Hi, how are you?

KIRSTY: Hello. I'm doing thanks. How you doing?

FRAN: Yeah, not too bad at all.

KIRSTY: So I'm Kirsty. I'm a mountaineering instructor and I work part-time for Mountaineering Scotland as well. I'm also the founder of Our Shade Outdoors an organization looking to change the narrative about who accesses and belongs in the outdoors.

FRAN: Thank you very much. And on the call 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 Boarder, wild swimmer, Sophie Ruffles. Hello, how are you today? Would you like to introduce yourself very quickly?

SOPHIE: Well, I think you've already done that. Yeah, I'm generally, I'd say an outdoor enthusiast. I'm a mum of two and yet the host of the What Next Month podcast, which I started mainly because I wanted to engage with other mums who were active and encourage other women to continue being active during and after their pregnancies.

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

KERI: So I run 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 panelists today is because the main topic of our conversation is climbing whilst pregnant. And we have a couple of moms on the show today 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 and I'll be relying very heavily on the panel for this conversation. The reason we're talking about climbing whilst pregnant today is because the British Olympic climber, Shauna Coxsey 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 b BBC sport, the independent ITV News I think did one, the Guardian website did an interview with her. So it's gotten all over a mainstream news media essentially. 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 you first became aware of Shauna Coxy as a climber and also finding out about and seeing some of her journey as she's been talking about climbing whilst pregnant.

KIRSTY: I've probably been following Shauna Coxsey since 2014 or something years ago before the Olympics, before climbing was even mentioned about being in the Olympics because she's, she is the most successful competition climate we have in the uk. So yeah, I've been aware of her going through British Brine Championships the World Championships, and she's had a few world champion titles in bouldering 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 and then shortly after she announced she was pregnant. So it's been really cool seeing her continuing to boulder 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 are a bit like me, you are not so much within the climbing world. How did you find out about this? Was this something that you knew about before I asked you to come onto the show?

SOPHIE: Yeah, so I mean I've followed Shauna 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 her at 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 continue to climb and share that journey so openly on social media, especially as her bum 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. And she shared her advice that she'd had from medics. But what I thought was really interesting is the tone of her social media post to me very much sounded not apologetic, but 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 and what they're capable of, then there's no hope for the rest of pregnant women doing activities to be honest. So I think I read her post 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 and I really, I'm 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 something about being pregnant. And I've got an eight week old, so I've knew I've newly got over that hurdle that people feel the need to pass comment on you about what you are doing.

And I did my hundredth park Cru 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 important to see pregnant women continuing to do activities and to talk about it because I think there's 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 journey shared just sparks that conversation and just introduces people to new ideas because people are still really old-fashioned and it's only mums like me probably, who actually go out and do the research and think, can I do this? That actually went work out whether it's safe or not. But other people who've got no idea and are not doctors or anyone important will tell you what they think all the time and it'll be based on age old 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 that 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, you've both pulled up the very positive aspects of this going very mainstream and going into lots of different articles. I would love to know if there was any point as a climber and a non climber and a mom and a non,

SOPHIE: Sorry, can I pause you? I might have to grab my son feet in while we're doing that. Is that alright? Yeah,

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

KIRSTY: I mean, I think the thing with Shauna is her climbing level is ridiculously high. She's a professional climber and has been for years. So watching her, you kind of knew everything she was doing, she'd be well within her limits. And although the stuff she was doing while she was pregnant is probably well fairly beyond what I could do quite well within Shauna's limits. And I think she was pretty clear about how she was climbing, how she was going about it. 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 won't say calculated, but that makes it sound a bit <laugh>. A scientific, but you know what? Evil.

FRAN: Yeah, scientific. Yeah.

KIRSTY: But yeah, it all seemed to be just kind of like, yeah, well a well analyzed before she did anything. And I don't know if part of that is because she's so much in the public eye and maybe it is, but yeah, I didn't look on and think anything looked risky.

