As a new mom, exercise might very well be the last thing on your mind. After washing bottles or endlessly breastfeeding, trying to shower and “sleeping when the baby sleeps” (ha!) there’s little room in your day for anything else.
However, incorporating some gentle movement into your routine can be great for you and the baby. In fact, exercising after baby’s born is about so much more than “getting your body back.” Even just going for a walk can have health benefits, including fresh air for you and your little one. Exercise has be linked to lower rates of postpartum depression and can help new moms sleep better according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The organization recommends that new moms aim for 20 minute of exercise each day, starting within a few days of birth. However, if you had a cesarean delivery or experienced other complications, it may take longer to work up to that, so be sure to check with your doctor before implementing any exercise regimen.
Ready to get started? Here are our top three tips for exercising with a newborn in tow:
1. It’s okay to start slow.
Afraid of moving? Don’t let that stop you. Just give yourself permission to start slow. Walking has a whole host of health benefits from controlling weight to promoting better eating. A walk to the end of the street or around the block will give you a great opportunity to test out that snazzy new stroller. If it’s warm enough, being outside in the fresh air and sunlight is great for the baby, who needs to get enough vitamin D.
If it’s chilly, head to your local Target or the mall to get some steps in. You can enjoy a nice coffee before or after your walk and stock up on those baby supplies that are constantly running out (what does the baby do with all those pacifiers, anyway?).
2. Connect with other moms.
Being home alone with a newborn all day can be incredibly isolating. Use exercise as an excuse to connect with other moms. To get started, look up stroller fitness and mommy-and-me exercise classes near you and give them a whirl. If you prefer something a bit more adventurous, connect with your local chapter of Hike It Baby, which aims to get families moving outdoors.
3. Choose workouts that will help your body recover from childbirth.
Pregnancy and childbirth take a toll on the body, so it may be wise to seek out an exercise program designed specifically to help you address concerns many new moms have, from correcting diastasis recti (ab separation) to strengthening the pelvic floor.
There are great resources available online that host workouts you can do right at home. At Bikini Body Mommy, real-life mom Briana Christine guides you through workouts that show her body changing through pregnancies, breastfeeding, and beyond. Mama Strong provides short 15-minute workouts that you can do at home with baby, and membership is just $2 a month.
Once you’re ready, start incorporating exercise into your new mom routine, not because of pressure to fit into your pre-pregnancy pants, but because it will leave you feeling better overall!