Now you are holding your little one and are getting better acquainted everyday. Perhaps you are more happy, exhausted, overwhelmed, or discouraged than you expected. Lack of sleep, and being at the beck and call of this precious baby of yours is taxing in ways you couldn't fully expect. Now you are here, and motherhood is as real as it gets.
Do you feel your identity slipping away? Do you feel like you are just an extension of your baby? If you are breastfeeding, are you feeling like a milk cow? I struggled with feelings like this, and many more. Just know that you are not alone. If you are feeling down, suffering from depression, having anxiety or fear that you will never feel like you again: Taking some time to care for yourself through exercise is likely just the thing to give you a boost.
Physical activity provides great, and natural mental benefits to everyone, but new mamas can be especially benefited. Exercise has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms and provide a boost to your self confidence. Taking some time to work on yourself is key!
Physically, the benefits of exercise for new mamas are the same as the general population. Increased stamina is a great benefit for all, but if there is anyone on the planet who could use increased stamina to get through the day, it is a new mama. Improved posture is a very important benefit that mamas can take advantage of. If you take the time to exercise, you will improve muscle strength and endurance. Hefting your beautiful baby around with all of the stuff he or she requires will be done without being permanently kinked to one side, or feeling worn out. Diaper bag over one shoulder, purse over the other, and a not-so-light-anymore baby carrier in hand? I know all about that.
Fat loss is another great benefit most women are seeking after they have a baby. Dietary changes are VERY important as well, but long-term adoption of regular exercise is a major factor in successful, and lasting fat loss. Notice, I didn't say weight loss. The scale is just a limited measuring tool of how fat loss is progressing. Try to avoid stepping on the scale anymore than once a week, as water weight can fluctuate a great deal from day to day. Anymore than that, you may get discouraged and give up your efforts. Goals like exercising a certain number of days a week, or getting in 5 fruits and veggies in a day can be better initial goals than trying to lose a certain number of pounds in a certain time period. Remember, you gained weight over a nine month period, so be patient as you work to lose accumulated fat stores and increase muscle.
Lastly, an enormous benefit to exercising is the example it sets for your child. We must be willing to recognize our example of an active, or sedentary lifestyle is the single most powerful thing we do to impact our children and their future health. If you are not reason enough to take care of yourself (which you are), then do it for your child. A healthy and happy mama results in a healthier, happier baby.