Being a new mom is exhausting and exhilarating, but it’s often the case that exercise takes a back seat. When the baby finally goes to sleep, it’s more often the case that moms will try to get some shut-eye too. It’s easy to overlook exercise, but studies actually show that even a few minutes of exercise a day can mean that new mothers have more energy for childcare, and feel better in themselves. And that’s not a full workout every day - just a few minutes here and there can make all the difference.
It’s important to find something you enjoy, and which meshes well with being a new mother, but doesn’t over exert you - remember you’re still a little bit fragile, even a few months postpartum. It can even be a great way to meet other new moms, to create a support network, and to even start your baby socializing with other babies. And you’ll be pleased with the results too. If you’re a new mom and want to start to include exercising into your routine, try some of these fun ideas.
Walk whenever you can
When you’re working, take sneakers and walk on your lunch break. Walk to the store with your baby in their stroller. Strap on a sling and go for a hike. Walking is an underestimated form of exercise, and because it’s low impact and low intensity, you’re not going to wear yourself out. If you want to push it even further, from the age of at least six months, you could get a jogging stroller and go for a jog. If you enjoyed running before your pregnancy, this could be a great way to get back into it, and it’s fun for baby too!
Get some gym equipment at home
You don’t have to go the whole hog and turn the guest bedroom into a fully fitted home gym, but a couple of pieces of equipment mean that you can work out while baby snoozes in their carrier next to you. A jump rope or kettlebells are small and easily tidied away, but offer great workouts. If you want to go for it completely, a rowing machine is a great addition to the home, and the best rowing machines fold and tidy away easily, meaning you don’t have anything that inquisitive little fingers can get trapped in when they get a bit older.
Use a sling
Slings are an absolute godsend. Even for everyday activities such as dusting or vacuuming, putting the baby in a sling means you can get things done without them whimpering for attention. On top of this, exercising with the baby in a sling is now becoming more and more popular. While high-intensity circuit training is not advised, low-impact activities such as yoga and pilates are great with a sling and increasingly popular with new moms. Make sure you buy a sling that is the right size for you and your baby and offers the support you need. A well fitting sling during yoga can even help to strengthen your back and shoulders, meaning it should be easier to carry baby once they’re a bit heavier too.
Join local health clubs
Check local yoga studios or health clubs for postpartum classes offered. Some may even offer childcare facilities during class. Postpartum classes are great for new moms, as they take into account potential weaknesses and don’t put too much pressure on. If you do opt for a class with a child care offering as well, ensure that they are insured for childcare, and professionally qualified - some clubs use reception staff that double as babysitters, which isn’t great if something goes wrong. This is a particularly great way to meet other moms, who can be a fundamental part of a new mother’s support network, so if you can, it’s worth getting out there.
Enroll in a stroller exercise program
Stroller exercise groups meet all over the country, and it’s a great opportunity for new moms to get outside in the fresh air, get a great workout, and meet other mothers. They offer programs for women at all points of motherhood, from prenatal all the way up to their kids starting school. Alternatively, companies like Baby Boot Camp give mothers workouts in parks, while their babies play alongside. This is perfect for socializing babies but also meaning moms get to make friends and strengthen their support network too.
Try baby dancing
Having just entered the world from a noisy womb which never stays still, it isn’t surprising that babies find it a bit weird when they’re quiet and still. Baby dancing is a great way for mom to get a workout and have some fun, while the baby is subdued by the music and the movement. There are all styles of baby dancing available, from swing to salsa to hip-hop so you can find one which suits you too. The movements tend to be slow and gentle so that you’re not in any danger of injuring yourself or your baby. Many will require the use of a sling, although some encourage moms to hold the baby in their arms. It’s even an opportunity to get Dad involved so the three of you can dance together.
Other classes for children as they get older encourage the whole family to get involved with dancing, artistic expression, and getting a good bit of exercise. Most classes are suitable for babies six to eight weeks and over, as they’re starting to be able to support their own head by that age. It’s a great way to get baby involved, while also getting fit yourself, and without having to worry about childcare.
If you’re in the fortunate position of having a close network of people around you who are willing to spend some time with your baby regularly, take the opportunity to get to the gym, get out for a walk, or just spend some time to yourself. Ask a friend to accompany you for walks, so you get the benefit of socializing and exercising, all while someone else keeps an eye on the baby for a few hours. You’ll feel a million times better for it.