7 Postpartum Exercise Tips For New Moms
Take your time
Most doctors recommend getting back to exercise around 4-6 weeks postpartum, but some women may feel ready sooner. If you’ve had a C-section, you may need to wait even longer.
Although you may be anxious to get back to working out, your body will thank you for waiting until you truly feel ready (I personally waited two months until my episiotomy and milk-filled breasts felt less sore). Starting an exercise program too quickly may add unnecessary stress to your body and make healing take even longer.
Listen to your body
If you exercised during your pregnancy, you may find that getting back in shape will come a little bit easier. But if you didn’t workout due to exhaustion, morning sickness, or just the old, “I’m pregnant and I’ll do what I want” mentality, you might find that you can’t do very much early on. (Though I wasn’t able to exercise through most of my pregnancy, I was shocked the first time I jumped back on the treadmill to find I could only last about 5 minutes.) Take it slow and listen to what your body is telling you. Your strength will come back by being persistent and sticking to a plan, not by being overzealous and burning yourself out.
Don't forget your Kegels
Thought you were done with Kegel exercises, eh? Well, not just yet. They are actually a very important part of postpartum exercise. Performing Kegels a few times throughout the day will help to speed the healing process after an episiotomy or tearing, heal hemorrhoids (or ward them off all-together), and aid in bladder control. They won’t help with the post-baby gut much, but they will help you to feel more comfortable a little faster and therefore, get you back to your workout routine that much sooner.
Exercise your core
The core is the area of your midsection that includes abdominals, obliques and lower back. It’s important to work this area postpartum, especially your lower back, which may have been strained during pregnancy and definitely gets strained by carrying a baby around post birth. Tightening up your abs again will also likely be a goal you have postpartum, and it will help your belly to return to its normal size sooner rather than later. A good move to try is the superwoman. Lie belly-down with your arms stretched over your head. Reaching through your fingertips, lift your chest and thighs off the ground and then release. Try two sets of 15 daily.
There are countless benefits of doing yoga after having a baby; not only has it been shown to make you more focused, it actually may elevate mood more than other forms of exercise. The strength and stretching benefits are also crucial during the postpartum period. One move in particular, the pigeon pose, is great because it stretches the I.T. band which runs down the side of your leg and is a common discomfort during pregnancy and even after. If you aren’t ready to be away from baby yet, try a baby yoga class — it’s a more relaxed approach and a great way to meet other moms.
Don't worry about what celebs are doing
It isn’t generally healthy for anyone to drop a lot of weight quickly much less postpartum women. Even if you aren’t nursing, you’ll need calories from food for the energy to take care of your new baby. If you are nursing, you’ll need those calories to make milk. No one expects you to be thin immediately, and few would encourage you to worry about it early on. Most celebs have full-time nannies, baby nurses, and housekeepers working around the clock so that they have the time and energy to workout. So don’t be ashamed of your body every time you open a magazine or turn on the TV.
Exercise with baby
In the first few months postpartum, time for exercise is hard to come by. In fact, finding time to go to the bathroom is hard to come by. Until she could sit on her own, I was barely able to put my daughter down without her getting hysterical. But you shouldn’t have to wait that long to get back in shape. Invest in a baby carrier for walking or hiking, or a jogging stroller if running is more your speed. Better yet, give some of these “mom and baby” moves a try, so that baby can actually help you lose the weight.