Give Yourself Grace: Nine Tips Encouraging Postpartum Mamas Getting Outside After Baby

Give Yourself Grace: Nine Tips Encouraging Postpartum Mamas Getting Outside After Baby

Being outdoors is my lifestyle. For many years, being outdoors was my job, and it is also where I pursued my recreational passions of trail running and hiking. It’s no wonder that when I was pregnant with my first son in 2018, I instantly began imagining all the great outdoor adventures we would have together. 

Whether you have lived a life outdoors or you’re wanting to begin living a life outdoors, I am here to encourage you to do it! Get outside mamas, it will do wonders for your mental and physical health. 

A life outdoors is for everyone- ESPECIALLY mothers of newborn infants. Here are my top nine tips encouraging postpartum mamas to get outside, but to give themselves grace as well.  

Mom wearing baby in child carrier on chest pulling 2 other kids on sled through snow remembering to give yourself grace.
Getting outside postpartum is good for mama, baby and others in the family as well!

Top Nine Tips on How to Give Yourself Grace and Get Outside

1. A Room With A View

When and how to get outside postpartum is ultimately up to you. Your doctor can make suggestions based on medical advise, experience and observations. 

Your friends and family can and will share their unsolicited opinions as well. My thoughts? Don’t rush it, don’t worry about the future, just savor the new baby experience and pick a room with a view. 

You’ll know when you’re ready to be active outdoors again. The moments and memories of your infant are fleeting, protect that time you two have together without worrying about getting outside if it’s not in the cards.

Your body and your mind will tell you when the time is right, or when you’re forcing the process. Trust your gut instinct here, and believe in the process of rest and recovery.  

There is no manual and there is no simple formula or recipe for postpartum recovery. Every pregnancy and birth story is different, every child born is different and postpartum recovery for a mama will be different as well.

I promise you new mama, the will and desire to be outdoors will strike. The variables are many and it will depend on your: interest, comfort level, capabilities, ability, postpartum recovery, desire, need and preparedness, to name a few.

In the mean time, set yourself up for success- enjoy your time with your infant somewhere with at least a great view of the outdoors while you recover and rest up. Looking out the window at the view will eventually draw you outside as well.

If you don’t have a room with a view, find a painting or photograph of the outdoors that inspires and excites you to get outdoors. This “view” will help ripen the seed bed so to speak, helping to foster your excitement and desire to get outside.

island mountain range emerges out of the prairie in central Montana.
If you don’t have a room with a view to rest and recover postpartum in, find a picture or photograph that inspires you. I used to live in Montana and the Crazy Mountains (pictured here) were one of the mountain ranges we could see.

2. Embrace the Season of Planning

Remember, the important thing isn’t the plan, but the planning. 

Embrace the flexibility to roll and adapt with your new normal postpartum. Every pregnancy and birth is different, but planning can help you navigate the 4th trimester and get outdoors when the time is right.

The same goes for new mamas of foster or adopted children. Everyone knows young kids have no concept of (or regard for) plans, but planning is a great exercise to involve them with from a young age. 

Exercising your planning muscle can help young children and new family members learn the family groove, even if the plans themselves don’t go according to the… plan. I’m also of the opinion that planning fosters hope and S.M.A.R.T. goal setting

Part of my postpartum recovery with my third baby entailed reading books instead of mindlessly scrolling social media. I was delighted to read, Jill Ragan’s, “The Tiny But Mighty Farm: Cultivating High Yields, Community, and Self-Sufficiency from a Home Farm” since her voice and style really resonates with me.

While discussing farm planning, Jill says, “Your journey will be intricate, unique, and built to fit your family’s needs. Embrace the season of planning, and you will be in the hustle and bustle of reaping the fruits of your labor for years to come.”

Sure she was referring to beginning a farm, but the sentiment spoke to me also as a postpartum mama with plans to get back outdoors in the swing of things. My pregnancy and journey postpartum most likely isn’t like yours, but like yours, my plans are intricate, unique and built to fit. 

And because I’m a busy mama of 3 under 5 on a small family farm, my plans are foiled daily by kids, animals, plants and life in general. Rather than letting the constant chaos derail me mentally, I strive to embrace this season of planning. 

I’m confident that this season of planning will lead to great fruits in the future. I also know that plans change and some plans need to be let go of. 

Embracing this season of planning and letting go of some outdoor plans can help with finding grace postpartum. Some long term plans will be achieved much quicker if certain short term plans are not rushed, or some expectations simply let go of. 

Jen Gardner, TMM Team member, recounted her days postpartum with her daughters. Following the birth of her second daughter, she struggled with postpartum depression and didn’t particularly enjoy moving her body outside. 

She says just letting go of any goals and just going outside did wonders for her physical and mental wellbeing postpartum.

