Congrats! You had your baby. You might be wondering when you can return to some of the things you enjoyed doing before pregnancy — including a steady fitness routine.
Doctors generally recommend waiting six to eight weeks after beginning any serious exercise, but if you’re looking for ways to regain strength and muscle tone after you’ve had your baby, you’re in the right place.
Let’s talk muscles
In order to healthfully begin a new workout, it’s important to understand how your body has changed during pregnancy. As your belly expands to make room for a baby, your abdominal muscles expand while your back muscles shorten. The muscles around your pelvis and your pelvic floor weaken, and your diaphragm is pushed back, resulting in shortened breaths. Nine months (plus your inactive recovery time after) means that your muscles have atrophied a little, and make no mistake — having a baby is a marathon in so many ways.
Ditch the phrase “bouncing back”
Your body has endured trauma from your pregnancy, and it’s important to remember that it will take time to recover from it. Practice patience and self-care as you explore a return to a more regular routine.
You’ve likely found a lot of articles with language that sounds something like “get your body back!” or “lose the baby fat!” — but your body is not a machine, and it needs time to heal. And influencers showing off their post-baby bodies don’t make it easy to feel good in your body, either. The truth is that every woman’s body and situation is different, as a factor of natural weight, hormones, metabolism, personal finance, and more.
According to the NHS, women on average gain 22 to 26 pounds during pregnancy. If you’re following a healthy weight loss plan, that can take any time from 16 to 20 weeks to lose — if that’s your goal in the first place. Listen to your body, and consult your doctor with any concerns you may have.
Setting realistic expectations and measurable goals can help you set yourself up for success in your fitness routine.
Your diaphragm is the muscle that controls your breathing: breathe in, and it contracts and flattens, allowing air into your lungs. Exhale, and it expands, pushing out air. In the days and weeks after your delivery, beginning to practice full, healthy breathing is important, because it’ll help you begin to prepare your body for more strenuous workouts.
How to do it:
“Sit upright and breathe deeply, drawing air from the diaphragm upward. Contract and hold your abs tight while inhaling and relax while exhaling. Gradually increase the amount of time you can contract and hold your abs.” – WebMD
The Best Baby Body Weight Routine
Who needs a barbell when you’ve got a new 10 (-ish) pound baby around? This workout incorporates low impact body weight routines, and it’s designed for you to be able to carry your baby as you perform it. It’s a good starting routine, and it’s quick, too — meaning you can fit it in between the millions of other things you need to get done in a day.
Post-natal yoga can be a great way to build back core strength while also stretching your muscles and relieving aches and pains.
A Full, Difficulty-Ranked Workout
Shape.com has an excellent workout that is conveniently labeled from easier exercises — stretches and the like — all the way to deadlifts and lunges.