FRAN: Yeah, that's good. That's interesting because I'm going to drop a bit of the conversation I had with Carrie in a second. But one thing that she kind of talked about a bit was that concept of it. 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 dunno if that's something which Sophie you get 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.

SOPHIE: I think it is really interesting, isn't it? There's a lot of armchair experts out there and it's always, I found, so I cold water swam through my pregnancy and I ran actually the swimmers and runners out there would always just be good on you. It was always the people that don't do those sports who would be like, oh, are you sure you should be doing that? And I just think that's really interesting that the people who don't have that experience and aren't an expert are the first ones to criticize or comment on. And I don't mind if they ask you, is that safe? Is that appropriate? That's okay. It's more that sort of, should you be doing that? That is more difficult because it's very sort of passive aggressive. And if you are 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 Shauna, I think when she shared her journey, I got the feeling that she was preempting some of those comments by explaining that what she was doing was well within her ability, that she'd taken advice of that kind of thing, that she was almost ready for the sort of armchair commentators. She's probably had this all her life more way or another not out outside of the pregnancy. So I suspect she was prepared when 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 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, it's something which we're going to hear now a little bit from Carrie Wallace who wrote an article about climbing while she was pregnant back in 2016, which feels like it's yesterday to me, but actually is six years ago now. So we will drop in that conversation now with Carrie hearing a little bit about her experience. And interestingly, it's a little bit different to Shauna's because Carrie talked about trad climbing rather than bouldering, and the differences there as well. I really wanted to get some insight from people like yourself, Carrie, 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 to be active but in a really gentle way and sort of step back from anything unusual, basically anything that might be even at all controversial or strenuous say. And it was like, go for walks, go swimming, do yoga kind of thing. And I said, well, they're not my sports. What about the things that I do all the time that feel normal to me?

And sometimes the medical professionals would say, 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 I have a scientific background. So I suppose that made me more curious to dig a bit deeper into what's happening with the body and what does that mean in terms specifically of climbing? Yeah, so I had taken a particular interest in it because I wanted to keep climbing. And I think unlike Shauna, my main thing was sort of trad climbing. So I had different questions. It was things like, well, what happens? What kind kind of harness do I need? And different questions. The issue, will I do a strenuous move?

And what happens if I fall off maybe quite as much? Or if I jump down the bouldering wall, it might be a question of what happens if I take a slip on a rope or I'm belaying somebody else and they fall off? Or what kind of roots 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, but there just weren't, as you say, in the mainstream media for sure. And 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 mum's climbing groups and there's just much more awareness around it. And what Sean has done is has totally, as you say, pushed that into a whole nother level. So my own experience was finding my own way. So I suppose I was quite uncertain and I had negatives and positives for sure.

FRAN: 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 noticed in one of the articles that interviewed Shauna that she mentioned that she actually didn't really experience any negativity from people in real life just online. And that's actually something I found as well which was that people don't really come up to you and criticize you to your face, but if you put something up online, then you are just wide open to that criticism. And so I did write an article about it, which went up online. And when I did do that, I had to actually decide, 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've no idea what they say and I don't really want to know because you know have to make your own decisions and everyone will always question you but you have to do what is best for you and 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 when 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 quite a activity. So I wasn't getting seen by loads of notes of people, 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 trad climbing like you did and the bouldering and in the wall and that kind stuff.

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

FRAN: No, 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 climbing to me. And I suppose, 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 understandable from the general publics, 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 you might be on a tight rope coming from above, you would mean that you don't go anywhere. So actually it's really pretty safe from that point of view. So yeah, it's sort of expectations. The actual fact of the facts around it were more to do with things like actually my 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 cause it puts pressure on the bump and it would put pressure and forces in the wrong places. So from sort of 12 weeks onwards I had to buy a full body harness and use that and that changes things.

FRAN: So that's one that would go over, you go over you shoulders and stuff.

