The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s health and it’s been a challenging period, especially for mums. With added child-care responsibilities, home chores and office work, women are experiencing a negative impact on their mental well-being.
New mums in the postpartum phase, in particular, are at an additional disadvantage due to the increased challenge of caring for infants.
However, a new study from the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute at the University of Alberta, outdoor exercise can boost the mental health of new mums. It might contribute greatly towards improving your mental well-being, especially during the postpartum period.
Mental health issues during postpartum
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The postpartum phase is the first six weeks after childbirth when post-pregnancy physical changes are the greatest. Most new mums go through a lot during this phase for multiple reasons.
First, your hormones are acting up and your body is recovering physically from the childbirth process.
All of this can affect the mental health of new mums drastically and take the form of depression. If left untreated, a woman can continue to experience postpartum depression effects for up to a year.
The situation got worse for new mums during the pandemic
This situation worsened during the pandemic, as most new mothers were left with limited access to resources and support due to the numerous restrictions in place.
Furthermore, the said study found that physical activity is an effective therapy for depression and anxiety. Surprisingly, all it takes is just 45 minutes to improve the anxiety levels in women without a history of mental illness, the study concluded.
Researchers found that those women who did some physical activity in their postpartum period reported better mental well-being in comparison to those who remained less physically active.
Even though the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends women slowly return to physical activity four to six weeks after giving birth and then gradually work their way to general fitness. But that hardly happens.
The general physical activity levels are lower in the postpartum phase than they were before the woman got pregnant.
Some of the barriers coming in the way of physical activity for a woman in the postpartum phase are reduced motivation, lack of social support and increased childcare responsibilities.
Exercise For Mental Health Amidst The Pandemic
We are close to 18 months into the pandemic (if not less) and there is no end in sight. Even with the vaccination drive in full force, there are still new reports of Covid-19 cases on the island.
However, bearing the current challenges, mums need to innovate when it comes to exercising and taking care of their health.
For instance, exercising in nature has not only shown a reduction in stress and anxiety levels but it leads to increased enjoyment while being outside.
As part of the study, 21 women who were less than nine months postpartum enrolled in a bi-weekly outdoor group exercise program for eight weeks. It was kept in an outdoor location whilst following all Covid-19 safety norms.
As a result, mums could participate freely without the risk of exposure to the virus.
All the participants reported a decrease in depression and an improvement in motivation after the program ended. These findings suggest that new mums can experience an improvement in overall well-being after engaging in group exercises.
Singapore Helplines New Mums Can Contact
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Being a new mum can be incredibly challenging and lonely at the same time. It surely feels a lot like that these days when everyone has been distancing to stay safe.
At the same time, it’s important to address the issue because loneliness can lead to serious mental health problems.
If you have been feeling down for the major part of the day, are constantly crying or have any suicidal thoughts, you need to seek immediate help.
Do remember, seeking help is not to be embarrassed about. It means you are looking out for your own well-being as you should.
Here are some helpline numbers you can contact in Singapore.
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
With lockdown restrictions relaxed, mums go out and interact with nature to rejuvenate your body and mind. Check if there are any group fitness programs in your area, which you can join.
Form a group of other new mums or join an existing one. You will find other people supportive of your issues and can keep motivating each other.
For more information on how you can choose a healthy lifestyle for your baby and the whole family, visit https://babypass.health/
The Importance of Good Mental Health to Support a Healthy Pregnancy: A Mum’s Own Story
Mental Health During Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know
Parenting in the Pandemic: Expert-Approved Tips to Have More Time for Self-Care