Juggling parenthood with self-care can be a challenge. With a little one constantly by your side, even a quick shower can feel like an elusive luxury.
While it's easy to put your personal needs on the back burner, adding movement into your daily routine can offer incredible benefits, both physical and mental; from elevating those feel-good endorphins to easing stress, improving your posture and strengthening your body.
With the physical demands of motherhood, exercise can be a game-changer, helping you manage daily tasks with ease. Postnatal Pilates is one of the best forms of self-care for new mums, focusing on moves to help the body heal, strengthen the pelvic floor, stabilise the core and improve posture to prevent issues like lower back pain and shoulder and neck tension. It's not just about working out - it's about functional fitness that serves the unique needs of a mother's body.
So, here are some top tips on ways to (realistically) add movement into your schedule while a little one vies for your attention:
1.Rethink your workout window - it’s probably unrealistic to think you can get a 60 min workout in the bag while your toddler sleeps so manage your expectations. A workout is a workout regardless of the duration and irrespective of whether you’re in your jammies or activewear, have a full face of makeup on or haven’t showered in days.
2.Do something you enjoy – If you focus on moving in a way that brings you joy, you’re far more likely to do it regularly and make time for it. Perhaps start with a slower version of a form of exercise you enjoy; such as walks with the pram instead of running, slow stretchy yin yoga instead of vinyasa yoga while you’re sleep deprived and building up your strength slowly and gently.
3. Attend a mum and baby class – Your little one’s inquisitive mind will be captivated as they watch you move. Why wait until they’re asleep to focus on your fitness? Joining a class for postnatal mums will provide a safe and supported environment to ease back into exercise with the support of a postnatal trained expert. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with other likeminded, new mums from your area.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others - every pregnancy and birth is different, just as every body is different. Seeing someone on Instagram top to toe in matching activewear smashing through a workout with a 3 month old sitting happily just isn’t realistic for most people. Rather than comparing yourself, concentrate on what makes you feel good and what suits your body best.
6. Be gentle with yourself – it’s important to be kind to yourself and not put undue stress on yourself if you are not able to exercise as much as you’d like, or your workouts look very different to what you thought they would. As a mother your priorities shift, so it’s important to be patient and show yourself the same compassion you would a friend who’s just given birth.
7.Rest and sleep is super important. If your body’s telling you to rest, listen to it. You can’t fill from an empty cup!
Most importantly, it’s crucial to realise that your 6-week check does not mean you can jump right back into exercise full-throttle. Multiple factors need to be taken into consideration such as your level of fitness pre-pregnancy, the type of delivery you had, your physical and mental state and any pain or discomfort you may still be experiencing.
It’s a marathon not a sprint so don’t add unnecessary pressure to yourself. Instead, focus on fitness routines that promote energy, boost overall wellbeing and makes you, and your body, feel great. Ditch the scales, hide your pre-pregnancy jeans and treat your body with the kindness it deserves. You grew a human for 9 months. It’s incredible!
A friend said to me recently ‘movement feels good but being kind to yourself feels better’ and I don’t think a truer word has been said.
Gemma is the owner of Sona Studio, a boutique pilates and barre studio in the centre of Lindfield, West Sussex.
As well as group pilates and barre classes Gemma runs weekly pregnancy and postnatal (BYO Baby) pilates classes, supporting mums, and mums-to-be throughout pregnancy.
For the full studio schedule, visit www.sonastudio.co.uk