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January 2022 Issue
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Making the most of maternity leave

After having Sky, Cara took things slowly by doing short day trips to huts.

Last year, I was able to take 12 months maternity leave from work. What a dream. There was just one small catch: I had to use the time to raise a little human.

My pregnancy was spent heading for the hills as often as possible, with the firm belief that my tramping career was about to hit a long hiatus when our wee girl arrived. I need not have worried. We took it in baby steps. Slow day walks to Rod Donald Hut at four weeks old, Packhorse Hut at six weeks, Avoca Hut at nine weeks. By three months, we felt confident enough to do our first overnighter, to Lyell Saddle Hut on the Old Ghost Road.

After that, Skye and I started venturing out on midweek jaunts by ourselves. Popular huts which are booked out on weekends, sometimes months in advance, are often empty midweek.

Maternity leave gave us the luxury of time, and we’ve headed away on mum and daughter missions to many parts of the country, visiting family-friendly huts along the way.

With unlimited time we can also chase the sunshine. It’s no skin off my nose if we delay a tramp by a few days until the weather is favourable. A dry baby is a happy baby.

Our little girl just had her first birthday and she’s got 33 huts under her belt. Far from being the demise of my life in the hills, becoming a mum has lit a fire in me to explore – and to show our little lady our amazing backyard.

Top tips for new mums

  • See a women’s health physio as part of your recovery and journey back to exercise. Your pelvic floor will thank you for it.
  • There are many huts 1-3hr walk from the road end. These are often achievable as a day walk. Having somewhere dry and warm (and away from sandflies) to breastfeed, change nappies and let baby crawl around makes the walk worthwhile.
  • A PLB is essential. We use a Garmin inReach, and I turn on the waypoint tracker so that Dad can follow our progress from home.
  • Social media has lots of places and people from whom to obtain advice. There are Facebook groups and Instagram accounts that give advice on where to start.