If you are used to a regularly structured fitness routine, you may be wondering how you are going to stay active after having a baby. Bringing your baby home is one of the most exciting and rewarding moments in your life, but we know that caring for a newborn can be demanding and exhausting. Feeding your baby around the clock, diapering, and soothing her on top of the regular daily tasks required in life can feel unrelenting. Self-care is often the last thing on your list.
During your postpartum recovery, taking even just a little bit of time to focus on your body and mind is a time investment you won’t regret. In addition to the physical benefits exercise offers, there are numerous mental health advantages too. As hard as it might seem some days, physical activity can help you recover, manage stress and stay positive.
Here are some of our tips to help you stay active now that your baby is here!
1) Take it slow.
Before starting any exercise routine be sure to talk with your care provider. Twenty to thirty minutes of movement three times a week is a great place to start after having a baby. But always listen to your body and be patient with yourself. You spent nine months growing that baby. It’s okay to rest and take it easy while you slowly increase your activity level. Eat well and allow yourself time to adjust to adding a new baby to the family.
2) Start with walking.
Taking a walk is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to move your body. Put your snuggly little baby in your new stroller and get outside even if you just go around the block. Try 20 minutes of walking the first time. As you get more comfortable make it 30 minutes. A change of scenery and being outdoors in the fresh air is good for both of you.
3) Use your workout time to bond with your baby.
When you’re ready to do more than walking, consider including your baby as part of your routine. It may be easier than you think. There are many exercises that can be modified to safely include your baby. A simple search on youtube will give you some full body workouts that you can do right in the comfort of your home while spending time with your sweet little one. Here are great examples: Full Body Workout with Baby & Babywearing workout.
As long as your baby is enjoying the activities, all is well. Follow your baby’s cues and when needed, pause and try again later.
4) Join a Stroller Fitness group.
Did you know that there are outdoor new-mom exercise groups that you can join here locally? Bring your baby, stroller and water bottle and you will have everything you need! This is a great option for those who want the accountability and structure of having a professional trainer lead you through your workout in person, at a set time and location. And, there is the added bonus of meeting and having social time with other like-minded new moms.
5) Household chores count as a workout!
You are exercising everyday and you don’t even realize it. Carrying your 8-20 lb baby as you walk through the house requires strength. Running after children, laundry, dishes and picking up toys all necessitates you move your body. Change your mindset about these tasks and recategorize them as part of your physical activity for the day. Get a fitbit or use your apple watch to track your movements and give yourself credit for how much you are already doing all day long.
The more you and your baby enjoy doing these activities together, the more likely you will continue them long term. As you grow into this new life together, there will be plenty of opportunities to ramp up your activity level. Right now, give yourself grace and practice self compassion. Just like your child, you need to take baby steps before you can launch into high-powered lunges. Try to have fun and be proud of the healthy habits you are creating.