Getting back into post baby shape is one of the hardest concepts as a new mom. Partly because your once hard baby bump looks like a deflated water balloon and you can’t imagine actually looking or feeling normal again, and then partly because you have this beautiful new creature in your arms and you want to just look at it, and then cry, and then look at it more, and then sleep.
The process of working up to a workout is really one of the hardest feats, but as soon as you begin a routine, and start tracking your progress (using an app, no less), you will feel more like yourself, and more in tune with the new body you are working with.
Working Up to a Workout:
Weeks: 1-3 Postpartum
Remember that from the moment your baby is born, hormonal changes cause your uterus to contract, shrinking it back to its pre-pregnancy state. It takes six to eight weeks for your uterus to entirely return to its normal size. Because your body has been through a whirlwind of change in the past 10-11 months, it’s important to take things slow, and be kind to your new body.
- No body shaming! After going from your typical size and weight, to growing and accommodate a living breathing human, 80% more blood and water, a placenta, amniotic fluids, and a full milk supply all in 10 months, your body deserves some kudos for the amazing work it’s accomplished. This doesn’t even include the trauma your body went through to deliver a healthy and happy baby. Be kind about your body. It’s done something miraculous, and although your body may look different, it’s beautiful in its changes.
- If you are feeling ready to move, and your stitches seem to be healing properly, now is a good time to start avidly walking. The great thing about walking is you can bundle up the baby, and go together! Start walking for 30-40 minutes every other day. If you had a C-section start with 20 minutes and see how you feel; sometimes the healing process can take a bit longer in these cases.
- Eat lots of fruit, veggies, and lean proteins. Now that you are out of the “pregnancy cravings” phase, it will be easier to eat healthy. Generally breastfeeding moms want to eat an additional 500 healthy calories a day! What’s amazing is breastfeeding will also be one of the best ways to lose the extra 20 pounds, and naturally contract your uterus back to normal size.
Weeks: 4-8 Postpartum
Now you can begin an actual routine! If you have been able to increase your walking for 30-40 minutes every day, now is a good time to start some of the exercises you were able to do before.
- Take it slow. Sure you are healed, and it’s probable the doctor has given you allowance to start an exercise routine again, but don’t get frustrated when you can’t squat as heavy, or run as quickly — even if you were exercising during pregnancy, your body has still taken a break from muscle growth for infant growth!
- Yoga is a great way to increase your flexibility, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home with either your dog, or your baby! The increased weight can make certain poses more challenging, and it’s a way to help relieve some of the stresses that were on your muscles for the last 9 months.
- Ab training is one of the most important ways to rebuild the structure of your stomach that has spent so long being stretched. Your stomach muscles may be a bit weaker, and you will want to ensure that you do not have an extensive gap between your abs. Therefore ab workouts specifically for postpartum needs is the best route to go.
- If you’re having trouble figuring out what start with, research some in depth programs like this one, that will give you a weekly workout.
The most important aspect of working up to working out with your new and awesome vessel is respecting the boundaries of your body and new limitations. It may be extremely frustrating, but slowly you will make progress and slowly things will start to feel good again. Generally the average mom loses all the baby weight by the 6 month mark, and that’s far less than the amount of time you were pregnant! Any progress is progress. So be kind, and thoughtful of yourself. Rest, and relax. Kiss your new baby and cuddle all day. Days where you feel good, and you have energy take that energy and start working up to the day when you can enjoy a full workout class!