After I had my babies and started getting a little sleep I began thinking about getting back into pre-baby fighting form. But I had to really remind myself that giving birth is one of the most amazing things a body can do, and that shouldn’t be minimized! Neither should the recovery time. This is where listening to your body is so crucial.
BE GENTLE with your body. Give yourself enough time to recover before you run back to the gym for postpartum exercise! You’ve just spent nearly 10 months creating something wild and wonderful. Of course, it depends on how you feel, as well as how your pregnancy and your delivery went. With my second I waited 6 weeks postpartum and that felt really good for me. When I went back I did only light body weight movements for a couple of months. I found easing into things this way allowed me to get used to this ‘new normal’ postpartum body. It truly is a new normal. Plus you’ve still got the hormone relaxin flowing through you postpartum, and this makes you feel more flexible but can actually cause you injury.
My advice: 1) Really listen to your body and take it slow and 2) Avoid abdominal crunching work (read: sit ups) or even face down planking. These movements can exacerbate Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) which actually affects a lot of postpartum women. Ab separation is also known as “mummy tummy” – the puffy tummy that won’t seem to disappear even after you’re back in shape. A great resource for this stuff is Karly Treacy, an experienced yogi who specializes in everything post-natal exercise and recovery, including repairing Diastasis Recti as well as pelvic floor dysfunction (guys, when you pee yourself sneezing or exercising it’s not so funny and can be a precursor to some serious issues). I recently interviewed her for a magazine article in the works and she’s got a wealth of information on her site and blog.
Phew. Now, having said that, below are 9 tips from other moms about postpartum exercise & motivation.
- Nat: “Don’t be hard on yourself for taking ‘you’ time. It’s taken me 3 kids and I still feel guilty doing it but I am taking an hour 3 days a week to myself now to workout. I feel so guilty some days but then also feel so much more energized and better physically and mentally after my workouts. Totally worth it.”
- Danielle: “Commit and get a gym membership or do something that excites you so it doesn’t feel like a chore. It’ll make you a better, more relaxed mom when you can work out any frustrations or issues in the gym.”
- Elyse: “Set small goals and tackle each one. Don’t be a hero, you have nothing to prove.”
- Deb: “Put your baby(ies) in a stroller and go for a walk, mix in some lunges if you can. Be creative and just get outside and move, you don’t always need a gym for postpartum exercise.”
- Claire: “Taking care of your body postpartum is a combination of a healthy diet, rest, and exercise. Learning about your new body and listening to it is so important. Additionally, exercising as a parent is not only important for your physical and mental health but sets a great example for your children. The better you feel overall, the better mom you’ll be.”
- Diane: “My go-to 5 months postpartum was the 21 day fix workout series. I didn’t follow the program, I just used DVD workouts because they were only 30 minutes long and I could exercise from home while Hunter was napping. In only 2 months I was back to my pre pregnancy weight!”
- Liss: “I started a moms’ outdoor class called Stroller Power because it was all moms and I could bring my baby with me. No gym bunnies. No feeling judged on my wiggly bits.”
- Sam: “Follow motivational accounts on social media like Instagram or Twitter. Anything that gets you pumped up to get to the gym or get active.”
- Kristine: “Two things you need to get: a running stroller and a stability ball. With a great running stroller there are literally no excuses once you’re cleared to run, and it’s fun taking baby along. And the stability ball is a great way to combine ab exercises and bouncing a fussy baby!”