Dr. Tamar Gottfried expects a bit of a baby boom in 2021. While the Mesa-based OB-GYN (obgynmesa.com) has seen a decrease in routine screenings and consultations due to the coronavirus pandemic, she has also witnessed an uptick in new pregnancies.
Whether that’s a byproduct of quarantine is a subject for historians, but even in these virus-cloistered times, expectant moms need exercise and fresh air. Gottfried, who leads hikes for the Arizona Trailblazers hiking club (azhikers.org), a local band of trekkers that’s been active for nearly 25 years, believes hiking is a perfect way for pregnant women to optimize their health.
“I firmly believe that women who exercise consistently during pregnancy are better prepared physically and often mentally for the pushing phase of labor,” Gottfried says, adding that expectant moms should be mindful of changes in weight and balance when they exercise, and should drink a lot of water and liberally apply sunscreen, as skin can be more sensitive in pregnancy. “And I’m always a fan of using hiking poles to improve stability and prevent falls.”
Having delivered around 4,500 babies during her 20-plus years in practice, Gottfried doesn’t think there’s any one-size-fits-all time for preggos to hang up their hiking boots or buy into a certain myth. “Contrary to popular opinion, walking or hiking doesn’t hasten the onset of labor, but it sure is a nice distraction and helps get a woman in shape for the work of labor,” she says. “I caution women who are in the last few months of pregnancy not to go too far away from the hospital in case things happen early or quickly – I wouldn’t want a heavily pregnant mom-to-be on a remote trail, hours away from civilization and rescue, and go into labor.
“And no one really wants to give birth on the trail… too many rocks and prickly things on the ground.”
For pregnant women – and just about anybody – Gottfried recommends the trails of Usery Mountain Regional Park, especially the Pass Mountain Trail.
Usery Mountain Regional Park