Postpartum Fitness & Mental Health
September 26, 2021September 29 is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day! We know that body confidence and regular exercise can be especially challenging postpartum. But staying physically active is one of the best things you can do to help overcome postpartum depression. Here are some tips and exercises you might want to incorporate into your routine to help you stay mentally and physically healthy.
About one in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) after giving birth in the U.S.1 While the “baby blues” are common feelings of worry, sadness, and fatigue that can stick around for a few days, some new moms have more intense, prolonged PPD, with feelings that could become a serious medical condition. Some signs and symptoms include:
- Crying more than usual
- Feeling angry
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Feeling disconnected from your new baby
- Excessive worrying
- Feeling guilty about not being a good mom
- Doubting your ability to care for your baby
Exercise to Ease PPD
Exercise can help new moms lower their postpartum anxiety and depression symptoms. Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that moderate-intensity physical activity following baby’s birth can increase a mom’s cardiorespiratory fitness and improve her mood.2
The same guidelines recommend that postpartum women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, swimming, or biking, spread over 30-minute increments throughout the week. Strength training and core exercises such as yoga, Pilates, and weightlifting a few days a week are also beneficial. But don’t be intimidated by that goal. If 10 minutes a day of a high-intensity activity is what you can handle, it’s a start!
Nurture Your Mind-Body Connection
Just as you did during pregnancy, you have wildly fluctuating hormones that are flowing throughout your body post-birth and pushing the buttons on a wide range of emotions that directly affect your body. Practicing a little self-love can help you lessen the stressors and anxiety that can trigger postpartum depression symptoms.
Rest. Getting enough rest and sleep is vital for mental clarity. Make sure you’re getting enough rest. Make sure you split overnight baby duty with your spouse or partner or another family member at least twice a week so you can get the rest your body needs.
Eat well. Vital nutrients such as vitamin D can help put you in a better mood and reduce your risk of PPD.
Find a confidant. Find someone that you can share your honest, raw feelings with. Talk to other mothers who have been there and done it. It is important not to keep your feelings and frustrations to yourself.
Get out of the house. Make time to meet with friends out of the house and away from baby. And Do. Not. Feel. Guilty. You deserve this time for adult interaction, and you need it. As soon as you realize you’re not thinking clearly, ask for help.
Lose the negative self-talk. Don’t be fooled by the unrealistic or altered post-baby body images you see on social media or in entertainment magazines. You do you and give yourself all the time and space you need to adjust.
Seek help when you need it. Feeling emotional is normal after your bundle of joy arrives, until it’s not. If your depression lasts more than a few days, ask for help.
When you can return to a normal physical exercise routine depends on your birth experience. Be sure and ask your doctor for guidance.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is brought to you by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.