A couple of weeks ago, just one week after giving birth to my son, I went out for a short walk around the neighborhood. Still recovering from the delivery, I was mindful of my body and made sure I was careful not to do too much too soon.
While on this walk, I came in contact with quite a few people, all of them asking the same question: “You're out already?” As I neared the end of my walk, another person asked, “Are you that worried about losing the baby weight?” She then went on to tell me how I was perhaps a little too worried about the way my body looked.
I was a little taken aback. Did people really think I was out so early just so that I could fit back into my skinny jeans?
Although getting back into shape and fitting into my regular clothing is a great benefit of exercise, it's not the primary reason I was out walking, or why I am now back running.
What other reason could there possibly be, you might be asking?
Well, as many women can attest to, having a new baby is hard work. And as absolutely wonderful as your bundle of joy is, he is also very physically demanding and emotionally draining. Whether it's baby blues, postpartum depression or just plain being overwhelmed, it is something that not many moms avoid entirely.
As a mother of six kids, I know this feeling all too well. And with each child, one thing has helped me combat these symptoms, and that is exercise.
How has exercise helped me?
First off, it allows for time by myself to think and reflect. Each day, even if it is for 30 minutes, I make sure that I give myself that time to get out alone and get some exercise in. I will feed the baby right before and leave him with my husband. And for that amount of time, I am free to exercise, which also doubles as a time to clear my mind. The baby may cry while I am away, but I know he is in good hands and will be fine until I return. And when I do, I am ready to face the rest of the day happy and rejuvenated.
If you are not able to exercise without your baby, just getting your body moving does wonders. Exercise produces natural endorphins, reduces stress, strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep — which all new mothers need — and boosts self-esteem.
Child birth changes a woman's body. Upon that first look in the mirror after giving birth, many women are overwhelmed with the image that they see. It is difficult to imagine things ever going back to the way they were, and you begin to feel self-conscious, often leading to low self-esteem. But regular exercise can provide energy, help you feel healthier and there's a good chance you will see your body start getting back to the way it was.
Exercise has helped me ward off many of the overwhelming feelings that come with having a new baby, and it may just work for you, too.
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by Arianne, "like" her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @arimom5 or visit her blog, timetofititin.com.