Parenthood is difficult for all parents, but it is especially difficult for mothers who are recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. This recovery often happens behind the scenes to accommodate the constant needs of newborns. This maternal burden can leave mothers fatigued and overwhelmed, increasing the risk of postpartum anxiety and depression.
As researchers seeking to better understand ourselves and/or the postnatal journey of women, we can relate to the challenges mothers face in navigating. physical activity after the birth of the child; I would like to share two strategies that I have found to help (re)learning to engage in physical activity in new motherhood.
Our recommendations incorporate both physiological indicators of recovery (heart rate variability) and psychological indicators of well-being (self-compassion).
Navigating postpartum physical activity
Despite the potential benefits of physical activity for new mothers, few women engage in physical activity after the birth of their child. Lack was frequently cited as a barrier.
Naturally, postpartum women do not want to over-exercise while their bodies experience fatigue and recovery after going through pregnancy and childbirth. It is to help them learn to proceed with activities.
For example, if a mother has a very poor night’s sleep because her infant wakes up frequently, she may consider engaging in low-intensity physical activity or prefer to rest during the day so she can recover. No. In contrast, if the mother has had enough sleep and feels recovered, she may want to engage in more challenging physical activity.
Integrating physiological feedback into your physical activity plan can help you understand how your body is recovering (or not recovering).
One example is heart rate variability monitoring. It is frequently used by athletes to determine training load as it provides physiological feedback about the athlete. recoveryHeart rate variability has also been used to safely prescribe exercise for pregnant women.
Heart rate variability is a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat.
High heart rate variability indicates high beat-to-beat variability and the body is in a state of relaxed nervous system (parasympathetic tone). A high heart rate variability indicates that the body has a high capacity for stress and adaptation, and is able to cope with greater challenges.
Low heart rate variability indicates a more stable interbeat time, indicating that the body is in a more stressed nervous system state (sympathetic tone).
Low heart rate variability suggests a low body’s ability to cope with stress and adaptation.
Monitoring heart rate variability is a quick and easy way to assess your body’s stress status. New mothers can determine if their bodies are physically and mentally ready for physical activity, and can help determine the appropriate intensity for their current condition.
This personalized health information alleviates some of the fear new mothers experience when figuring out if their bodies are ready for exercise and allows for self-education in prescribing physical activity. There is a possibility.
For example, there are many leisure activities such as walking, stretching, playing with children, gardening, etc. that reduce stress on the body while increasing the heart rate and providing mental and physical health benefits. These activities can be done on days when your heart rate is less volatile than usual.
How to measure heart rate variability
The most accurate way to measure heart rate variability is with an ECG in the lab, but there are tools that can measure it at home. various heart rate monitor is commercially available and you can download a smartphone app to record your heart rate variability from your heart rate monitor, track your heart rate variability over time, and recommend physical activity intensity based on the results. .
One of the important things to remember about heart rate variability is that it is an individualized metric. What is “normal” for one person is not necessarily the same for another. Therefore, most smartphone apps ask you to record your awake heart rate variability for 1-2 weeks before recommending an intensity of physical activity.
The role of self-compassion
self pity It means treating yourself with the same kindness and sensitivity as a friend during difficult life events.
Self-compassion not only improves physical and mental health, but can also affect postpartum physical activity. It has been found that there is less guilt about stealing time. Through this lens of self-compassion, mothers are more comfortable devoting time to health-promoting behaviors such as physical activity.
Given the many mental and physical health benefits that mothers may experience from physical activity, there is a need for viable and meaningful methods to guide mothers through their participation in physical activity in their current living contexts. is.
Integrating knowledge of heart rate variability and self-compassion may lead to meaningful and informed engagement in physical activity.
On days when heart rate variability is lower than normal, mothers can consider whether they have time to focus on rest. low intensity movementAllowing your body to recover is more important than doing exercise that puts a strain on your body.
Reframing expectations regarding postpartum physical activity through the lens of self-compassion may lead to better physical and psychological well-being and engagement in physical activity in the long term.
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