Many moons ago, as a new mum, I remember how it felt. Like an invasion of ‘the body snatchers’, my body was no longer my own. I was suddenly thrust into the world of breastfeeding and felt like I was ‘going through the motions’ without a break in sight. My breasts were sore, I was sleep-deprived, and my entire body was slowly recovering from the aches + pains of childbirth.
Much as I adored my newborn (and had never felt a love quite like it ever before!); I felt overwhelmed with exhaustion. But slowly, as I got used to feeding my baby every 3 hours, I found time to rest + recoup. And then one day, the most miraculous thing happened ...
I mustered up the courage to venture out of the house, on my own, to take bubs for his first walk!
Ah, the joys of fresh air and my body moving again, and yet - still so nervous about how I would survive with bubs, even for a few hours, out of the warm confines of my mama nest. But as I breathed, and the scary ‘what ifs’ subsided, I somehow closed the door of my abode behind me, and walked on with oodles of courage.
Taking baby steps (no pun intended) with my new pram, I finally rejoined the universe – listening to the rhythms of life: as the noise of the cars passed me by + I felt the summer breeze whoosh through my hair. And all the while: I watched lovingly as bubs calmly lulled himself off to sleep to the gentle jostling of the pram.
Whew. Mission accomplished!
As I look back fondly, those early summer walks with my newborn were so nourishing for my soul. It was as if I was returning to myself, even for just a few hours – by allowing my body to feel somewhat human again. Like I was getting back to some sort of normality.
what ‘getting back to normal’ means
As new mothers, ‘getting back to normal life’ takes on a whole new meaning, especially when you feel like your body is no longer your own, and when social media is putting pressure on mums to recover quickly after childbirth. For having a baby is a huge transition: not only physically, but mentally as well.
Of course, what ‘getting back to normal’ means, is entirely personal. It may mean you wanting to adopt safe exercise to slowly rebuild your strength. Or choosing to harness mindful self-care habits into your daily routine to help you feel more grounded + connected. It may even mean uplifting your thoughts with more positivity – to help you get back your zing!
3 ways to get back your zing as a new mum
The first 6-8 weeks after childbirth, is commonly known as your recovery period: a time to slow down and adjust yourself to a new routine. Of keeping yourself physically, mentally + emotionally healthy: by sleeping, feeding + connecting with your baby.
But after this period passes, and you get used to your new routine, and your body has started to feel a bit more rested - you may want to get brave: and start venturing out and about with baby. This is a great sign that your body is slowly on its road to recovery, and ready to cultivate some happy energy!
Oxytocin: the feel-good hormone
Oxytocin is commonly known to be a natural hormone that invigorates our being when we expend energy from our body. It happens naturally and if done daily, can transform us from feeling lethargic and growly, to sparkly and peppy! This is great news in the window of time after childbirth: as physical movement can also work wonders for your mood as well!
1. physical movement you can try, to rebuild your energy
Planning your first stroll with bubs in tow is exciting. But it also takes deep concentration + precision to make sure you have all the extras you need for changing + feeding (not to mention those unforeseen little accidents!). As it becomes part of your routine, you’ll get more organized, and you will feel like you are somewhat back in control. But you also must remember – that your body is still in recovery mode, and a bit more sensitive and more prone to injury if you return to high impact exercise too quickly. So, take it slow + go, go, go!
postpartum reformer pilates
As new mums just recovering from childbirth, we are often bending, sitting, feeding + lifting our newborn. So, joining a post-natal pilates studio is a great, considered option to not only strengthen your pelvic floor muscles; but to create a ritual of self-care for yourself too. It is a way of nurturing your body: to help reconnect with your core, improve your posture (that takes a hit while breastfeeding!) and slowly rebuilding your body’s strength to move around safely, especially when carrying bubs 24/7!
Want a daily dose of Zen while strengthening your body? Postnatal yoga involves gentle postures ranging from static to flowing physical movement. It may take time to get going with this practice, and it also may require lots of patience, (but stay strong mama: and this will probably be the only peace + quiet you’re ever going to get for the next 20 years or so!).
Yoga is commonly known to connect you back to your mind + body awareness. It’s mixed with gentle breathing, balance, and strength. But mostly – gentle yoga poses commonly invigorate your spirit + connect and ground your brain to a space of stillness, and … ahh ... inner peace!
