By Hannah Schenker
We all know how important exercise is for our physical health, but it goes beyond that to improve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Exercising when pregnant and postpartum is just as important as ever – and whether you were active before becoming pregnant or not, incorporating walking and even jogging into your life will benefit you and your baby greatly – especially when you take them with you. All you need is a good pair of shoes and the right babywearing/carrying equipment and you’ll be away laughing.
Regular exercise improves immune function, increases the production of antioxidants in the body, helps you sleep, helps improve feelings of depression and anxiety, and helps to increase your appetite for healthy and nourishing foods.
Walking is one of the best things we can do for our cardiovascular health and will help strengthen your body in preparation for labour. It is something we can all do, regardless of fitness levels as you can make it as easy or as challenging as you want. Women who are used to high impact physical activity will still reap benefits from walking to stay active during their pregnancy, and women who are looking to begin exercising both during pregnancy and postpartum will find walking a great place to start. Walking during pregnancy will help keep you and your baby’s weight in check, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Even better, walking will help increase flexibility and tone in your hip flexor muscles, which may help you have a shorter, easier labour and support your recovery time.
So – after the first couple of weeks at home, you can ease back in with some gentle walking with your newborn in a good carrier. The Lillebaby Complete carrier is a fantastic option to get you out and about with its six ergonomic carrying positions, without the need for an infant insert – Front-fetal, Front-infant, Front-outward, Front- toddler, Hip and Back carry. This carrier will see you through all the growing stages, from 3kg to 20kg! It has many other features that will make sure you and baby are both comfortable and free to explore the outdoors, bringing you all the health benefits walking can bring. Start with a trip around the block and increase slowly – definitely do not overdo it, listen to your body and go at your own pace. Make sure to watch for signs in your body that you are overdoing it – such as bleeding, sore breasts, incisions not healing well, dizziness or even if you need to nap more than you need exercise. This is your body telling you to cool it, babe.
Jogging requires a little more thought, as it is much higher impact on you and your baby when you are pregnant, and is something to ease back into slowly postpartum as your body adjusts and recovers from birth. Going out for a run two weeks after birth will put undue stress on your recovering body, causing your adrenal glands to pump out cortisol to increase your heart and breathing rates, and increase blood flow to your muscles. Postpartum, your cortisol levels are already lower than usual, so you don’t want to tip the balance or overload your system.