4 Essential Products To Get Right For An Active New Mum
Getting physically active post-baby has many benefits to both physical and mental health. But it can be easier said than done when you are managing sleep deprivation, new life roles and a recovering body. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to take a proactive approach to get active again. One of the most overlooked areas of maternal health is getting the right gear for both you and your baby. There’s a lot of clever marketing that can make choosing products difficult or overwhelming. Below are a few of my top tips to keep in mind if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting active post-birth.
The right pram can mean the difference between being housebound and getting out and active
Prams can make or break your intentions to get active again post-baby. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise in the first few weeks of birth. Having the right pram with the right accessories can make this a breeze. When purchasing a pram, aim for a good sturdy build that is also not too heavy. Make sure the handlebars are adjustable so you can set them to the right height and not end up with a painful back or shoulders. Wheel size and quality are important too. Wheels that are too small make it difficult to push your pram on uneven footpaths, gravel, and grass. It’s also important to keep in mind the safety of the baby. Look for a pram that has a 5-point harness, has adequate recline for a newborn and enough airflow. My top 2 accessories I love, especially for the Australian climate are an SPF 50+ sunshade that covers the whole pram and a cocoon for winter walks, so you are not battling blankets and wind. If you’re like me and live in Victoria – you’ll want both… sometimes in one day! If you plan to jog with a pram, remember not all prams are safe to do so. Just because the word ‘run’ or ‘jogger’ is in the name of the pram, doesn’t mean it’s safe to jog with. Do your research and check your pram is specifically designed for this form of fitness. It’s vital to hold off jogging with a newborn in the pram and wait until they have adequate head and postural control. And of course, before starting more intensive exercise like jogging, get the all-clear from an AHPRA registered health professional.
Baby carriers are not all created equal.
Baby carriers give you a way to get out of the house and active with your newborn – especially when they want to be close to you. Like prams, baby carriers are not all created equal and are not all suited to all age ranges of babies. When choosing a carrier, look for one with a high degree of adjustability with the straps, plenty of padding on the shoulders and waist and one you can get on without the need for a second person or a high degree of flexibility. If you plan to be walking or hiking out in the heat or rain you will also need to look for features that keep your baby safe and comfortable like a rain cover or a fabric that enables good airflow. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and ensure you have it correctly positioned on your body as many users position them too low which causes back and shoulder pain over time.
Nursery furniture can make or break you – literally!
There’s nothing like a back or shoulder injury to put a halt to your return to fitness and all the occupations you love like yoga, cycling, gym workouts or running. I see many new mums who are delayed in their return to exercise due to aches and pains caused by a poor nursery set up. Change tables that are too low, cots and bassinets that cause awkward positioning, ‘breastfeeding’ chairs that don’t fit the user and unsafe baby baths setups are common issues I see in my work. When choosing items and setting up your nursery, ensure the heights work for your body type and enable you to maintain neutral body alignment when using them. This will help reduce the prevalence of pain and injury and ensure you can get back on your health and fitness goals.
Don’t overlook clothing
Post-pregnancy clothing (especially pants) is an area that is often overlooked in the preparation stage of motherhood but can make life that bit easier if you have great gear. One of the things that shocked me when becoming a mum was the physical demands of caring for a baby. Getting on and off the floor constantly throughout the day, kneeling, squatting and even crawling is all in a day’s work. Having clothing that is easily washable, super comfortable and moves with you is essential from a practicality perspective. Being an Occupational Therapist, I also understand the science behind habit formation, motivation and barriers to carrying our desired actions such as exercise. Being already in activewear creates one less barrier to getting active when you have a baby and also feeds your identity as an active person – both big helpers in getting off the couch and moving your body.
Exercising based on how it makes you feel and not how it might change your body is a great way to optimise your physical and mental health. Having a baby is an enormous life transition - it’s important to take care of yourself, not just your baby. By getting yourself well set up with the right baby products and nursery set up can foster a positive transition and the ability to get active and even return to all those things you loved pre-baby.
Written by Emma Diepenhorst
Emma Diepenhorst is a mum who is passionate about helping women continue their active, fulfilling lifestyle after having children. She loves using her expertise as an Occupational Therapist to help women choose the right baby products and arrange their home to support both physical and mental wellbeing. You can find her at Elevation Women’s Health.