KERI: Yeah, exactly. And how many changes, how you climb and how you ab sail and how you lower off and then where you put your gear, everything was a bit different basically. And you had to start thinking about the roots that you climbed in a different way. But a lot of it is just misunderstanding from the general public about what the risks in climbing are. For so long there's been a real emphasis on mums and mothers or pregnant people to be all about the baby as almost as soon as you become pregnant that you are not relevant as a person anymore. And there's so many reasons why a climber might continue to climb in pregnancy, but 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 identity. If something climbing is a part of what they do and their life and maybe their livelihood 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 and it's much, much more of a journey back. I actually didn't climb out outside climbing right through into my third trimester. I can't remember exactly now when it was, but I think it was at some point in my second trimester it just got less and less did less and less toward the end. But obviously I wasn't doing a lot of hill running or a lot of mountaineering or anything like that. Cause those days were very big and strenuous for me at that time. And I did used to look on at the mountains and think, oh 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 a person that I didn't really want to be. And you're desperate that 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. So I think that's why it's important.

SOPHIE: Is there something to be said as well for not the Instagram age, but Shawna has definitely harnessed sort of the power of social media. She's got a huge following and she used that to a great effect during the Olympics. And I think it's the visual side of it that's really striking, especially with pregnant women. When you've got your belly out and your bouldering, you are hanging off, it looks brilliant. I mean I just look at it and think, wow, badass. But I suspect other people's response isn't that good. I wasn't comfortable as a pregnant woman to walk around with my bump hanging out, but that's just because it feels so vulnerable. I wanted it covered up just for my pa. I don't mind it being visible, but just I didn't want to show it. And I think Shauna was quite brave in the fact that she was really visible with it and sort of proudly pregnant.

And I think, I dunno why that seems to trigger responses in people as well. So I think being proudly pregnant and exercising in a sort of Instagram age, I think there's something in that. Whereas I think women have climbed before or climb in not such a public way and people are just like, oh, whatever. But I think the fact that Sean chose to do it so publicly on such a visual media, it was really interesting. I think that it spurs so many reactions because it's front and center, no avoiding what she's doing. She wasn't sort of doing it shyly or pretending she wasn't bouldering, she was blatantly there doing it in front of everybody and on social media. And I think it's the age we live in now, if you're going to do it so publicly, you're going to invite comment. And with all the trolling and all the 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 tried to produce it, not a balanced view because some of them obviously weren't all balanced, but at least sort of shared it as a news piece as opposed to just commenting on her really. And I think that was better. Really.

FRAN: Yeah, I think that's a really good point. And I was saying about one of the posts that Shauna shared and she was talking about her core strength and she did a little video where she was literally pulling in her bump and then letting it hang out again and that kind of thing. And not only was absolutely just astounded at how much core strength anyone can have because I have none at the moment, but also there was that bit of me that not being familiar with pregnancy, I've never really been around very many pregnant people at all. There was a little bit of me watching that, like you say, she was very proud and the bump was open, it wasn't underneath any clothes or anything like that. It did kind of just freak me out a little bit because it's so different to how a body might look usually as it were a very yeah, it's just something which honestly my gut reaction to seeing that is I'm not used to seeing that and 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 I have just remembered as well. Kirsty, I was going to ask you something in particular, which is, yeah you obviously teach climbing and lead climbing. Yeah. Two questions are intertwined. Is there anyone that you have taught or led 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 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 the engineering instructor world there there's discussions because people get inquiries and try and figure out where we stand with it because we need to have insurance cover and whether 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 they feel like they can do and if we'd need to offer different equipment. So I don't have a full body harness that I could give to somebody. So that would potentially prevent me from working with somebody who is pregnant. I've had a woman who is six months pregnant on a mountain leader course and she was perfectly happy to do everything and 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 a mountain leader training course.

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

KIRSTY: Think it'll mostly be a person by person basis. I reckon each instructor will probably have what they're comfortable with and some instructors might just be like, no I'm not comfortable because I don't know enough or, so I think it'll be dependent on the instructors or the organizations and then on the client, I think the good thing in a lot of those conversations that's brought in is mannering 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 'em 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: So what I might ask you then, Sophie, you said at the start that you have the podcast What Next Mom? And one of the reasons you did that was to start connecting with other moms 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 talked about and what kind of range we're talking about in terms of extremeness and that kind of thing?

