You just went through the toughest, most challenging workout of your life. Childbirth.
You’re sore, you’re both mentally and physically exhausted and your stomach feels like a deflated balloon. Oh, and you have almost no time to rest because the real work of having a newborn is about to begin.
Exercise is most certainly the last thing on most new mom’s minds.
Yet, as the weeks go by, you’ll become slightly less tired (maybe), you’ll become slightly less sore (hopefully), and more than ready to drop that baby weight.
Since I just went through this experience myself, I thought I’d share some tips on how to ease back into exercise after baby.
How to Ease Back Into Exercise After Baby
Talk to your doctor
This is obviously a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many new moms, myself included, need this reminder. I was especially antsy to get back to exercising this time around since I didn’t feel as sore as I did after my first delivery. Stitches or no stitches, your body just went through the experience of a lifetime, so it’s best to wait until your follow-up with your doctor before starting any workout routine.
Take it slow & Listen to your body
While it’s exciting to receive the green light to start working out again, it can also bring on some anxiety. Where do I start? Should I jump back into the workouts I did before I got pregnant? Just how out of shape am I? Take it slow. The last thing you want to do is get yourself injured with a brand new baby at home. If you were a runner before, start off with some long walks or a mix of walking and running. Listen to your body. If you ever feel off or like you are doing too much, slow down or take a break. You just grew a human for nine months, after all!
Something else to consider: Diastasis Recti- Diastasis Recti is the separation of abdomen muscles and sometimes happens to some pregnant women. The easiest way to tell if you have it is if looks like your stomach makes a triangle-shape protrusion when sitting up.
- Find a whole postpartum plan for moms with diastasic recti at Building Muscle- 12 Weeks of Workouts to Rebuild After Diastasis Recti
- Or, check out more information from BeFit Mom on Diastasis Recti, how to test for it, exercises to avoid and exercises to try.
Something else to consider: C-section- I didn’t have a c-section, but I know that recovery from a c-section is different than a vaginal delivery. After having abdominal surgery, it’s especially important to take it slow and listen to you body.
- Find all types of exercises and plans for c-section mamas from Girls Gone Strong.
Put sleep first!
It seems every new mom is hit with the same annoying advice- sleep when the baby sleeps! How is a mom supposed to get everything else done when she is busy sleeping when the baby sleeps? As annoying as that advice is, it’s still important to put sleep first. If your baby is going through a growth spurt, the four month sleep regression, teething, or any other crazy reason babies have for not sleeping, be sure to take the chance to rest when you can.
- I love this article from BellyBelly that shares the times you should choose sleep over exercise and vice versa.
If your baby is not a sleeper, like mine, than an easy way to ease back into exercising after baby is to be active throughout the day. You may not get the opportunity to go to an hour long exercise class or go on a daily run, but you can change your habits to be more active.
- Wear a step counter and set a goal for number of steps during the day. It may motivate you to get up and pace around the house while putting that baby to sleep as opposed to rocking her.
- Keep your changing area in one spot. That way you are forced to get up and walk every time your baby needs a change (which is a lot in the beginning!).
- Wear your baby. Find a carrier you love and wear that baby throughout the day.
- Head outside and go for walks. The fresh air will hopefully help your baby sleep better.
Exercise with Baby
If you are nursing it can be a challenge to sneak away for a group fitness class. Fortunately, there are plenty of workouts that you can do with your baby.
- Baby yoga: Find a baby yoga class in your area. I loved attending the yoga class after giving birth to W. He would lay on a blanket while we did our yoga practice. The atmosphere was relaxed. You could stop and nurse or comfort you baby whenever you needed. The teacher would even hold any of the babies that need extra attention. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, I attended classes at Wake up Yoga. You can also sign up for an online Mommy & Me yoga class at Yogadownload.com.
- Stroller strides: Stroller strides is an amazing workout and they have groups all over the country. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with other moms.
- Youtube videos: Fortunately for new mom’s today, you don’t even have to leave your home (or your PJs) to get in a workout with your baby. Check out one example below!
Set small, measurable goals & Schedule them in
I find the best way to ensure that I get a workout in is if I write it down on my calendar. At the beginning of every week I look at the calendar and write down what types of exercise I want to accomplish each day. On the days I don’t get a chance to complete my workout or I’m in desperate need of a nap, I focus on being more active. Now that Sweet P is a little older and can take a bottle, I am going to try to make it out of the house to a group fitness class at least once a week.
- If you are feeling pressed for time, try an easy HIIT workout you can do anywhere at anytime. I often find myself doing a quick 10 minute HIIT workout while I’m cooking dinner. While making my dairy-free, creamy carrot soup the other day, I was able to get in a quick 30 minute workout while it simmered on the stove.
Find a support group
It’s tough being a new mom. It’s tough finding the time to work out. A support system is a wonderful thing when dealing with all the craziness of motherhood. I think I enjoyed going to Mommy and Me Yoga class with W so much because it provided a safe space to vent with other moms going through all the trials of new mommy-hood. It was just a bonus that I got in a good workout.
- Read about 8 Benefits of Working out with a Friend from the Active Times, including accountability and motivation.
A support group just for moms!
If you are a mom determined to keep your fitness resolutions this year, join my Healthy Active Mamas Facebook group. Join other moms as we motivate one another, share fitness tips, healthy eating strategies and more!