Having a baby is an opportunity for you to grow in so many ways, and your new baby is such a great motivation too! Using your maternity leave to set healthy habits for yourself and for your family is a great idea! Use this new chapter in life to turn over a new leaf; if you didn’t have the healthiest lifestyle before- now is the chance to change. If you did have a healthy lifestyle before baby- use this time to explore how to adapt in order to maintain your health to include your newest family member.
Do your research
First of all, you need to make sure that you are ready! Check with your GP if you are unsure before you begin a new physical activity or return to an old one. You may take longer than you expected or longer than your friends, relatives or other people you know, but you must take your time! Your body is remarkable and has just been through the biggest change of your life, be gentle and allow it to repair at a healthy rate. Your body will tell you; just listen. Research by looking online for gentle exercises that concentrate on your core. Pilates is excellent for this as it focuses on your deep core muscles. Research by experimenting with your own body to see what it is ready for! But, remember to take it gently and to find your own timetable- don’t judge your progress by other people’s standards. Your body has changed, you can help yourself by seeing your progress as moving forwards rather than a return to your pre body baby. You are a Mama now- embrace, explore and discover how you can exercise in your evolved body and new chapter of life.
Find a Healthy Balance
Don’t over do it, and I mean both mentally and physically! It is easy to do too much, especially in the early days. Set yourself realistic goals in small steps and try to find exercise through daily activities. Walking is fantastic for this! It has so many benefits! Getting out in the great outdoors, outdoor napping for baby, leaving the house for you and for your baby to take in sights, sounds and smells of different places- the list is almost endless! Link your walk to running errands, meeting friends for a cuppa or just to give yourself some time in a beautiful place of natural beauty- it nourishes the soul!
If you are breastfeeding, try and find small snatches of time to do more focused exercises- ten minutes of Yoga or Pilates in the morning is a great way to tick your mental box of physical exercise, along with a good stretch of your muscles to start the day taking care of baby. Don’t forget to take into account the physical demands that parenting a baby have too! Lifting, bending, carrying are all putting a new pressure on your body so it is important to include this as you balance out the physical activity of your day.
You may find that the first months do not allow for this, but as soon as baby is happy for you to leave for an hour or two; take the opportunity to get back ‘in the saddle’! Don’t let your hobbies slip away from you; your hobbies and passions are what make you, you. Returning to them as soon as you are able will give you immense mental health benefits, as well as fitness if they are active hobbies. Maybe this is a chance for you to try a new hobby? Ask your new Mama friends if they do any activities and check out what’s available in your local area- be bold and go and try out something new!
There is a well documented link between exercise and wellness, so it is a key element which needs to provide the foundation for the growth of a Mama. Seeking that rush of oxytocin is a daily requirement for all of us, to maintain our physical health is to maintain our mental wellness. You need to find a way to be you, a new you in your new body, a you that now includes this wonderful relationship with your baby. You have a new lifestyle as a Mama, but with some careful planning, selfcare and reflection, you can create healthy habits that will role model wellness for your whole family as you all grow together.
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