After pregnancy, your life will change in many ways and that includes your body. Some new Mums can easily adjust to the changes but many will find it hard adapting to their new routines and responsibilities. Try and be gentle with yourself and remember that it took 40 weeks for your body to get to where it is now and it’s not going to change overnight. Give your body the time it needs to heal and ease back into physical activities.
As a new mother you may feel great pressure to get back to your pre-baby body soon after giving birth, but then feel discouraged that your body doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. But here are some tips to help get you back into your fitness routine.
1. Take it slow
Prepare yourself to just take it slow, do what you can, and know that this is ok and whats best for you and your baby. Your body has been through a lot during your pregnancy, labour, and birth and needs some time to heal. If you had a cesarean delivery you may need to wait 6 weeks before you recommence light exercise or risk a setback to your recovery. Consult with your doctor and ask how many weeks you should wait before you can restart light activities. Remember to not push yourself too hard and enjoy this time with your new baby!
2. A walk could be the best start
Taking it slow and waiting for your body to heal doesn’t mean you have to imprison yourself in your house. A simple walk outside is a great way to ease back into physical activity. Some simple and gentle yoga routines can be done in your living room while the baby naps. Whatever you choose, make sure you listen to your body. Intense workouts on top of general new-Mum fatigue may not be helping things. If you are feeling a little worn out, ditch the workout and try and rest. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.
3. Always stay hydrated
If your starting back with light exercise be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if your breastfeeding. Getting dehydrated will not only make you feel more tired, but can affect your milk supply. It can be a great idea to bring a bottle of water with you whenever you are out and about with your baby to ensure you stay hydrated.
4. Watch your pelvic floor
How is your pelvic floor doing? In early days after delivery, you have to be extra careful with your pelvic floor. Doing general ab workouts like crunches can hinder the healing of your pelvic floor and worse, it can lead to damage. Instead, choose to roll out of bed instead of sitting up, and take care with your lifting techniques.
5. Repair your abdominal muscle separation
Experiencing separation of the abdominal’s is very common and normal after you have just given birth. You may have had a physiological visit in hospital that confirms this, or your doctor may mention it at one of your checkups. Be extra careful doing workouts involving your abdominal area. You may want to try some light yoga and switch to a plank pose or do variations of planking instead of traditional abdominal workout routines to avoid further damaging your muscles and to let them repair.
6. Unstable joints and ligaments
Feeling a little wobbly? Suffering from unstable joints and ligaments is very common in the early days after giving birth. This is due to the Relaxin hormone, which is responsible for softening ligaments and joints during pregnancy. Avoid workouts that involve impact, jumping, or very dynamic movements. Choose slow and controlled movements instead.
7. Include rest in your routine
Finally, as the old saying goes, sleep when your baby sleeps. (I can sense you rolling your eyes from here). It’s great in theory but doesn’t always translate to reality. It is very important when you want to get back on track with your fitness that you carve out some time to rest and relax in those early weeks.
It can feel impossible when the washing is piling up, you are doing yet another trip to the store for wipes or nappies, or you are coping with a seemly never-ending stream of visitors. See if you can get help from friend or family, or even paid help in those first few weeks to take the pressure off you in having to do everything. Use that extra time to catch a bit of extra shut eye, or use a light workout as a way to get some me time.
Your body may not ever go back to exactly how it was before pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get fit, strong, and healthy and feel the best you ever have. The combination of nourishing, healthy, unprocessed food, lots of water, as much rest as you can manage, and regular light exercise can work wonders for helping you recover and get back to feeling yourself again.