Becoming a mother is one of the most precious occasions in a woman’s life. When you finally get to see and hold this tiny little bundle of joy that grew inside your body for nine months, it is an almost surreal experience that can leave you with the biggest, most genuine smile you’ve ever had in your life. But that certainly doesn’t mean that taking care of your new baby is always easy.
Often, new mothers experience some level of mental and physical fatigue that can send them in search of a way to feel more energetic. However, most options involve taking some type of substance, which can cause concern if you are breast feeding and worried about passing unnatural substances on to your baby. So, if this is how you feel, one energizing option to consider is Pilates.
Pilates is an exercise form that is similar to yoga, but it utilizes the muscles in your core to a greater extent. This means that it strengthens and tones your abdomen and lower back, while providing you with greater flexibility and range of motion at the same time. It also helps you fight the fatigue that is common for so many new mothers. At least, that is what the research says.
The Singapore Medical Journal published a study that a group of researchers conducted on 80 women who had just given birth. One-half of the women were placed in an intervention group and engaged in 30-minute Pilates sessions five times a week for eight consecutive weeks (with the first session occurring three days after delivery), whereas the second half acted as a control and performed no Pilates at all. The womens’ fatigue was analyzed prior to the study, as well as four and eight weeks post-delivery.
Researchers discovered that the women who participated in Pilates reported lower levels of mental and physical fatigue than the women in the control group. They also indicated higher levels of physical activity and greater feelings of motivation.
A similar study presented in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in 2014 was conducted by almost all of the same researchers and used the same number of women. In this study, it was found that Pilates also improved sleep quality forn first-time mothers. Thus, this particular exercise offers many benefits for women who have just delivered, ranging from more energy to better sleep.
If you think Pilates could help you, talk to your doctor to ensure that this type of exercise program is safe for your health and condition. If it is, then doing it just 30 minutes a day, five days a week may be all you need to feel more energetic during the day and sleep better at night—two things most new mothers dream of.
Ashrafinia, F et al. (2015, March). Effect of Pilates exercises on postpartum maternal fatigue. Singapore Medical Journal, 56(3), 169-173.
Ashrafinia, F et al. (2014, April). The effects of Pilates exercise on sleep quality in postpartum women. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 18(2), 190-199, doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.09.007