Lately, there seems to be a growing trend of moms getting down on themselves for not fitting in to their pre-baby jeans a few weeks after having a baby. I have seen it posted on message boards, asked about in class and all of the magazine covers out there certainly don’t help. Your body goes through more changes during the 9 months of pregnancy than a man’s will his entire life. It’s important to respect that—you just grew a human being! Your body has changed, and it will take time to get back in shape.
Farel Hruska, FIT4MOM National Fitness director sums it up perfectly: “I applaud new mothers eager to get back into fighting form after pregnancy, but fitness goals must be realistic and respectful of the time it takes to bounce back after birth. New moms need to remember that it took nine months to gain the weight—at least that much time needs to be allotted for the way back.”
Here are some tips to get you on the right track for the first 6 months postpartum.
Month 1: Your priority in the first few weeks postpartum is recovery from labor and delivery and to bond with your baby. Gentle activity is encouraged, but don’t rush the progression. Start slowly with a walk around the block- if you feel good afterwards- go a little further the next day. Pelvic floor exercises (kegels!) can be started within 24 hours of delivery- they will help recondition your core and bring oxygen rich blood to your pelvic floor to help with the healing process.
Month 2: You can generally resume your regular routine, again being cautious not to rush the progression. At 6 weeks, most women are given the ok to begin exercise again—it may be longer if you have had a difficult delivery or c-section. Follow your doctor’s orders- if they tell you to wait another week, wait and let your body repair.
Month 3: Look in to a mommy and me fitness class. Not only are they great workouts, tailored for postpartum moms, but they are a wonderful way to meet other new moms and to help create your village. My personal favorite are Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre offered by FIT4MOM, but there are many other options out there- from mommy and baby yoga, to baby wearing Zumba and more. Make sure that the class you choose has instructors who are certified in post-natal fitness and understand the changes that the pre/postnatal body goes through.
Month 4: Think about your fuel. What are you fueling your body with? Clean eating, especially if you are nursing, is a huge piece of the health and fitness puzzle. Focus on eating foods in their most natural state- avoid processed foods. Read your ingredients label- you should be able to pronounce everything that is in your food. If not, don’t put it in your cart.
Month 5: Think about your intensity. Are you ready to kick it up a little? Or are you still not sleeping well and feel exhausted? Listen to your body and adjust your workouts accordingly. Perhaps add another day of workouts to your calendar, or scale it back. Use the 2 hour rule to gauge your intensity: You should feel energized 2 hours after a workout, not like you need to take a nap.
Month 6: Keep going. Keep following your routine of clean eating and moderate exercise and you will get there.