You’ve just had your baby and after nine months of growing your little one, you are anxious to start getting back to your old self. Exercising after pregnancy has a lot of benefits. It can promote weight loss, improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your core and give you some much-needed energy! Beyond the physical benefits, exercise can help with stress, sleep and reduce symptoms of postpartum depression. And here is some good news, moderate exercise shouldn’t affect breast milk volume or composition!
When can you start? If you have had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery you should be able to start exercising a few days after giving birth. If you’ve had complications or a c-section wait for approval from your doctor before starting anything. That doesn’t mean you have to and it doesn’t mean jumping right back into your pre-pregnancy routine. Start small and slowly increase your workouts. A great way to start moving postpartum is by walking. Start by making an easy lap around the block and build up from there. Always stop if you feel any sort of pain. If you are breastfeeding wear a supportive bra and consider wearing nursing pads if you need them.
Here are some postpartum fitness tips:
- Start by rebuilding your pelvic floor. You can start with a daily Kegel routine in the weeks following birth. Aimed at strengthening the pelvic floor, Kegels can help reduce incontinence. To activate your pelvic floor, contract your muscles as if you are attempting to stop urinating midstream. Hold for ten seconds and release and relax. Aim for three sets of about ten a time per day.
- Check for Diastasis Recti. Separation of the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominals (think six pack muscles) is very common. Your health care provider can help you check for this at your six-week checkup. You can check on your own by lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted down. Crunch up and bring your fingers right above your belly button with your fingers pointed down. Press down firmly and measure the number of fingers that can fit between the space between your abdominal muscles. You’ll repeat this test slightly below the belly button as well. If the gap is greater than 1-2 fingers it is important to work to bring the muscles back together before starting any strenuous abdominal exercising.
- Be careful of your joints: Relaxin, the hormone that softens your ligaments and joints for childbirth can stay loose up to six months postpartum.
- Cut yourself some slack: Postpartum workouts will look different than your workouts did before your baby. Sleepless nights drain your energy, newborns interrupt your most carefully laid out workout plans, and life sometimes gets in the way. Where it used to be easy to get yourself to a fitness class, it might be more of a challenge with a little one. Try out different options, fit your workouts in where you can, and try to have a little fun with it.
- Drink up. Make sure you are hydrating! Especially if you are breastfeeding. Take a water bottle with you if you’re out for a stroll and drink often.
Motherhood Center Mom and Baby Classes
A great way to get back into working out are classes designed for you and your baby. These classes are also a wonderful way for you to meet other moms! We offer two different kinds of mom and baby classes:
Mom and Baby Yoga: The class is divided into three sections and begins with a series of gentle warm-ups and yoga postures designed specifically for new moms. From there, moms and babies move together (if the baby is up for it!) through a series of strengthening exercises to help you face the physical demands of being a new mom. The final section of the class focuses on your baby and some gentle baby yoga.
Mom and Baby Fit/Sculpt: This class is baby-friendly, but focuses on mom’s workout. Designed to help you rebuild your strength postpartum with a series of exercises targeted to new moms, this class will have you feeling stronger in no time.
Check out our class schedule here.