Becoming a new mother is one of the most important and challenging periods of transition for any woman, and it can make your own health less of a priority. There are so many reasons why it’s important for mums to prioritise their own health, but without the right resources and motivation, staying healthy (or getting back in shape) can start to seem like an impossible idea. These tips will help you embrace the idea of looking after yourself in simple ways.
A new baby is a tempting reason to stay inside the house, but something as simple as being outside can make a huge difference to your mental and physical health. You and your baby can have a great day with a limited adventure checklist; all you really need is a stroller with a shade cloth, sunscreen, snacks for you, and a handy feeding cover. This way, you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise, and maybe even strike up a few conversations – it’s more important than you might think.
Invest in quality activewear
If you’re looking for a good excuse to buy a great outfit, here it is: your average activewear brand may not cater to new mothers’ need for extra comfort and support. Fortunately, some companies have zeroed in on this unmet need and started designing activewear to fill it. Maternity, nursing, and postpartum activewear is a growing market, and a great investment in your health during the first few years of your life as a mum. Now there’s one less excuse for skipping that morning walk!
Try a range of new exercises
Your pre-pregnancy body may have been fine with tough, high-impact exercises (and there’s no reason why you can’t get back to that point!) but when you’re in recovery mode, gentle, low-impact exercises are the way to go. Things like yoga and pilates make great alternatives to more strenuous cardio and strength exercises, and they’ll still help you burn off the baby weight. Once your doctor has given you the all clear, you’ll be able to return to your usual regime, but for now, try to enjoy taking things slowly and giving yourself a break.
After months of pregnancy cravings, you’ll probably be relieved to have more control over your brain’s reaction to food, but this isn’t the time to rush straight into a string of cheat days. Remember that the food you put into your body will have a significant impact on the nutrition you’re able to give your baby, so aim to stick to a healthy diet as much as possible. You’ll also need to eat a lot more than you normally would so that your body can produce enough nutrients for two. For example, the standard food guidelines for new mums include 7.5 serves of vegetables and 9 serves of grains per day – that might sound like a lot, but you’ll need all the energy you can get!
It might be easier said than done, but getting enough sleep is hugely important. Your sleep cycle might be quite different to how it was before pregnancy and birth, especially if your new addition struggles to sleep through the night, so when you see a window for extra sleep, take it! Many new mums recommend sleeping whenever your baby is asleep, and although it might take a while to adapt to this pattern, you’ll appreciate the extra hours of shut-eye.
Looking after your own health might not be the first thing on your mind when you’re adjusting to new motherhood, but it should be – right after making sure the baby is alive and well, of course! Remember, your future self (and your kids) will be grateful that you took care of yourself.