The Truth About Exercising After Having a Baby

Mom walking with baby in strollerFor all nine months of your pregnancy, there’s no shortage of information on every aspect of being a mama-to-be. From symptoms, cravings, and gender prediction, to prenatal exercise, and birthing classes -- whatever you can think of, you can research and learn about. 

But what about after you have your baby? Don’t forget that while you’re getting used to your new role as a mom, you still need to take care of yourself! Here are a few tips for getting back into working out after having baby.

Of course you’ll want to wait until your six-week postpartum check-up before beginning any workout routine in earnest, but you can speak to your doctor or midwife before you give birth to get his or her opinion on what would be safe for you to resume before that check-up takes place. Your doctor will have knowledge on what you’re doing for prenatal exercise, as well as any specific limitations your body may have following birth. Remember, just as every pregnancy is different, so is every postpartum recovery, so always check with your doctor before beginning to exercise again. 

Photo of mom with stroller and text 'Dos and Donts of Postpartum Exercise'

In most cases, walking is a great way to ease back into exercising after giving birth. It can be great bonding time with your new baby as well, either with baby in a stroller, or using one of the awesome slings, or other option for baby-wearing available now. Start slow, and try to pick a route that will give you access to a place to sit down and rest should you need to take a break. You'll want to build up your walking time slowly, but this is a great way to resume your exercise routine while your body is healing.

More From The Stir: Stop Doing These Exercises If You're Pregnant

It’s super important to remember that pelvic floor exercises like Kegels aren’t just for pregnancy. Start doing those exercises again as soon as you can after giving birth, so you can avoid (or at least, minimize) the dreaded ‘leak’ during exercise after baby. While you’re at it, start doing some simple abdominal exercises, like contracting your abdominals as you breathe in  -- think about pulling your belly button in towards your spine -- and relaxing as you breathe out. Unless you had a C-section, your doctor will probably also okay trying plank exercises, which you can really take advantage of by doing Kegels and contracting your abdominal muscles while you plank.

Other exercises which may be okay for you, depending on your birth experience, and how active you were during your pregnancy, include push ups, and using resistance bands for light rowing. Stretching and some gentle yoga can be great, but bear in mind that you will still have joint laxity leftover from pregnancy hormones, so be careful you’re not extending yourself beyond what your normal range of motion would be.

A few types of exercises should definitely be avoided while you wait for your postpartum checkup. Swimming is generally off-limits, because of the risk of infection while you’re still recovering from birth. Heavy lifting is also a no-no, even if you were lifting during pregnancy! (Take it from someone who tried lifting a stroller up a flight of stairs a week postpartum, thinking it didn’t count as heavy lifting -- ouch!). Exercises like lunges or split squats will most likely be too taxing on your joints right away as well.

Respect that your body needs some time to recover from birth, as well as from all the changes its been through over your pregnancy. The only pressure you should put on yourself when it comes to exercise right after having your baby is to keep yourself feeling good, and healthy. Enjoy your new little bundle of joy, and the wonderful body that made it happen!

When did you start exercising again after having your baby? 

 

Images via Carly Pizzani

 

exercise, healthy habits

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nonmember avatar Shannon

Running 3 weeks after having twins. I lost 60 lbs in 2 months. Now, I just can't seem to lose that last 10...

Angie... AngieHayes

Breastfeeding and walking was the best thing for me. I too had trouble losing the last 5-8lbs, then I got sick with the flu and barfed a wholed day, that worked for those extra pounds!

Shari Ryan

Exercise for the mind is important too :)

Great article! After suffering with PPD for months, I finally realized that I needed a mental escape during the day. I began to write, and it became my saving grace. Not only did writing give my mind a mommy break during the day, but I accomplished my dream of becoming an author. I agree that it is so important not to forget about yourself after having a baby. A healthy mommy makes for a happy and healthy baby. :)

Author Shari J. Ryan
www.sharijryan.com
Author of the Schasm Series

BeFit... BeFit-Mom

All new moms should start with specialized postpartum core conditioning exercises such as abdominal compressions, abdominal compressions with pelvic tilt (Belly Scooping), heel slides, singel toe taps, etc.


Google my screen name for more info.


BeFit-Mom

Susie Mitchell

I was back on my bike three weeks after having my baby by c-section. The best advice for any woman out there is go on feel - if it feels OK and you feel up for it - well you probably are! The advice given above is very conservative and is a good catch all for women who aren't really sporty - however some women just need a bit more confidence and encouragement to get back to their sport and they need to know its OK to go for it if they feel up for it!

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