Pregnancy should be an exciting time. Following birth, your new bundle snuggling in your arms, you may turn attention to losing ‘the baby weight’. In some societies, there is a pressure and an expectation on mum to simply snap back into shape, shedding the ‘wobbly tummy’ and thighs. And for many women, when this doesn’t happen quickly, they place pressure on themselves to regain their pre-pregnancy shape.
But here’s the thing – your body has undergone a terrific transformation. It has grown a tiny spec of a fertilised egg into a small human being. You have laboured and given birth, all magically done by a combination of hormones kicking it at the right time.
And then there are the new emotions of being a mum that can be hard to handle. And there are other hang ups too – you may still be suffering from a light bleed or maybe struggle to hold your bladder.
All of these combine to make you feel less than brilliant and making the thought of attending a Zumba class or take up running again a distant dream.
What follows are some great ideas to help your mind, body and soul heal after all these changes and help you shift excess weight, if that is what you want to do.
When should I start exercising?
Every woman’s experience of labour and birth is different. Some women require a lot of medical intervention and help, whereas other women don’t. each of your labours and pregnancy will be different too and thus, the healing time after birth will vary too.
When it comes to physical activity you need to give yourself chance to heal but also understand that light exercise can help the healing process.
Before you start exercising, ask your midwife or doctor for their advice.
Do what feels right, when it feels right
You have a tiny bundle to take care of and this means learning all kinds of new skills, from understanding their different cries, to breastfeeding to sterilising bottles, changing nappies and generally organising yourself and your baby.
This takes time and practice. And this means best–laid plans can go awry. Walking with your new-born is a great way for you to bond, as well as to get some exercise and fresh air. But rather than setting a schedule, in the early days go for a walk when you can.
Once you have a daily routine on the go, you may find the following tips helpful:
- Vary the terrain – as well a stroll along a flat road or around a park, vary the terrain o include hills.
- Vary the speed – start off by walking slowly and then pick up the pace for a minute or two, and then slow it down again.
- Vary the distance – short energetic walks are just as good as longer walks but there are certain benefits to varying the length of walks you take too.
Make it YOU time
Having a new baby is a busy time and with all this in mind, it can be hard to find ‘you time’. All of a sudden, life has transformed overnight and doing simple tasks have now been transformed into something akin to a military operation.
The need for ‘you time’ is important because looking after you means you are strong and healthy, and in great physical fitness to look after your new bundle of joy.
Exercise is one way of getting ‘you time’. When you are happy to leave your bundle for an hour or two, why not take advantage of all those offers of help and go back to your exercise class, yoga group or enjoy an hour at the gym?
Accept and love your ‘new’ shape
We see pictures of female celebrities looking slim and stunningly made up a week or so after they have given birth. For some women, this means pressure and an expectation too that everything will snap back into shape, just like it was before baby came along.
There are times when this is not the case. So why not embrace this new you? Similar to other times in life, aid your healing with gentle exercise and rely on nature to provide you with everything you need. And that means eating well, keeping an eye on processed food intake, sugar and fats, opting for lean meats and fish instead (or beans, nuts and pulses if following a vegan diet).
Most importantly enjoy your new role, stay active and eat well!
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