What if I told you postpartum exercise is NOT just about getting your old body back? As a mom, there are a LOT of things on your schedule. Learn why you should make time for postpartum exercise, even if you’ve never done it before. The benefits are worth it and could make you feel better.
A few weeks after having my daughter, I went shopping on a Sunday afternoon. It was a particularly warm day for January, so I packed up the baby in a stroller and headed out.
Up until this point, I had purposely avoided wearing “real clothes” because I was honestly afraid of knowing whether or not I could fit into my old clothing. What I saw in the mirror was disappointing! I didn’t like the way my body looked.
Does that sound familiar? Have you been dreading putting on your old clothes? Avoiding mirrors? Feeling like your new body isn’t beautiful?
Postpartum exercise can be the key to gaining your confidence back. Not in the obsessive “snapback” way that society dictates to moms that postpartum exercise should be.
There are lots of things to feel good about after having a baby, right? Your body should be one of them!
What Is Postparutum Exercise?
Postpartum exercise is any form of physical activity that helps new mothers regain their pre-pregnancy fitness. This includes activities like walking, swimming, and strength training specifically tailored to the needs of postpartum women.
Postpartum exercise can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and restore abdominal and pelvic floor muscle strength – all important for a healthy recovery.
Why Should I Make Time for Postpartum Exercise?
Did you exercise before you had children? Did you exercise while you were pregnant? If the answer is no, that’s okay! Judgment free zone here.
Maybe you’re thinking, now that I have a baby/kids why in the world should I start now? Really quick, let me tell you 5 amazing benefits of postpartum exercise:
- Raises your energy level
- Helps with weight loss and tones your body
- Can help prevent postpartum depression, improve your mood, and reduce stress
- Promotes better sleep
- Increases your confidence levels
When Can I Start a Postpartum Exercise Routine?
Just how soon after birth can you exercise? Well, the answer is not straightforward. Every woman and her birthing experience are different. If you had a healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, the ACOG says its fine to start exercise a few days after giving birth!
If that sounds soon, the important thing to consider here is listen to your body.
When To Start Postpartum Exercise After C Section
After having a C section, it’s important to take time to recover and heal properly before beginning postpartum exercise. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends waiting at least six weeks after your C section before starting any exercises.
During this time, you should focus on recovering from the surgery itself and building up your strength by taking short walks and doing light stretching.
You should also consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program to ensure that you are physically ready for it and that the exercises are safe for you and your baby.
Once you’re cleared by your healthcare provider, start with gentle postpartum exercises such as walking, pelvic floor exercises, yoga, low-impact aerobics or swimming. Remember not to do anything that causes you pain or discomfort.
Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts as your fitness improves. If something hurts, stop immediately and talk to a healthcare provider.
Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout each exercise session and eating well-balanced meals for proper nutrition.
Finally, make sure to listen to your body – if you’re feeling exhausted or weak, take a break.
What Exercises Can I Start With?
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The First 6 Weeks
Low impact cardio is your friend during this time. Examples of this are walking and stretching. Low impact exercise cause less biomechanical stress on your body. Low impact doesn’t mean it is nonbeneficial, these can impact your fitness just as much as high impact.
You might feel like you need to start right away on postpartum exercise to reduce the tummy, but you don’t have to focus on this just yet!
One To Two Months
You can continue your low impact cardio and do cycling, elliptical, etc. Add strength training to the mix if you’re up to it! Did you know carrying your baby around is actually a form of strength exercise?
Three to Four Months
Continue with everything from before. You could also try workouts like pilates, yoga and barre. These are whole body workouts that can also improve your core strength and stability.
Beyond 6 Months
You can begin high intensity workouts or resume them around this time. You can keep your low impact cardio in the mix as well. You’ll still be taking cues from your body about you’re able to do. Examples include:
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Jumping rope
- Cardio dancing
So where can you find the best postpartum exercises? I am huge fan of working out at home and outdoors with baby. If you’re not a fan of the gym, you’re in luck. There are many options you can do for free or very cheap!
Postpartum Workout Videos
Check out Youtube for workout videos you can do from home. Two channels I highly recommend are below.
How Long Should I Exercise?
Every minute is precious as a mom, but the good news is research shows that any amount of time you spend exercising is beneficial. So if you can only start out with 10-15 minutes to begin with, thats absolutely fine! You can always work your way up to more time.
Tips for Starting and Keeping Postpartum Exercise in Your Schedule
Get Started With Postpartum Exercise! The Next Step
So even though I left the dressing room that day feeling not so great about my new mom body, I’ve had time to refocus and readjust. I’m not going to focus on feeling down when I can do something about it! I was an avid runner before getting pregnant so I plan on returning to that. I hope to include my baby girl on my runs as well.
Prioritize setting time aside for exercise. Don’t make the excuse that there isn’t enough time or put it off until you have more time.
Moms are always busy. Putting time aside for taking care of yourself is beneficial for the whole family.
Have you decided to start a postpartum exercise routine? If you’re new to working out, let me know what you’ll be doing!
What are the risks of starting exercise too soon postpartum?
Exercising too soon postpartum can lead to a variety of risks, including muscle tears, joint pain, and long-term damage. Additionally, the body is still recovering from pregnancy and childbirth and may not be able to tolerate the strain of exercise. Exercising too soon can also increase the risk for pelvic organ prolapse due to weakened muscles in the pelvic floor. It is important to allow the body to heal and get back into shape slowly in order to avoid injury. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program after pregnancy. They can provide guidance on what exercises are safe and appropriate for your stage of recovery.
Can postpartum exercise cause bleeding?
Yes, postpartum exercise can cause bleeding. It is important to ease back into exercising after giving birth and to listen to your body. If you experience any pain or excessive bleeding, stop exercising and contact your healthcare provider right away.
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