“I am a happier, more productive person, a better wife and mother when I am fit and healthy.”

Becoming a mum is a very special and rewarding experience but meeting the demands of a newborn baby can be all consuming and leave new mums with little time to focus on their own health and wellbeing. How often have you said “I am too tired, I just don’t have the time, and it’s too hard with the baby”? Believe me, I understand because I have said it too. Whilst trying to navigate motherhood ; trying to settle baby, late night feeds, nappy changes, bath time, tummy time, sterilising, washing clothes (and we haven’t even tried to leave the house yet!) exercise is the last thing on your mind but it is essential to your physical and emotional health. You deserve to spend part of your busy day looking after yourself and it is easier to do than you think.

Exercise plays an important role in your physical recovery after pregnancy and birth. Yes it will help shift the baby weight, but it is beneficial for more than just lowering the numbers on your scales. It helps to restore muscle tone and strength to joints that have been weakened during pregnancy in order to prevent further weakness or strain. It will help you to condition your lower back and abdominal muscles so that your body can cope with the extra pressure of lifting and carrying your baby. It is amazing how quickly that little bundle of joy starts to feel more like a 10 kilo weight plate! Besides muscle strength, exercise will help to restore your balance and improve your posture so you can avoid neck, shoulder and back strain commonly associated with breastfeeding. Exercise will also promote the healing of the uterine and good old pelvic floor muscles. Yes I am going to tell you to keep doing those pelvic floor exercises!

Regular exercise is also really important for your mental health. It helps minimise and prevent the symptoms of post natal depression. Looking after a new baby can be an emotional roller coaster but you will be amazed how a little exercise can really lift your spirits and improve your mood. Being active is a great emotional outlet and helps to relieve tension, reduce anxiety and stress and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Exercise can increase your energy levels, improve your quality of sleep and assist with hormonal imbalances. Who doesn’t want more energy and better sleep! It also motivates you to get out of the house, to meet and socialise with other mums. There is something special about the support network and friendships you find in other mums. Getting fit and healthy will give you a more positive outlook, improve your confidence and put a spring back in your step so you can cope with the demands of your new baby. It is important to find ways to help stay calm and relaxed so you can take the time to just sit back enjoy all of those special “first” moments that come and go so quickly

Staying active doesn’t have to be time consuming or cost a lot of money. I am not talking about joining a gym or entering a triathlon here. Just low impact ways to ease back into exercise with the focus on wellbeing rather than aerobic fitness and weight loss (although these are an added bonus!). Grab your pram or baby carrier and get walking! Even just around the block or local shopping centre- the fresh air will do wonders. Go swimming, do some bike riding, buy a cheap yoga or low impact aerobics dvd and try it at home – no one will see if you are still in your pyjamas or the latest Lorna Jane gear. And pelvic floor exercises; keep doing them. Sitting, standing, driving, you can do them anywhere! Avoid high impact activity like running, jumping, twisting turning and vigorous stretching. As your fitness levels return you can gradually increase the type, duration and intensity of your exercise. Just remember that everyone’s recovery time is different so be sure to consult with your doctor before resuming any exercise.

So while you are busy being a wonderful mother, please remember that it is important to find some time to look after your own health and wellbeing. You deserve it and your family will benefit from it too. A happy, healthy mummy means a happy, healthy family. But of course be patient and listen to your body. Do not feel pressured to do anything more than rest and bond with your baby until you are ready.

Kate x

(As featured in Kidz on the Coast magazine)