You’ve just had a baby. Your time revolves around feeding, changing diapers, washing clothes, a long list of other household chores and squeezing in sleep. Exercise is probably not on your list of things to do, but it should be!
Here are five reasons why:
1. To Release Those Happy Hormones
Having a baby is almost certain to be one of the happiest moments in your life, but there are times, in fact countless times, that it can get a little bit overwhelming. Instead of reaching for that bottle of wine, choose to break out a sweat instead. During exercise, our body releases happy hormones, technically some are neurotransmitters but we don’t need to get too scientific if it feels good.
Endorphins help to block pain, so although they don’t exactly make us feel good, they make us feel less bad. To release endorphins you need to engage in vigorous exercise, which may be a little hard in the first few months, so the good news is eating something spicy will have a similar effect.
Serotonin helps to boost our mood and makes us agreeable and more sociable, something we mothers need at the best of times! You’ll be happy to know that this is released through low intensity exercise and it lingers after the exercise session has finished. All you need is 20-30 minutes and YouTube. There are so many exercise videos you can follow in the comfort of your own home.
Going for walks is also great exercise, and you get an extra dose of serotonin as sunlight produces vitamin D, needed for its production. The great news is that just thinking happy thoughts also releases serotonin! So, at 4am when your baby is wide awake and you’re on your last thread of reason, just think about when you first held your baby in your arms… ahhhhh.
Dopamine is a pleasure hormone and is stimulated when we strive for a goal. This is easy to do with exercise, such as a set distance when you go walking or running, duration of your exercise session or the number of repetitions.
2. To Prevent Those Future “Ooops” Moments!
During pregnancy and childbirth our body goes through immense changes. One area that is weakened is our pelvic floor, due to the weight of the baby bearing down on these muscles for a prolonged time. These muscles are needed to assist in urinary and fecal continence, aid in sexual performance (orgasm) and stabilise the connecting joints.
To help strengthen the pelvic floor, you can do kegels. Remember your doctor (and friends) always reminding you to do these? Well there’s a good reason for that. Now, don’t worry if you weren’t so diligent with these during pregnancy, you still have time to strengthen them. Kegels is one exercise you can do right after delivery. Although this is the last thing on your mind, trust me, it’s worth it. (Otherwise skipping and star jumps may never be the same again!)
3. To Get to the Core
I’m not talking about having six pack abs here, although kudos to the mums who achieve this after having kids. For the majority of mums, what I’m talking about is strengthening the abdominal muscles along with the back, trapezius and even our glutes. You may have experienced backaches during pregnancy. Don’t think the problem is over once you’ve given birth. What you were carrying in your belly is now in your arms and will only get heavier. To add to this, some of you may experience a lot more weight in your boobs as they fill up with milk. Gaining strength in your core will improve your posture, get you upright and diminish or prevent aches and pains.
4. To Prepare Yourself for the Marathon of Motherhood
As a mum of two, let me tell you that the first few months are easy, or at least easier, even though at that moment it doesn’t feel like it. Yes, we are severely sleep deprived, but this is the time your baby sleeps the most and you can make use of the time. So take my advice and get fit now because have you seen the amount of energy kids have by the time they are three? You want to have the physical and mental stamina to keep up with their boundless amounts of energy.
5. For Well Deserved Time Out
Don’t think to be a good mum you can never leave your child and that taking time for yourself is a guilty pleasure. Taking time out does a lot for your sanity. Day in day out with just you and baby can get stressful. The best thing to do is do something for you. So although a massage or getting your hair and nails done might be tempting, think about all the benefits exercise can do for you and schedule that in as part of your time out.