We didn’t always need to climb a mountain or find an epic watering hole, sometimes swaying my body back and fort on the back patio was all I could muster and that was exactly what we needed.

TMM Team Member Jen

Give yourself grace mama, you don’t need to be checking off plans postpartum like a machine. This season of planning is enough. 

If all you are able to do is plan, that is enough. With some patience, you will be back in the outdoor swing of things quicker than you had imagined. 

Centrl asian shepherd puppy with infant dressed in snowsuit.
We didn’t plan on having 5 dogs, but within a month of welcoming home our third baby, there we were. A family of 5, with 5 dogs.

3. Take Your Time

One of the hard things for many mamas is slowing down enough to take their time. I think many of us are chomping at the bit to get back into things postpartum that we rush the rest and recovery process, inadvertently hindering and slowing our recovery. 

I love this story from TMM team member and new mama, Jess Haas:

The moment I realized I’d need more time was when I tried running at 12 weeks (postpartum) was a bit of a downer, but then I thought about how strong I’ll be if I work back slowly in the RIGHT way. This thought helped me give myself grace.

TMM Team Member Jess H.

Jess’s words made me think back to my collegiate running days when so many of my fellow teammates would be sidelined with injuries. So many of tried rushing the recovery process which only exacerbated their injuries or depleted them, putting them further behind achieving their goals, slowing and extending the recovery process.

TAKE. YOUR. TIME. 

Your body didn’t grow and produce a baby in one day, it took 9 months. Let your body rest and recover adequately from the 9 months it spent carrying you and growing your infant.

mother walking in field and wearing infant in an infantino child carrier while holding toddlers hand.
Since welcoming home our third baby, I’m working on pacing myself. It seems like when I try to rush or hurry everyone along, that’s when we have melt downs and I lose my patience.

4. Baby Steps

Pursue your outdoor desires the right way, by listening to your body. If you do, I’m willing to bet your postpartum recovery will be much more relaxed and the more content you will be.

Little baby steps are the best way to get yourself outside. Shoot for the moon during your season of planning, but take your time exploring each star along the way.

I started walking rather than running at first. It helped a lot. Then jogging slowly on my own terms kept me sane!

TMM Team Member Amanda

Go back to doing what it is you want to do if you are willing and able, but maybe just dial back the effort, intensity and expectations immediately postpartum. Instead of trying to jump back to where you were and what you were able to do before you ever became pregnant, ease your way back in with planning and pursuing small goals to get you where you want to be.

I recently heard about the 5-5-5 rule as a postpartum guideline. It encourages mothers to spend their first five days postpartum in bed, followed by 5 days on the bed and then the following 5 days around the bed.

It’s meant to foster a gentle recovery postpartum and bonding opportunity with your new baby. If this sounds very nice and dreamy to you, it could be a great baby step for you to follow before taking similar small steps to get outside.

If 5-5-5 rule doesn’t jive with you (it makes sense to me, but I’d go crazy!), don’t sweat it. Let your baby steps postpartum look different.

Between my lifestyle and role models I looked to for navigating pregnancy and postpartum activity, my babies were going on short hikes in the hills with me when they were one to two weeks old. I never set out to be a crunchy, baby wearing mama, but that pretty accurately describes me. 

Wearing my babies in a chest carrier allowed me to get outside with my babies rapidly postpartum, as well as continue to do things I wanted and needed to do. Plus, the mere act of wearing an itty, bitty baby strapped to your chest inherently requires you to take things slowly and more carefully with baby steps.

TMM team member Jami’s “Post Partum Returning to Activity Safety and Tips” blog post, she shares some great advice on easing back into outdoor activity postpartum. However, if jumping back into hiking postpartum is too big a leap for you, consider beginning with some At Home Workouts for Moms (Postpartum friendly!) to ease your way towards hiking.

mother wearing week old infant in child carrier while in Yellowstone national park.
My first two kids were born in MT and since we lived so close to Yellowstone National Park, both visited the park and went on short hikes with us by the time they were 2 weeks old.

5. Community Adventure

Something I didn’t realize until I had kids of my own is how isolating motherhood can seem, particularly for outdoor mamas. The factors at play and concerns for all of us are unique, but having a community to be a part of and involved with will do wonders for you mentally and physically.

TMM team member, Sarah Toal, shared that having a friend in the same boat did wonders for helping her to feel encouraged and comfortable getting outdoors postpartum, as well as helped hold her accountable.

I was lucky to have a girlfriend with a baby around the same age, and not only for the accountability piece, but also to have someone who totally understands when you have to stop mid trail to change a diaper, or you’re late because of the million reasons babies make you late, or you have to feed a baby mid hike, etc.

TMM Team Member Sarah

Find your people mama! They will lift you and encourage when the tolls of growing, birthing and caring for a small human start to stack up. 

