I’ve shared in a previous post how I decided to begin the #walk1000miles challenge in month 5 of my pregnancy, and aimed to finish it by the time our baby was 5 months old. I walked a total of 492.9miles before giving birth, meaning I had just over 500 miles of walking left to complete as a new mum.
I’m writing this post because I struggled at the time to find information about how other people safely exercise as new mothers. I’m not a physical health professional – this is a diary of what worked for me.
Continuing to exercise after having a baby was in line with guidance at the time of my pregnancy:
If you had a straightforward birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This could include walking, gentle stretches, pelvic floor and tummy exercises.
When you’re feeling tired, being active may seem like the last thing you want to do. But regular activity can relax you, keep you fit and help you feel more energetic….. It can also help your body recover after childbirth and may help prevent postnatal depression.https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/keeping-fit-and-healthy-with-a-baby/ [accessed 2nd November 2021]
Walking for exercise immediately after birth / postpartum
Month 1 after birth (August 2021)
Physically, during August my body was still recovering: I bled fairly heavily for most of the month (lochia), and my body was sore and jangled. I walked the day after giving birth, with my husband and our new baby in a sling. After this, I just kept going. Walking this month was tentative and slow – the first walk was less than a mile, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been prouder of a walk. For the first few weeks, my husband walked every step with me whilst I began to rebuild my stamina and confidence. I extended my walks gradually, sometimes doing a couple of short walks in a day. Our baby walked with me in a sling, and loved it. During August, I was also learning to balance my energy as a new mum: walking, breastfeeding, cooking, socialising, playing with the baby and doing a lot of laundry.
Walks= 37; Average length: 1.89 miles; Miles covered= 70.2; Running total miles = 563.1
Month 2 after birth (September 2021)
I finished bleeding by the end of September. I was still building up strength and stamina, increasing the length of my walking gradually, and beginning to have more energy. I had my 8 week checks with my GP, and passed with flying colours. I was still learning to balance my energy levels as a new mum. My September walks were both solo and social walks with other mums. Our baby continued to walk with me in a sling, and I started to notice that walking was making my core muscles stronger.
Walks= 31; Average length= 2.98; Miles covered= 92.3 miles; Running total miles= 655.4
Month 3 after birth (October 2021)
Something clicked in October, and I suddenly felt like I was flying: physically, I had more energy and stamina. For example, I could clean and hoover the house, and walk 4-5 miles at a quick pace. I could feel my core muscles getting stronger. My walks during this month were a combination of solo and social with other mums, including one meet-up with our local NCT group. Our baby continued to walk with me in her sling, and really enjoyed it – particularly sleeping and looking up at the autumn leaves.
Walks= 41; Average length= 3.01 miles; miles covered= 123.7; Running total = 779.1 miles
Month 4 after birth (November 2021)
During November, I lost my drive to complete the challenge a bit, and found getting out of the front door tough going. This was due to the cold weather, the days getting shorter, a couple of big storms, and a bout of mastitis which made very unwell. Carrying on with the challenge this month felt like mind over matter.
Walks= 35; Average length= 3.08 miles; miles covered= 108; Running total = 887 miles
Month 5 after birth (December 2021)
During December, I was determined to finish the challenge if it was possible. This meant I sometimes walked twice a day. I even got out on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I finished my challenge on 28th December, and felt a real sense of achievement.
Walks= 35; Average length= 3.26 miles; miles covered= 114; Final total = 1001 miles
I walked a total of 492.9miles of my #walk1000miles challenge before giving birth to our daughter in July, and 507.1 miles after giving birth, carrying our daughter in a sling.
The #walk1000miles challenge meant I spent 339.5 hours walking, over 303 days between 1st March 2021 and 28th December 2021.
The #walk1000miles challenge gave me structure, routine, and purpose in keeping active before birth and as a new mum. It helped my body prepare for birth and recover; helped me spend more time outside; and helped me bond with our baby, whilst carrying her in a sling. I am delighted to have taken part in this challenge, and to have completed it.
I really loved the way this challenge embedded approximately an hour of walking into my daily routine whilst pregnant, and with our new daughter. I loved my 1000 miles because it was everyday and routine. I plan to maintain this habit next year.
I’d love to hear about your experiences of the #walk1000miles challenge, or of walking / exercising as a new mum- either in the comments, or over on @wholemealmum. How did you get on? What did you find easy, and more difficult? Did anything help you?