What happened to rejoicing in the miracle of giving birth and producing this gorgeous wee person you have in your arms? Why is the miracle now directed more at whether you can leave the maternity hospital in your skinny jeans?
The answer will be ricocheting round in your head, something you’ve heard but until the birth of your baby, were part of. The pressured, fast paced 21st century world we live in. The desire to keep going, to put on a brave face, career opportunities not to be missed, bills to pay, holidays to go on…Suddenly, this world came to a cataclysmic halt. You were handed one of the largest items you’ve ever taken ownership of and it didn’t come with a manual. A baby. And along with that exquisite wee person came the extra kilos, a dent in your bank balance and the aforementioned skinny jeans. Which you can no longer wear. The plans to follow the post partum routines of the rich & famous – personal trainers, tummy tucks along with c-sections, daily massage and personal chefs – were really just a dream.
Instead, for the majority of us, it’s a battle of keeping enough food and fluids on board to keep up with the demands of breastfeeding, snatching sleep when you can and organizing the ins and outs of family life. For those of us not blessed with genes which see you back in your jeans straight after we deliver (that’s most people by the way), it’s a matter of finding the right time to get back on the exercise band wagon.
Take is easy at first. You may not feel like staggering round behind the buggy in public, hair matted, eyes glazed over like someone who’s recently escaped from the psychiatric ward. Once you feel a bit of energy return, take part in some gentle exercise at home. Exercise DVDs or TV shows are a great way to begin, yoga and pilates floor routines, perhaps a stationery bike. During the first weeks your milk flow will be a little erratic until the breastfeeding routine becomes established. You’ll feel most comfortable in a nursing bra as your baby may not have settled into an established feeding pattern as yet.
Energy levels will return, routines will begin to appear. Take advantage of this and schedule some exercise time. Bundle Junior up in the pram and get strolling. Each time you’ll get a little faster and go a little further until you’ll look forward to having a good puff.
Joining exercise groups aimed specifically at pregnant women and new mothers is a great way to meet people. Don’t be too hard on yourself. When our mothers had babies, they spent two weeks in the maternity annexe, being taken care of, having their baby whisked away between four hourly feeds to establish a routine and allow them to rest up. The quick exit experienced by most women these days may have benefits (none currently spring to mind) but having a baby is a huge physical journey – your body needs to be taken care of.
If you put the pressure on yourself to stuff your post-partum body back in those skinny numbers, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Revel in the gift that is your baby and take control of your body again step by step. This is such a short time in your life – love it!