2. self-care activities you can try, to calm your mind
Is your mind feeling frazzled due to lack of sleep? Feeling anxious by motherhood mania? Along with the physical challenges that may occur postpartum, as new mums; we may start worrying about bubs so much, that we may begin over-thinking things and causing ourselves stress, rather than just going with the flow. If this is starting to happen, perhaps it’s time to start filling your cup with moments of tranquility – so your thoughts can feel clearer, calm + refreshed. So, you can reconnect, rejuvenate + restore yourself back into balance.
set aside a quick burst of quiet time
Get some calmness back into your life – by setting aside some quiet time away from the chaos of nappies + feeding. Do this by sitting still in silence: to self-reflect + focus on your thoughts. Perhaps after your walk, and putting bubs down for a morning nap, would be an optimal moment to set aside time to settle yourself down + reconnect with your thoughts + feelings. Time is also of no essence. Even a 5–15-minute period of peace + quiet will do the trick!
Connect with your emotions by journaling your feelings in a diary or notebook. The practice of writing your thoughts down will help clear them from your head, slow down your mind + relieve anxious feelings. The best time to do this? Is when a pocket of time becomes free. Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, it is healthy to express your written thoughts in order to feel calm + collected.
Speaking of mindful moments of peace, meditation is a practice of sitting in silence + allowing our thoughts to flow. A great way to get started with meditation - is by listening to a meditation app, podcast, or YouTube recording when you are alone. There are many 10-minute recordings that you can choose from that will not only resonate with you; but that will fill just enough time in those ‘in between’ moments when you are feeding bubs, folding the laundry, making dinner, or having a bath. In fact, there are so many meditations available, depending on what your emotional needs are, that in no time at all, you’ll be embodying more inner peace in your life.
walking in nature
Another great way to slow your mind down is to surround yourself in nature. You can do this by walking along the beach with bubs in a pram or by glimpsing the ebb and flow of the ocean as it hits the shore. In fact, being in nature is known to be so therapeutic, that in Japan, walking in a forest and hugging trees, otherwise known as forest bathing - is known to be a go-to favourite pastime: to bring a sense of calm back into our minds + bodies! Even better – try buddying up with a fellow mama friend and go team walking together to win back your confidence + boost your physical and emotional energy!
3. self-care activities you can try, to uplift your mood
Lack of sleep is hard to get used to. Often, we are meant to sleep when baby sleeps to have adequate rest during the day, but our world has become so full of noise (not to mention society’s expectations of what new mums should be doing) that we often feel mentally overwhelmed, and our self-esteem suddenly may feel low.
Time to fill your cup with some postnatal positivity? Perhaps it’s time to boost your mental energy!
start by … building some positivity
Exploring the way you think, is the first step to building more postpartum positivity. To start, we’ll share some ways you can think happy: so, you can surge forward into motherhood with a bright, positive attitude ...
What kind of words do you say to yourself, daily? Do you talk to yourself with self-belief, compassion + kindness, or do you critique yourself harshly? Would you speak the same way to your newborn that you say to yourself on a daily basis? If not, maybe it’s time: to start harnessing some positive self-talk, for the sake of you + your baby’s wellbeing.
Recalling your unique strengths not only helps rebuild your confidence; but teaches your children the values of honouring themselves as well. So, make it a habit of reminding them that they are honest, brave, curious + adventurous too! The very act of planting a vocabulary of values in our minds, can boost our confidence so we can thrive!
think big thoughts
If we asked kids to behave like a statue, how would they look? Would they stand tall + still? Would they be brimming with confidence + strength? If so, then why not embody some of these qualities as well, in yourself? Having monumental beliefs about ourselves helps us stand taller + expands our own thinking system: to face the world with an abundance of tenacity + resilience. Great values for building positive thinking!
learn to let go
Are you holding onto a negative person, memory, or situation, even though it fills you with an unnecessary level of stress? If so, it may be time to let go. Letting go relieves us of negative thinking by saying goodbye to things that no longer serve us. Having a conversation with a close friend, relative, or recommended health professional to support us when we are feeling down can often help us let go of what is no longer working for us, to lead us towards a path of positive thinking!
Being a new mum can bring a wealth of life-changing experiences into your world – full of physical, mental + emotional changes that are as wondrous as they are challenging. Whether you choose to embody more strength, clarity, or positivity on your brand-new mama journey – always remember: that you alone have the power mama – to spread your giant source of light to those you love the most!
And remember – this blog is for informational purposes only. New exercise regimens after childbirth are potentially risky, and so we at b.box ask you to seek advice from an appropriate health care professional such as your GP, women’s health physio or your local maternal health nurse in your area, before trying any new exercise routine.
Nicole Salinger is a copywriter + mental health first aider at b.box. She’s also a fellow mama-raiser of 4 grown humans. She is here to share the truth - and nothing but the truth – about the precious journey of Motherhood – and how to recover your sanity with children in tow!