Your community postpartum may be different than it was before motherhood, and that’s ok! Christine Marie Bailey, organic farmer and author of, “The Kindred Life,” says, “So how do we find adventure right where we are? The answer is this: in the ordinary extraordinary moments with our people… I don’t just want adventure. I want shared adventure.”

Not only are shared adventures with your people more fun and memorable, but they can help you to see the ordinary extraordinary moments of motherhood as the adventure too. 

Mamas have been birthing babies for a long time and getting outside. You may feel like the only, isolated one, but I promise you’re not.

Finding that community of outdoor, adventure ready mamas that can empathize with finding babies the right outdoor clothes, diaper changing on the trail and hiking with an infant is so helpful for new mamas. A good place to look for other adventure ready mamas is Hike It Baby.

On the Hike It Baby website, there are links to connect outdoor mamas and babies with other like minded families, family friendly hiking trails, as well as tools and resources to help mamas navigate getting outdoors with their little ones. Other places to look could be finding (or starting!) a local Wild + Free Group, asking your local library, hospital or church if there are any activities or groups for mothers and young children.

women doing yoga in a fly fishing lodge.
I had the opportunity to attend one of Shannon Mahre’s Girls With Grit Collective events. It was an awesome day of yoga, hiking and meeting a community of like minded outdoor women in central Washington.

6. Right “Dress” for the “Job”

They say you gotta dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Mamas, trust me here, we’ve all gone through the phase of questionable hygiene, little sleep and straight up dressing like a hobo attacked by pigeons in the weeks following the birth of a baby. 

I’ll cautiously say that’s ok (been there, done that!), but let’s not linger in that phase so long that it becomes normalized. If you want to get outside, dress for it!

My recommendation to all pregnant and postpartum outdoor ladies is to invest in outdoor clothing that you like that will inspire and prepare you to get outside. If you can find outdoor clothing that doubles as nursing friendly, you hit the jackpot because it will make outdoor adventures with your babe that much easier.

During my third pregnancy, I was most looking forward to running and racing again. So I invested in some functional and cute running attire that conveniently served me well during my pregnancy and postpartum seasons.

The clothing I purchased was from Oiselle, a women’s running apparel company based in Washington. Oiselle apparel is specifically designed for female runners and I had always been curious about the brand after following professional runner and mother Kara Goucher’s career which led her to being sponsored by Oiselle.

As a big supporter of wool clothing for its anti stench and temperature regulating properties, I was excited to try some of Oiselle’s wool apparel. I have loved the Wazzie Wool Crossover Bra and the Wazzie Half Zip Jacquard

The Wazzie Wool Crossover is a soft, low impact activity sports bra that is comfortable to wear and easy to tug to the side when nursing. The Wazzie Half Zip Jacquard is somewhat of a boxy fit in the torso, but is very nursing friendly since the zipper comes down low enough where I can nurse my baby without needing to pull up the shirt and expose my stomach while I’m whipping out a boob to feed my baby.

Additionally, I also do love the Flyout Zip Bra from Oiselle, and thought that having a front zip up bra would be convenient for nursing, but it’s really not in my opinion. The bra is very comfortable and supportive for medium to high impact activities. 

I’d never used a zip front bra before and do really like this feature for ease of getting the bra on and off. However, as far as nursing, it’s way more convenient to just pull a bra up or to the side to nurse than it is to unzip and then re-zip it.  

The Tall Bird Compression Socks from Oiselle did wonders for keeping my legs from aching and cramping while pregnant and postpartum! I highly recommend these to mamas spending significant time on their feet.

If your outdoor wardrobe is already full, or you’re saving money, just window shopping in an outdoor store may inspire you to go on outdoor adventures. TMM team member Jess Haas recently had her first baby and shared that just visiting her local REI was inspiring and made her eager to get back outside. 

Honestly, stepping into an REI the other day gave me a surprising amount of inspiration too. I didn’t even buy anything, but I was reminded how people of all abilities are getting outside in a million different ways.

TMM Team Member Jess H.

So if you’re seeking inspiration and encouragement to get outdoors, visit somewhere where outdoors people hang out. Maybe it’s REI ?? The local food co-op or even an outdoor sporting event can all be sources of outdoor inspiration and encouragement. 

You’ll see people preparing for their time outdoors and you can join them. Plus, you may find the necessary apparel, gear, snacks or even community to help bring your outside adventures to fruition successfully.

Woman kneeling in a field of wildflower wearing a green cross front sports bra from Oiselle.
The Wazzie Crossover Bra from Oiselle is a great soft and comfortable bra to wear when nursing!

7. Start Them Young

Getting outside with your baby postpartum helps to set you both up for future successful outdoor adventures. Sure, it tends to take longer to get moving and there are more logistical considerations involved with getting a small baby prepared to be outside, but there are huge benefits!

Not only are you benefitting from all those things like fresh air, vitamin D and vitamin N (nature!), but so is your baby. Plus, all this practice getting outside together is great preparation that will make it simpler and quicker to get going on outdoor adventures with your child as they grow.