SOPHIE: Yeah, sure. 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 So for, I think there's probably about 28 or 29 episodes now of the podcast that are available and a good proportion of those are runners and talking about extreme and you're probably, cause it made the BBC News Kirsty, I think it was last year around the southern Upland way, 217 miles in four days nonstop when her baby was 11 months old. That's pretty amazing and extreme. I interviewed Ann Daniels who did an Arctic expedition when her triplets were just a few months old. So we're talking some pretty bigger things for new moms to be doing, but equally isn't all completely extreme. I've interviewed Jean Doggett who's a triathlete.

I've interviewed hill walkers. It's just active women, they don't have to be extreme athletes. I just wanted to normalize 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. Most women, you have a baby and you have your six week GP check and I just have mine. And the GP basically says, you are right and off you go on your merry way. And most women take that as a sign, they can go back to exercise, but their GP check isn't designed to check that you are in a fit and healthy state physically to exercise. And one of the major women 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 wanted, some women are quite happy to talk about the impact of their pelvic health postnatally and how that helps them because that's obviously a huge barrier to sport. If you are leaking when you are out on a run, you are probably not going to do it and people need to know they can access help as well. And just to normalize the conversations around return to sport 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, people that are basically going to 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.

Obviously she can do that with her children but most women want to return to sport, 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 knowing that that's acceptable. I spoke to more Sullivan who wrote a couple of brilliant books about her adventures and one is bike bump and baby and she says she put her child in nursery to be able to go out and do sport. And 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 women shouldn't be thinking that 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, more outdoorsy children. So it's a myriad of 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 mum or thinking about being a mum.

FRAN: I might just play you, I have got it here. I think you've kind of answered it a little bit, but also it'd be nice to just get a little bit of proper bouncing off what Carrie 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 judgment around the decisions that mothers make when they're pregnant is also true in other spheres of having children or being a parent. So for example, just staying active and adventurous in general. So for example, walking up hills, still being out there in the mountains with a big bump. I got a lot of people commenting to me about, should you be not out here but oh didn't expect to see you in fact overtaking people whilst pregnant. Get some negative comments about that. Passing people on the trail, even working, being a parent and the judgment and the stigma around being a working mom is like are trying to make the best decision for your family and your life and your work job and your dynamic and there's this judgment constantly around your decision because you should be, this kind of is what a mother is, this is what 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 PE respecting people's judgments about their own life choices really.

And it extends beyond childbirth because I then went to experience baby carrying my two 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 with them climbing young children in a climbing harness on a rope horror. So it is actually the first step in a journey of judgment around parenting and staying active and adventurous. But obviously if you just wrap everybody up in bubble wrap and don't experience anything and don't stay true to the values perhaps that you have and the interests that you have, and if people don't respect your judgment, then yeah, you lose out on the life that you've enjoyed and then you have to become somebody completely different and you don't get to full go. 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 widest sort of judgment around parents staying active in adventurous, I think,

SOPHIE: Oh this really striked a chord. Yeah,

FRAN: I can imagine. Nice to just kind of hear that from other people, which is again,

SOPHIE: Yeah, my oldest son is six years old and I think things have changed in six years. Obviously Carrie's article was six years ago, but I think I buggy around a lot with my first son and I remember people saying to me, is he enjoying that? Should you be doing that? Or a bit like, God, you're so selfish, you're so desperate for Ron that you are going to force your child to sit in a push chair for an hour whilst you do that. And I just thought, God, if I was out here just strolling around quietly with a premium Christian, nobody would say anything to me. But because I'm in a sport pushier and I'm running, that somehow makes me a bad mom. And I just remember thinking, you don't know me, you dunno, my kid just how dare you. But yeah, I mean that whole wider issue about parenting and people passing judgment, it's just an ongoing thing and there just seems to be something about women's bodies, pregnancy and parenting that other people seem to feel like it's open season that they're 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 is a one like I said, I openly ran and most people, 99% people were good on you. But you definitely would get the odd, especially if I overtook somebody or just something like that, they'd be like, oh, oh you're pregnant. Oh should you be doing that? And I just remember thinking it's just that tone of voice that's like, you know, don't really belong here. And like I said to you before, I think if I, if I was less confident, that would've 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 there's a sports buggy, there's a running buggy, so therefore you would assume that 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.

