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How to Squeeze in Post-partum Exercise to Beat the Blues

Posted by on March 23, 2013

You’ve delivered your bundle of joy and survived nights short on sleep but you’re still not feeling like yourself. So at six weeks when the doc gives you the thumbs up to resume your exercise and…gulp…sex, you may be feeling like all of this is premature. You’re not ready. Honestly, who is? I know I wasn’t.

After my second daughter was born five months ago, my neighbors were in awe. We seemed to have adjusted well. My five year old was doing fine. And we worked out a tag team combo that allowed us to get some sleep. On the outside it seemed like all was more than well.

But…things are rarely what they seem.

February storm: our backyard

Fighting Baby Blues

It was the dead of winter in New England and I was on leave from work. The endless cold dark days trapped inside with an infant were beginning to take their toll. I needed to move, I needed to sweat.

I haven’t belonged to a gym for 15 years but I love to work out at home or outside. This year though, the combination of  heavy snow, frigid temps, and an infant made me a prisioner in my own home.

Frustrated with the repetition of uncooperative weather, I decided to use my house as a gym. I turned on the microwave timer, turned up the tunes and began running stairs. I started in my basement, baby cradled in my arms, and climbed all the way to the second floor. I took it slow at first and then sped things up. My goal was to sweat and be left breathing heavily. It worked! I can’t tell you what a difference it made to lift my spirits. And I slept more deeply!

10 quick ideas to combat the blues:

  1. Get outside, if weather permits. Sunshine, fresh air and vitamin D are all a huge boost for mental state.
  2. Steal time. Your baby may not be sleeping much, so squeeze in a workout while he or she is awake. Incorporate it into your day. Five minutes here and there can make all the difference. Try it.
  3. Keep weights and workout equipment around. Use them with this short workout.
  4. Do walking lunges while carrying your baby. My baby loved this one. When she got too heavy I switched to a medicine ball or a hand weight.

    One way to keep them entertained

  5. Bookmark some short workouts on youTube. There are millions and they’re FREE. This one is just 2 minutes but you will feel it.
  6. Get creative about entertaining your baby.   I make sure my daughter can see me, so I’m usually just 2-5 feet away. I look at her, make faces, and she usually enjoys my workout theatrics.
  7.  Walk on the treadmill, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Even if your baby is fussy, you can usually wear him/her and the movement may lull them to sleep while you burn some energy and get an adrenaline boost.
  8. Exchange a cat nap for a short workout. Most days I thought a nap was all I needed to regain my sense of self again, and then I’d be on edge when my baby didn’t sleep. Sound familiar? Push yourself to try a quick 5-10 minute workout if you’re not able to nap. It will boost your energy level and you’ll sleep better at night.
  9. Drop to the floor and stretch. Get down on the floor with your little one and do some some stretching. While you’re at it, add in some crunches, push-ups, pilates or yoga moves. Simple stretching and weight bearing movement combined with deep breathing feels wonderful when you’re tired.
  10. Do standing squats. You can do these anywhere, with or without your baby in hand. They feel incredible. Here’s a quick video to check out.

If you’re reading this and thinking these ideas are nuts, because you’re too tired or you don’t have enough time, I hear you. Believe me, I’ve been there.  The old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” certainly applies here. So go for it mama!

Workouts I Enjoy

These are from beginner to advanced and definitely worth a look. I’ve included the times and indicated the exertion level.

 

19 Responses to How to Squeeze in Post-partum Exercise to Beat the Blues

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