I speak from experience here- sure getting out the door still can be slow, but my 4 year old is a hiking machine and his two year old sister no longer asks to be carried on adventures. This frees me to just worry about carrying their baby brother, water and the snacks.

Getting your kids involved in adventures early is a benefit to both of you in the long run. A great way to start them early on outdoor adventures is via baby wearing.

TMM team member Jen Gardner also notes that finding the right set of carriers that can give various parts of the body a break is key for postpartum mamas. Her first daughter was super colicky her first 5 months…

We spent the whole day moving outside if possible- she stopped her constant scream the second we stepped outside. Finding the right set of carriers that can give various parts of my body a break was key. I learned to nurse in the Ergo and life was chill again.

TMM Team Member Jen

If you’re in the market for a baby carrier or hiking outdoors with an infant, checkout these suggestions from the TMM Team: 

We often got comments about our kids when we mentioned they were in the stroller/Burley/carrier for “x” miles or hours when we were running, biking, or hiking, but our toddlers and preschoolers had been doing it since they were little babies and they enjoyed it (most of the time)!

TMM Team Member Jami
family of 5 outside playing in snow. mother wearing infant in child carrier. two toddlers being pulled in a sled by their father.
Start them young in the rain, snow and sun! If they grow up adventuring in all weather, they won’t bat an eye at inclement weather when they’re older.

8. Ask For and Accept the Help

OK stubborn mamas, this one is for you: ask for help before you need it and graciously accept help when it’s offered.

I don’t care how organized or tough you think you are, call on the reinforcements to help you get outside. Ask someone to help you get outside with your baby, or to watch your baby so at least you can get outside for a bit. 

Let’s not forget that sometimes before we can even get outside, we have to wrestle our way past our own mental barriers first. Seeking out support from other moms and mental health professionals goes a long way in helping mamas navigate the 4th trimester and beyond, successfully. 

Seek out support from resources like Moms Matter Now. As co-founder of Moms Matter Now and former TMM team member Calisa Kastning says, “taking care of yourself IS taking care of your children.” 

Take care of yourself mama, seek help before you really need it! Mental Health for Moms is something most mamas don’t think about until they are downing in piles of diapers, sleepless nights and the fog associated with early postpartum life.

Check out this TMM post for some Self Care Ideas for Moms for yourself or a friend. And remember, Choosing Health for Outdoorsy Moms IS taking care of yourself AND taking care of your children. Moms matter!

Dad with two kids roasting marshmallows next to a fire.
I’m really bad at asking for help and I am so grateful my husband was able to take some time off after our third baby was born to help me out at home and on the farm as we adjusted to becoming a family of 5.

9. The Gift of Grace

Mamas, it takes 9 months for your body to grow a baby. It could take you that long or even longer to adjust to your new normal postpartum.

Go easy on yourself. Whether you delivered a baby, adopted a baby or are fostering a baby, give yourself grace. 

All children, regardless of age, are precious and challenging in all the right ways that make us grow as good humans. The challenges of motherhood are overridden by the joys.

If your own voice has trouble giving you grace, find that community that can. You are enough mama and you deserve to live freely outside.

When you’re ready, get out there.

Conclusion

I can honestly say since becoming a mama, motherhood is nothing like I imagined it would be. It is INFINITELY better!

Largely in part due to my very active lifestyle and fitness, pregnancy and life postpartum were not awful. I love being able to do all the things I did and enjoyed pre-pregnancy now with my 3 little adventure buddies in tow.

Being outdoors is loved by us all and is good for all of us, no matter our particular interests and strengths. It truly amazes me how capable and independent young children are when we let them flourish outdoors on adventures.

It is my hope that many more mamas seek a life outdoors with their kids in tow. Mamas, a life outdoors benefits YOU, it benefits your KIDS and it benefits our SOCIETY as a whole.

Give yourself grace to get back in the swing of things postpartum, but watch out world. Us mamas are getting outside with our babies and we’re changing the narrative of motherhood and the world for the better.

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Give Yourself Grace: Nine Tips Encouraging Postpartum Mamas Getting Outside After Baby

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  • Being outside everyday is a lifestyle choice for Domo and her family. She got hooked on mountain running in high school, then stayed outside exploring the mountains and woods as a wildland firefighter, and later as a Natural Resources educator for Montana State University Extension. These days, she can be found wrangling her borderline feral children (Maverick (3) and Ruthiemay (1)) on the farm, or exploring nearby trails of the west. Everything this mountain to farm mama loves is at the end of a dirt road, and besides exploring rural stretches of the west, her passions are art, conservation and agriculture. Sustainable agriculture depends upon healthy natural resources and art communicates where words fail; we realize the true value of conservation when we get outside and let our imagination soar.

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