Giving birth to a child is a most incredible journey for a woman. The experience is filled with the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows, from first meeting your new baby to the sleepless nights and constant feedings.
In my time of being a trainer and teacher, what I see most with mothers is that when they are stuck at home and not able to continue the things they used to do and love, they becomes depressed. Many of these moms struggle with a feeling of lost identity. I am not a doctor or therapist, but in all my time of teaching I have observed a direct correlation between this sense of lost identity and postpartum depression.
Being a mother is one of the most honorable and important roles in the world. But motherhood is not the only thing that defines a woman. Women are also best friends, athletes, musicians, wives, sisters, business-people, and more. As a mother, making a few hours to catch up with friends, continue the work you love, train in your sport, or go outside for walks is vital for your overall health, ability as a parent, and sense of identity.
If you are a new mom, here are some strategies you can implement to get some “me” time and reconnect with what you love to do.
Strategy #1: A Shift in Attitude
Most women’s default setting is to nurture and take care of others. This is a wonderful attribute, but it often means women put their own needs last. Mothers who leave their newborn babies so they can catch up with friends or do a yoga class often experience strong feelings of guilt.
But for the mental health of every new mother and your long-term ability to successfully raise your children, this timeout is exactly what is needed. It is okay to put yourself first. If you are a new mother, your ability to be the best parent you can be is directly dependent on your state of mind, your sense of happiness, and whether your needs are looked after.
Strategy #2: Get Support
Not all the responsibilities of a newborn baby should be passed to the mother. In this day and age, the duties within the house and of raising a baby should largely be shared. If you are feeling overwhelmed, speak up and delegate. Grandparents, friends, other relatives, and husbands should all be pitching in to help so you can get your timeout. If you don’t have these people in your life, then look online for groups of local moms and create a support network for yourself.
Strategy #3: Bring the Baby
Society has separated things so there is the outside world, which is a baby no-go zone, and the inside world, which is at home where mothers and babies stay. This is a social norm that needs to change. Having babies is an important part of the cycle of life. Society would be better off to integrate motherhood into daily activities, whether it be in social settings or the workplace.
I truly hope there is a day when women can comfortably bring their babies to work. Imagine being served your coffee from a lady at a restaurant who has her beautiful little baby strapped to her back? It is just a matter of changing the culture and acceptance, and it starts with the choices made by you as a new mother. If a family member is not able mind your baby, don’t miss out on life by staying at home – take your little one along!
Strategy #4: Take Time for Exercise
Part of your timeout periods should be dedicated to working out. Exercise has myriad benefits for new mothers. For those who are worried that training will lower milk production, there is no evidence that even intense exercise affects production for breastfeeding moms. In fact, I personally experienced that the increased circulation from exercise may increase milk production. While preparing for a Brazilian jiu jitsu world championship, I trained every day and produced so much milk I needed to pump one side while I fed my babies on the other.
Here are some great reasons why you as a new mom should add a workout into your schedule:
- Exercise assists in losing weight gained from pregnancy.
- Exercise helps grow lean muscle tissue, which firms up your body and boosts your metabolism.
- Exercise strengthens the hips and core, which become stretched and weakened during pregnancy and birth.
- Exercise also assists in mental health with the release of endorphins – the “feel good” hormones. The confidence gained from looking and feeling fit, strong, and healthy also contributes to a positive state of mind.
There are many ways new mothers can work out. Often it comes down to being inventive and organized. Home workouts are a great option since the baby can chill out nearby on the bouncing chair while you get your groove on. That said, getting out of the house and, in particular, spending time outdoors is important.
For brand-new mothers, a brisk walk outside with a stroller or baby carrier is probably the best thing you can do. Walking will help tighten the hips back up, and walking at a fast pace is a good starter for regaining cardiovascular fitness. Additionally, getting outside and being exposed to natural sunlight ensures you get your daily dose of vitamin D. There has been evidence suggesting that breastfeeding moms can become deficient in vitamin D, and if your levels are low, then your milk is going to be low in vitamin D, too. A minimum of half an hour per day of sunlight will help elevate your vitamin D levels.
A New Mother Is Not Just a Mother
Women are powerful, intricate, multi-faceted beings capable of so many things. But being a mother, as honorable as it is, is only one part of being a woman. As a mother, you must pursue your passions to keep the balance in your life and continue the momentum of this positive shift in the world of empowered woman raising empowered daughters.