In the first instalment of this series, I shared my four top tips to get moving as a new mum. Movement can also be a conduit to being moved, and to good mental health for new mums. BUT – and this is a big but! – sometimes the pressure to keep up your pre-baby exercise regime on top of maternal exhaustion can be a distraction that prevents us from being truly present and moved by our experience as new mums. I hope my four tips below help you to find a balance that inspires you.
BE MOVED, MAMA
-1- Pause to reflect.
In early motherhood, the hours and days can stretch beyond recognition. A fascinating recent study suggests that pregnant women live at the limit of human endurance. New mothers continue to sustain many intense physical demands, but those first few months are perhaps the biggest mental marathon you’ll ever complete. Give yourself a moment’s pause whenever you can.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath moving in and out of your belly. Balance your need to move with your need for sleep, or for social companionship, or for simply staring off in the distance. If you choose to move, make it a conscious decision to do so, and check in throughout to feel your breath and energetically commit to your body. Whether you’re sleeping, sweating or socialising, doing so with a whole and conscious commitment will reduce the drain of distraction or comparison, reserving your energy for being moved within the moment.
-2- Bond with baby through movement.
Research local mum and baby exercise classes, pair up with another active mama to arrange play/workout dates, or find a post-natal trainer who will come to you or train you and your baby in a park or studio. Remember that your baby needs YOU – they have a vested interest in you, your happiness and your wellbeing; not in you denying yourself the things you need to thrive.
Babywearing exercises in particular will keep them close to you, and comforted by sound and feel of your heartbeat, to which they danced and slept in the womb. I include a post-natal babywearing circuit in the final chapter of my book Mind, Body, Bump to get you started. We also incorporate some babywearing in my Stronger Together classes. If babywearing is particularly successful for you, check out CARiFIT for its dedicated babywearing workouts, available through live classes and online membership.
-3- You must move to be moved.
Your opportunity for life-changing experience is pretty limited when you stay home, stand still or limit your adventures. Your next walk could be the next time you meet a great new friend or discover a new café that makes the best coffee (and ain’t no one going to tell me the perfect ratio of espresso to frothy milk isn’t life-changing!). Just 20 minutes outdoors significantly increases energy levels, so if you’ve lost your mojo then it takes just a fraction of your daily steps to build positive mental (and physical) momentum.
-4- Me-time to miss your we-time.
There’s nothing as surprising or moving as how much you miss the little people you so desperately needed a break from only an hour ago. Regular you-time is the best companion to family-time. This does require saying yes to help, and I totally get what it’s like to not have much help at hand (my family is all the way in Canada and my husband works long hours), so be proactive and book in whatever you can, wherever you can. Coffee dates with friends – sans baby. A local exercise class. A walk to the shops when you’d normally drive. A seat in the park with a good book. Just try to resist sprinting home.
Next on the blog: 4 ways to MOVE FORWARD as a new mum