The Art of Self-Care: Move Your Body - Walking
If you’re reading this, I don’t have to tell you that having kids is hard!! It’s hard on your body, it’s hard on your mind, and it’s hard on your relationships (the one with yourself included!).
That last part is what I want to talk to you about here in this post. About not forgetting to take care of yourself! It can be overwhelming trying to think about and consider all of the new responsibilities that a newborn requires - even when you’ve already had one, two, or five kids. Not to mention, your body is doing some serious hormone balancing that would make a long-haul trucker cry.
I’ve had a few babies and one of the big things that helped me deal with the changes, hormone swings, and lack of sleep is walking. If you had a relatively uneventful pregnancy and delivery (relatively speaking of course!), you can start sooner than later. Note: Make sure to get the OK from your healthcare provider to walk and make sure to take it slow! You just had a baby for crying out loud. Your muscles and your bones can tell.
The proverbial “they” equate childbirth to a marathon, so you deserve a little recovery time. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace (usually good life advice in general). Personally, I always felt best after pregnancy when I was moving my body. Must have been all those good endorphins from increasing my heart rate with the exercise.
Here are 6 tips for getting back into walking after having a baby (and after getting your provider approval):
Start slow - you just had a baby, remember? Start with short bursts around the house or out to the mail box. Pay attention to how your body is feeling. Are your joints or muscles achy? Do they feel wobbly? Your body releases a hormone called relaxin in pregnancy and makes joints and muscles more loose to aid in carrying and delivering a baby. So if you feel unstable, wait to do long walks. An injury is not worth it!
If your body is feeling good and the weather permits, start taking your walk outside and walk up and down the sidewalk for 5-10 minutes at a time. Think of squeezing a light walk in when you are done with a meal or even to get baby to nap if they struggle. My first baby struggled to sleep and stroller walks were a life saver for both of us.
When you are feeling strong and if time allows increase walking to 30-60 min per day. This can be broken up and spread throughout the day if needed.
When you increase your heart rate by walking you increase endorphins which makes you feel good and can decrease your risk of depression.
If you have someone to watch baby, it can be a good way to take a break. Reflect on how you’re coping with all the changes. Allow yourself to enjoy the scenery. It’s OK to take a moment for yourself if your baby is in good hands!
Big changes happen after having a baby. Your body is different, hormones are all over the place, the little one is very needy of your attention. Finding moments for yourself is important and can help decrease stress, depression, and anxiety.
Take care of yourself so that you can care for your baby. Walking is an easy way to increase activity when you are ready to get up and move your body.
One last thing.. Don’t forget that you are not alone! Different people and families have different levels of support. But in this digital age, you will always have a community (a ferocious pack!) of mamas and caring individuals that will forever have your back and lift you up when you feel down. When you get to that point (and your hormones guarantee that you will), make sure that you reach out for some help, even if it’s only to hear the comforting words, “That’s normal, and you’re not alone.”