You can walk back into shape
This is a great time for outdoor exercise. Walking is an ideal form of postpartum exercise, because it is a low-impact activity with cardio benefits. Director of Fit Mommy, Debbie Ross, says although walking burns fewer calories than running, maintaining a steady pace for a longer time results in your body using your own fat store for energy. So grab your stroller and get walking with your baby. Just be sure to apply sunscreen, wear a hat and have a drink of water at hand.
The progesterone and relaxin your body produces during pregnancy can cause the ligaments in your feet to stretch, and your centre of gravity also tilts when you’re pregnant, so remember to wear comfortable shoes as your body will need support during and after pregnancy.
You can make healthier food choices
With so many colourful fruit and vegetables to choose from, you’re more likely to opt for fresh salads and smoothies when you’re feeling peckish. Go ahead and have fun with easy-to-prep smoothies and fruit salad recipes.
Cape Town-based dietician Alex Royal explains that after giving birth, your immune system is low owing to the change in hormones, the extra strain on your body if you’re breastfeeding, and lack of sleep. “This may be compounded by any medication you are taking to recover from birth, so it’s vital that you flood your system with the correct nutrients and make the right food choices,” she adds. You’ll need extra iron, folate and omega 3s. Alex recommends adding green juice, eggs and oily fish to your diet. You’re also more likely to drink more water to stay hydrated in the summer.
You’ll get vitamin D for free
Vitamin D helps increase calcium and phosphorus absorption from food and plays a crucial role in skeletal development, immune function and blood cell formation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Spending more time outdoors means you and your baby will be absorbing vitamin D, which is responsible for strengthening teeth and bones. A recent study by Bristol University in the UK revealed that vitamin D is also proven to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which is vital in reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
Jaundice is common in newborns, but it can be minimised by moderate exposure to sunlight.
Alex adds it might be a good idea to check your serum levels with a blood test. “If you’re on the low side, get a good vitamin D supplement,” she says.
There’s no need for so many layers
In winter, styling your bump means piling on the jerseys and coats, but with the sun out, whether you’re heavily pregnant or have just given birth, you can peel off the layers. Fewer clothing layers will result in easier skin-on-skin time and breastfeeding. Your baby will also be wearing fewer clothes, so you’ll need fewer items to lug around.
Looking good is almost effortless in the warmer months because you can just wear your favourite maxi dress and sandals. Style coach Dominique Wolf notes how long dresses, wide pants and unrestrictive clothing are all big trends this season. “A summer dress is easy and practical, and pretty florals and prints are also flattering on
a body that is still recovering from pregnancy and birth,” she says.
You’ll be in a brighter mood
With the sun out, there’s no reason to be cooped up indoors with your newborn, so you’re less likely to suffer from postnatal depression. The sun’s rays provide warmth and light that enhance your general feeling of wellbeing and stimulate blood circulation, according to WHO. This is linked to a chemical called serotonin, which has mood-lifting benefits.
There are also plenty of opportunities to catch up with friends, so integrating back into social activities will happen quicker.
There are fewer germs your baby can catch
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus that can be dangerous for babies who were born prematurely or those with lung and heart problems. Babies born in the summer months are less likely to contract it as it’s more common in the cooler months leading up to the cold and flu season. Dry skin and eczema can also flare up in cold winter months and cause your baby discomfort.
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.