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Fit Pregnancy: Post-Partum Exercise and Dealing With Anxiety

Posted Nov 15 2009 10:01pm 2 Comments
Let's be clear: this is not my baby. If it were, there would have been twice as much tape plus a couple of pairs of scissors, some contraband Halloween candy and a spare brother or two caught in there as well.

Five Great Things About Having a One-Week-Old Baby
5. The explosion of pink! It's like a Pepto Bismol factory vomited all over my house. And I love it. Let's face it, I needed a little estrogen backup around here.

4. Having my husband home all week. Not only did he entertain the three boys marvelously but he also caught up on a bunch of home improvement projects. I have curtains again! (No thanks to the Tarzan-monkeys that pulled them all down in the first place. You know that phrase "hanging from the chandeliers"? It's not just a colloquialism at our house. That has literally happened. And yes, the chandelier came right out of the ceiling. They don't make 'em like they used to! Chandeliers, that is, not kids. As far as I know kids are still made exactly like they used to be. No, I'm not giving you instructions so don't ask. ANYHOW.)

3. Finding out how many people love us. I am still overwhelmed by all the gifts, meals, phone calls, e-mails and other acts of kindness that have come our way. (Truth to be told, I'm feeling a little undeserving. But grateful! Very, very grateful.)

2. I'm not pregnant anymore! I can see my feet! No more heart burn! I can put on pants like a normal human being again (well, I would be able to if normal pants fit yet.) If I suck in really hard I can imagine I have a waist again! Plus, my rack is awesome. Yeah, I said it. Seriously, this is so exciting for me that I would have put it as number one except that nothing trumps...

1. My sweet little baby! She is the squishiest, cutest, cuddliest, yummy-smellingest, most adorable, best baby ever! (You know, except for my previous three. What? Someday they are going to learn how to read and we all know Google is Forever.)

Five Not-So-Great Things About Having a One-Week-Old Baby 1. It turns out they can all be condensed into one bad thing: anxiety. Sure, I could whine about multiple night feedings, my kangaroo stomach, my milk letting down every 3 hours on the dot (tingly!) and everything else that comes with caring for a post-partum body and a new infant but really these things don't bother me much. At least not compared to the hanging-by-my-fingernails post-partum anxiety.

I've written before
about how my version of the "baby blues" entails obsessive worrying and panic attacks - called post-partum panic/anxiety disorder - and how it gets worse with every child. I knew this was coming so I wasn't surprised by the heart palpitations and racing thoughts (5th time's the charm!). I think I'm dealing with it pretty well - I spend a lot of time meditating, talking myself down and basking in the atomic glow of my Happy SAD Light - but it doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. With my last baby it seemed to peak at about 2 weeks post-partum and get better from there. I'm hoping for a similar arc with this one. In the meantime, thanks to all of my friends and family members that have babysat me in the evenings this past week!

Of course one of the hardest parts of this PPA is that I still can't use my primary coping mechanism: exercise. Now that I'm feeling much better after the birth, I'm anxious (ha! get it?) to return to real workouts and not just walking. But I know if I start too much too soon my body will slap me down like a WWF wrestler except instead of a chair over the head it will be mastitis (wow, just using that word makes me feel like a cow.)

Reader Rachel wrote to me a while ago asking what my post-partum exercise plan was. Here it is: not get sick. As we all learned from the infamous mice-on-mini-treadys studies, exercise in moderation boosts your immune system but too much makes you sicker than none at all. I started several days after her birth with just some seriously slow walking. Now that we've passed the one-week mark I plan on upgrading that to moderate walking and yoga. Week three I'm adding in some weights. I'm making myself wait to do anything hardcore like TurboKick until a month. Running we'll just have to wait and see as my hips are still completely disconnected and have the nasty habit of going in opposite directions when I walk.

What is your advice for coming back from a long exercise hiatus? Even if you've never been pregnant, almost everyone has had to work back from an injury, illness, surgery or other life event! Anyone else get post-partum anxiety?
Comments (2)
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You are basically nuts! Well I am kidding. You make me jealous with the counts and pleasure that you are experiencing with your five week old baby. I am jealous because I am on contraceptive and it will take five years. -

It's so great to hear that you totally get it about the need to come back slow. I know how eager you must be to get back to your regular routines! But sounds like taking care of yourself is a higher priority, and you are not exactly known for being lazy and unmotivated.

Sorry to hear about the anxiety; good that you know your patterns so you know that when it gets bad, it's about anxiety and not reality. Still sucks though; hope that part is over soon!

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