For 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.
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.
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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