Being the mother of a newborn is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Once you get past the first six weeks and are cleared to exercise by your doctor, you may start getting the itch to begin showing your body love through movement again. Here are some ways that I've been integrating gentle, loving movement into my routine as a new mom, in honor of National Women's Health Week.
Tummy Time is for Mommies Too!
There's so much emphasis on baby's physical development as an infant. One of the things moms are urged to do is have their baby spend time on her tummy each day, to encourage physical development of the neck, back, and shoulder muscles.
But tummy time isn't just for babies! It's recommended that you join your little one on the floor during tummy time anyhow. So why not make this mommy's tummy time as well? Do a few gentle ab exercises, like these which encourage the healing of diastasis recti, or just stretch and get a feel for being in your body again. I love to use a foam roller or rubber ball to roll out any muscle aches during tummy time.
As long as you're not so engrossed in your exercise that you're not keeping an eye on your little one, it's fine for mommy's to take advantage of tummy time for their own self-care as well!
One of the first (and only, for awhile) ways that I began showing my body love through movement after birth was getting out for a stroller walk with the baby each day. It was around the six week mark that I could do this without aggravating my pelvic area (I had an episiotomy at birth, and it took about six full weeks for those stitches to heal).
I began with 10 minute walks, and gradually built up to being able to walk for an hour or more. I discovered that my baby is a great sleeper in the car seat. So by strapping her in there for 45 minutes - 1.5 hours, I am ensuring she gets a really quality nap, as well as giving myself an opportunity for a little exercise.
Bring your diaper bag, a bottle with some expressed breast milk or formula, and plenty of water for yourself so that you're prepared for any issues that might arise while you're out of the house!
Ditch "Date Night" for Fitness Dates
As parents of a newborn, you and your partner may not be getting many opportunities for date night! When you do decide to leave the baby with a trusted care giver for a little one-on-one time, why not opt for a fitness date?
My husband and I are usually so tired in the evening, we don't find that the traditional dinner date is the best experience. Plus, it's expensive and not super comfortable when you get dressed up, go sit in a restaurant, and pay for a meal. We've found we get better quality time when we go for a hike, go paddle boarding, or take a fitness class together.
You don't have to be constrained by the traditional definition of "date night" when making time with your significant other. If what you'd really like to do when you get a sitter is take the opportunity to get moving with your S.O., do that instead!
Self Care is More than Just Physical
National Women's Health Week is a great reminder to show your body love through movement. But it's not just about exercise!
It's important to also go for a well-woman visit (checkup) and preventive screenings, eat healthy, pay attention to your mental health--including getting enough sleep and managing stress--as well as to avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.