SOPHIE: Although interestingly, I think the running buggies, they don't advertise themselves as running buggies that it's really weird. They almost don't want to tell you that you can run with a baby and a 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 sold running buggies 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. 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 strong enough basically. So even if you do want to run with your baby in a buggy, you still have to go find the information about which buggy, when's it 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 to make possibly to go off and find that information for yourself. So I think more mainstream information is 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 dads in the outdoors. So I know Carrie's husband, Ben takes the girls climbing as well and it'd be interesting to know whether he would get the same judgments and comments or whether that's more like, oh look at this dad taking his kids out. But the other thing is, Alex,

SOPHIE: I suspect not.

KIRSTY: Yeah, me too. Alex hon has just become a dad recently and it's interesting to see the media around that and how different it is considering both Alex Hon and Sean Coxy are professional climbers and yes, in quite different disciplines, but still it's it's a different kind of media and a different,

SOPHIE: Although do you think if he then did free solo now people would say that's pretty selfish if you, you've got a

KIRSTY: Kid. I think, yeah, I think they probably would. But I think the other interesting thing is in the nineties, Alison Hargraves who was a high attitude 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 didn't get the same. Yeah,

SOPHIE: I just read a really lovely book, I dunno if you've come across a Helen Mort wrote A Line in the Sky, I've


SOPHIE: Talked about her own mountaineering and pregnancy journey, but very much talks about Alison Harri almost though Alison's story was very much in her mind during her pregnancy and she touches on some of these issues and it's a lovely book. I definitely recommend it but you are right. And actually I spoke to Masha Gordon on my podcast who's a mountain, and she said she was at every space camp as the only mom and everyone was like, well what about your kids? Should you be doing it? And she'd just turn around and be like, he's a dad. He's a dad. Yeah. Have you asked them how their kids feel about it? But it's just something about being a woman, isn't it? That you are somehow more responsible for your children's mental health and happiness and safety than if you're a dad perhaps.

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

SOPHIE: No, I mean that loss of autonomy and that loss of identity is a real issue. And I suspect so many women suffer from postnatal depression and 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 going to become a mom 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 are, you've had your baby. And I remember thinking that's just the meanest thing you could say to me. Why would you say that to an active pregnant woman? And then discovering that really wasn't true. That actually it's not mutually exclu exclusive. You can't have to be a mum or a runner or a climber.

You couldn't 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. 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 and mom and raise healthier, more stable children if you yourself are happy. So why people feel the need to pass judgment or criticize or comment is really difficult to be honest. But they do and they'll continue to do so. And the more conversations we have and the more we normalize these activities, the better really. Because like I said, I don't think unless you're pregnant you'd go out and look for information about what's safe or what's not. So the more Shawns 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 it probably is safe. Shawn did it and she's had a healthy baby. It's it, it's that trickle effect. Hopefully <laugh>,

FRAN: Well never apologize for being political in a conversation with me.

SOPHIE: We could have gone off a dangerous slot then. I'm definitely one for a round given half a chance.

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 Emmy Awareness Week, world Lupus Day Dugo and follow our panelist Annie Patas for more on that. This week is 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 our talk there about active mums and healthy mums 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 is 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 one thing that really, that's really stuck in my memory, but I do just feel that 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 impact it and the positive impact the outdoors have, which yeah, definitely I see it in myself as well. I get grumpy if it's rainy for too long and I don't want to go outside.

