Your postnatal strength is so important for your mental health

If you feel physically weak after having babies it can have a domino effect on your emotional energy, feelings of competence, self-confidence, your sense of identity. This can spiral negatively, leading to self-doubt and self-criticism, which impacts on your health and happiness. Taking ownership of your postnatal physical recovery creates positive momentum, which can influence all other aspects of your health and wellbeing.

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You can replenish and renew your energy with conscious attention, and it doesn’t have to be a huge extra thing on your already overwhelming to do list. You can rebuild your reserves through bodywork, relaxation and breathing, and by putting yourself first a bit more. We’re encouraged to prioritise our health during pregnancy – what you eat and drink, how much you exercise and rest – and this is deemed legitimately important because ‘it’s for the baby’. For some reason, though, once baby is out we feel it’s no longer valid to put our health and wellbeing first. We need to reframe that.

If ‘doing it for you’ feels indulgent or makes you feel guilty, remember that it is still ‘for the baby’. You need to be firing on all cylinders and in optimum health and energy, arguably more so, once your baby is out and you’re tending to all their emotional, physical and snack-related needs. We also need to be happy to be around ourselves – you are your own constant companion. Consider how our energies transfer to the people around us. If we’re stressed and depleted, this affects all our interactions. I’m definitely a nicer person to be around when I’m able to look after my body and mind. How much you move, what you eat, drink, how much you’re resting – these are the building blocks of your energy. Making babies and giving birth is a huge physical feat and we need to honour the recovery.

I read recently that the average mum has approximately 17 minutes to herself every day. That probably doesn’t include trips to the toilet, which are often accompanied. I know that your time is precious. Exercise has myriad proven benefits for body and soul: you’ll feel fitter, stronger, tighter, more in control of what’s happening to your body. You’ll feel uplifted and energised. But, sadly, exercise can also be a source of anxiety and depletion after having a baby, if you’re leaking wee when you try to run, or you’re utterly exhausted and simply don’t have the energy. It can become a gremlin, something that you should be doing.

Pilates offers you the bridge between ‘I just can’t’ and ‘actually, I can’. Pilates can be gentle and is low impact, but deceptively challenging – if you find it too easy, you’re probably not doing it right. It can also get your blood pumping and offer you that sense of achievement and a great endorphin rush without placing strain on your pelvic floor and joints. It builds your strength and vitality from the inside out: making it possible for you to begin running again without fear of embarrassing leaking, and offering you a safe way of replenishing and building vital energy on those days when an aerobic workout feels like a step too far.

My new Postnatal Pilates book comes out next year. In the meantime – download Squeezy app, go to your GP and ask to be referred to women’s health physio. If you go a Pilates class, make sure your instructor knows about diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues. Investigate how best to connect to your pelvic floor, and what diastasis recti is. Don’t put up with feeling not quite right. You deserve to feel optimal, energised…normal! You can strengthen, however old your ‘baby’ is. Once you’ve ever had a baby, you are forever postnatal in my book (literally, in my book…).

How are you today?

Pilates for Pregnancy by Anya Hayes

#pelvicfloor #postnatalcare #pnd #vitality #strength #postnatalrecovery #postnataldepression #diastasisrecti #guilt #postnatalenergy #pilates #anxiety #postnatalpilates #pelvicfloorexercises #selfcare

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