By Stephen Barth, One on One Physical Therapy
Here are a few key tips for fi nding balance with your new baby:
Breathing is probably the most misunderstood ‒ and most important ‒ entity of overall health. The increased stress of caring for a newborn can put new moms in a state of “fi ght or fl ight” on a prolonged basis, which can put her at risk for weight gain or developing chronic disease. A daily regimen of deep bellybreathing for 5-20 minute sessions can calm the nervous system and release toxic stress. Every breath brings oxygen to our cells, giving us energy, vitality and life ‒ so the more we breathe in, the better we feel!
- Get rest
Often easier said than done, taking a brief nap when the baby naps can go a long way in recharging your batteries and feeling refreshed and energized to complete your day. When the baby goes to sleep at night, you should too. Make healthy food choices and hydrate. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide the necessary nutrients and energy to fuel your body for the day. And don’t forget to drinkplenty of water (no sugary drinks!) to avoid dehydration and exhaustion.
- Stand tall
When our body is balancedthrough our spine, muscles work more efficiently and energy is transferred effectively. Our chances of muscle strain reduce dramatically when we are strong through our postural muscles and core. To avoid the unnecessary strain that comes from lifting or carrying your baby all day, stand tall from your core by lifting your chest up and pulling your belly button in toward the spine.
- Do yoga or Pilates
Find a yoga or Pilates class on TV or DVD that you can do right at home. Yoga keeps you strong, calm and fl exible and provides energy to battle fatigue; Pilates emphasizes the balanced development of core strength, fl exibility and body awareness that supports effi cient movement. After childbirth, the abdominal wall has been severely stretched, or too often these days, cut during a C-section. Many women never regain sufficient core stability and abdominal strength, which can lead to low back pain, sciatica and other physical conditions later in life.
- Walk tall
Take a nice long brisk walk with the baby snuggled in his/her stroller, paying mind to walking tall with your abdominals engaged. Squeeze your butt muscles while taking long strides, pushing into the ground with each step.
- Go on a date… with your spouse!
When your new bundle of joy arrives, sometimes the romance between couples gets pushed aside. Since the baby gets the majority of attention from both of you, finding time to spend together as a couple becomes less important. Keep the romance alive: on a weekly basis (if possible), fi nd a babysitter and go to dinner, or do something you both enjoy.
Stephen Barth is a physical therapist, strength and conditioning specialist and new dad. He has worked with many new moms following pregnancyin regaining their health, fi tness and function. For questions or to schedule an evaluation, contact him at email@example.com or 718.982.6340.