FRAN: So there's the person living in Scotland. Yeah,

KIRSTY: I know. And the wettest may ever, yeah. But yeah, no one thing I don't think I'm afraid

SOPHIE: <laugh>, I'm probably the wrong person to ask cause I've been in New Baby Fog for weeks now. But the one thing I did really actually is when I did see my GP two weeks ago, and maybe because it was mental health awareness week, she did actually say to me, if I asked if could now go coball 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. They things like park cran and outdoor swimming, people realize that engaging with the outdoors is better than sleeping using pills. So I thought that was really, really interesting that I had that from my GP as opposed to just, off you go, you're fine. Yeah, that's really

FRAN: Nice. That's really to hear because you do get it occasionally with doctors are there to protect you and make you better they, so sometimes they're the potential for them to be a little bit over cautious. In my experience I've found that nurses are almost the opposite and nurses will encourage you to go and do what's best for you as a whole person. But that's definitely nice to hear that a doctor is very encouraging of you from the mental health side of things as well as the physical side of things. And to end this conversation, I'm just going to drop in a little bit of my chat with Carrie 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 on 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 on 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, 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 you are 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 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 are turning to the hills and turning to mountains, sort of recreation for respite, really escapism, mindfulness, all these different things.

But a lot of that was around mental health issues. 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 Mind Over Mountains, which is Alex Stan's company, they've obviously been going for some time now and gaining some sort of traction and then some popularity there. And I just really like what he's doing or what they're doing as a group in making it really accessible for people and getting people outside for these sessions that are free and really, really supportive and across the country and just using what he calls it, the Nat Natural Health Service, which I just really like that. 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, we did a email q and a for my OG podcast, Seize Your 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 hiking at really high altitude and gone to Everest and stuff. What did they say? What are the kind of health checks that they had to do with you and that kind of thing. Yeah, it was just really, yeah,

KERI: I, it's really inspirational and the work that the group do is excellent, and I can imagine that it's for people who join the groups. I can imagine it's extremely beneficial

FRAN: And he's so young. Well, yeah, yes, but he was so young when he started doing it, it's just like, oh my God. Yeah,

KERI: So wise. No, it's true. It's true. So lots of admiration from us on that.

FRAN: Those are the main news stories for today. But in other news,

A popular trail running event has received criticism for last minute changes that made the event unsafe. Trail pursuit event's, feature trail races, live music, yoga and wellness. Their recent Lake District event had last minute changes to some of the roots 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're 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 with 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 l g Bt Q I, women and non-binary people. And Emily Bridges is a competitive cyclist who came out as trans two years ago. All the elements online disabilities, campaigners social takes place on the 14th of June at 7:00 PM 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 panelist, Annie 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 panelists. 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 Kirsty, 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 climbing and mountaineering that wouldn't be able to access it normally. So have their applications are open at the moment till 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 course is in October, so yeah, get nominated.

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

SOPHIE: This is going to be one for any parents out there, not just mums, but there's a brilliant parent and walking baby group called Blaze Trails and I'm the Bristol organizer. And I think going back to sort of mental health just being visible and in the outdoors as a parent with a baby, if you want to get outside with your kid, go and look up the group, find a local one or become a local organizer and just meet some likeminded parents and get outside with your little ones.

FRAN: Yeah, lovely. Can you just repeat the name of that? Was it Blaze Trail? Yeah, blaze Trails. Blaze 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 on the outside newsletter. It has been a little bit quiet 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 head to on the outside and you can sign up there on the outside. Artwork is by Sophie Nolan. Music is Bass Beats by Alex NorAm. On the Outside is produced by myself. Editing and Transcript was done by Jacko Driscoll. This podcast is now part of the TREM Network Adventure and Outdoor Podcasts off the Beaten Track. If you'd like to find out more about that, head to Thank you to everyone who supports us on Patreon. You can do so slash on the outside podcast. Thank you, of course, to all of our panelists for today, Kirsty Pallas, Sophie Ruffles, and Keri Wallace. And to you all for listening.


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