Walking when pregnant and as a new mum

By Zahrah Mahmood, president of Ramblers Scotland, and mum to 1 year old Harris

I’m known as The Hillwalking Hijabi and I love spending time hiking up hills and mountains.  I really hoped this would continue when I was pregnant.  I had visions of being ethereal and glowing, with this lovely bump, not even breaking a sweat. But that wasn’t me! I had extreme sickness, throwing up several times a day, so it was difficult to get outdoors. I did a few gentle hill walks but nothing taxing.  

Then I had a difficult labour, an emergency C-section, and a lot of complications afterwards. Hillwalking had been my way of getting away from the daily stresses of my life so when I started to recover, I felt I should get outdoors, but it was like starting all over again.  That took a toll on my mental health.  

Part of the problem was me not listening to my body and taking it easy. I thought everything would go back to normal after giving birth and my body would be like it was before.  But that wasn’t the case. I've had to adjust my expectations and relearn the joy of the outdoors.   

It’s difficult to be out all day with a young child.  Firstly, there’s everything you must pack.  You also need to follow their schedules.  And finally, you must consider what you can do physically with a baby in a carrier. So these days we’re walking smaller hills, and shorter walks.  My son Harris loves being outdoors and I’m relearning the joy of being out in nature through his eyes.  


My 3 tips for new mums 

Based on my experiences I’d encourage other new mums to get out for a walk and enjoy all the health and wellbeing benefits of gentle exercise outdoors.  My 3 top tips are: 


1. Listen to your body

As much as it's amazing to get outdoors, don't try to do too much too soon, especially if you’ve had a difficult labour or birth. You can start by just going around your block or to local parks to build up your fitness again.  

2. Build up your confidence 

Gradually go out further afield and work out what you need to pack, and, importantly, what you don’t need. Pack light, keep calm and have faith in yourself and your baby. It’s not the end of the world if you forget a muslin or run out of wipes. You can always have a reserve bag in the car or pop into a shop.  

3. Don’t panic if your baby starts to cry

It can feel horrible being in an unfamiliar situation with people staring at you. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you know your baby and can respond to their needs.  

zahrah mahmood with her new born baby on dusklit hilltop

Advice from the NHS 

The NHS recommends keeping fit during pregnancy and advises 30 minutes of walking each day.  Once baby is born the NHS advises that regular activity can relax you, keep you fit and help you recover.  Doing some gentle exercise can help to boost your mood. 

Women wearing a baby carrier on a group walk. Man showing baby his binoculars.

Walking and pregnancy

Walking during pregnancy helps reduce morning sickness, constipation, cramps, and more. Find out how to enjoy walking safely during your pregnancy and beyond.

Adventure documentary filmmaker Frit Tam walks through trees near Box Hill

A family-friendly walk at Box Hill in Surrey

Frit Tam enjoys the stunning views of the North Downs on a family-friendly circular walk at Box Hill.

 Fallow Deer Stag preparing to graze on a warm, sunny morning in Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo

9 great wildlife walks for the whole family

Spot iconic British creatures great and small on these wonderful child-friendly strolls through beautiful scenery.