I was hospitalized two months before my due date and my daughter was a preemie. My daughter spent two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Even though I bonded with the NICU staff and I knew she was receiving top notch care, those two weeks were emotionally and physically draining. I'm a clinical psychologist, and I knew I had the baby blues. As a mental health professional, I knew how common baby blues were and I also knew I had to do something before it evolved into post-partum depression. I talked to the NICU social worker and we discussed my strengths and what I needed in order to feel better. I am an active person and I had a very active pregnancy. Sitting around and not exercising was stressful for me. I was itching to work out again, but I knew I had to wait for my body to heal from pushing out a little human. While I was in workout limbo, I made my behavioral activation plan and began researching workout options. I looked up several gym/workout options, and then I found Fit4Mom.
At first, I had very low expectations of a stroller workout program and thought it would just be a bunch of moms with strollers walking around the mall while sipping on lattes (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I didn't care, I thought I'd be out of the house and walking with my baby near me. Then I went to my first Stroller Strides session and it blew me away! I loved the circuit training, body weight/cardio mix with nursery rhymes and baby friendly songs. I definitely got my sweat on/heart rate up and it helped me feel better physically. The other aspect I didn't expect was how much it would help me emotionally. Fit4Mom provided a great sense of community with other moms. I learned so much about motherhood from talking to these moms and the community was so supportive. Sleep regression? No problem, here's what to do. Difficulty breast feeding? No problem, try this. The conversations ranged from baby specific issues like dealing with acid reflux to just chatting about our day, and yes, we often had lattes after the workout. I had a place to be every day at 0915. This program gave me structure and a reason to leave the house every day and interacting with other moms who understood or at least heard my struggles. Between my baby being home (out of the hospital) and making big preemie gains, and the physical exercise and social support of Fit4Mom, I was feeling like me again. I ended up loving my maternity leave time, largely because of the connections I made during this time. Fit4Mom became my village and these mommas were instrumental in getting me get back to good after a very difficult time. I encourage any new mommas who are willing to be active and who may find themselves feeling stressed out or isolated during maternity leave to give it a try. I promise you, it's more than walking around the mall drinking lattes! It's a workout community, it's a mom community, and it's a village.
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