Healthy Exercise for a Healthy Mind – How exercise can help new mothers battle postnatal depression.
Written by: Monica
Published on: September 2, 2020

As a new parent, your world may seem to revolve around taking care of your baby, but exerting time for physical activity is a meaningful way to care for yourself too. Remember that by taking care of yourself, you are also taking care of your baby.

Getting your body back after having a baby is not as hard as you might think. After a normal vaginal birth, most physical activities can be started again as soon as you are comfortable. Start slowly, and then gradually build up the length of physical activity.

Research shows that starting a regular exercise program soon after giving birth is not only good for your overall health but may also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Regular healthy exercise leads to a healthier mind.

Regular exercise has numerous health benefits, all of which apply equally to the new mother as at any other stage of life. These benefits include assistance with weight loss, increased aerobic fitness, social interaction and psychological wellbeing. Exercise after giving birth can also hasten recovery and assist with muscle strength and toning.

The benefits of postnatal exercise

Exercising after you have your baby can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

It can:

  • Help restore muscle strength and firm up your body
  • Make you less tired because it raises your energy level and improves your sense of wellbeing
  • Promote weight loss
  • Improve your cardiovascular fitness and restore muscle strength
  • Condition your abdominal muscles
  • Improve your mood, relieve stress and help prevent postpartum depression.

Six Exercise for New Mothers

Here are some moves that will help you get your body ready for regular exercise.

1. Walking

It may not sound like much of a workout, but walking is one of the simplest ways to ease into a fitness routine after giving birth.

Start with a stroll. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to a pumped-up power walk. But a gentle walk can still do wonders for you and your body, especially in the beginning. Bringing baby along in a front pack will add extra weight that can increase the benefits.

For a variation, try walking backward or walking in a zigzag pattern to help keep your muscles guessing. You should not include baby in this activity until you’ve mastered it and are confident of your balance.

2. Deep Belly Breathing With Abdominal Contraction

This exercise is so easy you can do it an hour after giving birth. It helps relax muscles, and it starts the process of strengthening and toning your abs and belly.

Sit upright and breathe deeply, drawing air from the diaphragm upward. Contract and hold your abs tight while inhaling and relax while exhaling. Gradually increase the amount of time you can contract and keep your abs.

3. Head Lifts, Shoulder Lifts, and Curl-Ups

These three movements help strengthen back muscles. They also tone the tummy and abs and burn calories.

Head lifts: Lie on your back with your arms along your sides. Keeping your lower back flush to the floor, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Relax your belly as you inhale. As you exhale, slowly lift your head and neck off the floor. Inhale as you lower your head back down.

Shoulder lifts: When you can do ten head lifts with ease, try this move. Get in the same position you did for head lifts. Inhale and relax your belly. As you exhale, raise your head and your shoulders off the floor, reaching your arms and hands toward your knees. If this strains your neck, fold both hands behind your head, but don’t pull on your neck. Inhale as you lower your head and shoulders back down.

Curl-ups: When you can do ten shoulder lifts, move on to this. Start in the same position on the floor. Lift your torso until it’s about halfway between your knees and the floor behind you. Reach toward your knees and hold for 2 to 5 seconds. Then, slowly lower yourself down.

Don’t forget to breathe. Exhale when you exert. Inhale when you relax.

4. Kneeling Pelvic Tilt

This exercise helps tone your tummy. Strengthening your abs can also relieve back pain.

Start on all fours, toes touching the floor behind you, arms straight down from your shoulder line, palms touching the floor. Your back should be relaxed and straight, not curved or arched. As you inhale, pull your buttocks forward, tilting your pelvis and rotating your pubic bone upward. Hold for a count of three, and release.

5. Kegels

This classic exercise will help you tone bladder muscles and help reduce risks of incontinence associated with childbirth. The more Kegels you do, and the longer you hold them, the better control you will have over those leaks caused by sneezing, laughing, or picking up your baby.

Your goal is to contract and hold the muscles that control the flow of urine. To get which muscles they are, start by doing the exercise while you use the bathroom. As you urinate, manipulate your muscles until the stream temporarily stops. Then release and let the urine flow. Remember what that feels like, and when you’re not urinating, contract, hold and release those same muscles. Try to do this ten times per session, three times a day

Remember, every pregnancy and delivery is different, so check with your doctor before engaging in any workout program after giving birth. If you experience any heavy bleeding, excessive soreness, headaches, or other unusual symptoms during or right after exercising, stop immediately and call your doctor for advice.

Also, for more exercises and information for your body visit our website at revitalizexpp.com.au/resources/ for our ebooks for new mothers pre and post birth. Also If you want any further help or support or if you feel like you are concerned about your mental health and well-being please:

  1. Talk to your partner or someone who you trust
  2. Ask your GP or midwife for advice
  3. Use one of these support services

PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) 1300 726 306

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Pregnancy, Birth & Baby 1800 882 436

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