This post is geared a little more towards the mamas to be or brand new mamas but hey, is it ever to late to learn something new and if you are a little bit of a more seasoned mamas PLEASE share with us how you dealt with body image, getting back to you after baby etc!
We all feel so different after we have had a baby, some are ready to go “hard-core” all in with their fitness, and some wants to ease in and take it step by step.
Both are absolutely OK but one thing I want you to think about as you are trying to get back into shape, is to not only focus on losing weight!
There is SO much more to “get back to” than just the pregnancy weight after baby. Your body has been through some crazy stuff! Growing a baby or maybe MORE than one! Giving birth, creating milk (if you are nursing) maybe healing a c-section cut or stitches from a vaginal delivery, getting into a routine and new sleep habits and taking care of another little humans needs. Maybe you are blessed with a lot of help from family and friends or maybe you are doing it most on your own – like I know many of us military spouses are doing.
Either way, give yourself some grace and let yourself start out slow.
There is so much pressure on women to just “bounce” back into their pre-pregnancy weight and body and it’s easy to start comparing yourself to other mamas and how they look after they had babies. SO I want to be your friend who encourage you, and empower you and let you know how freaking AMAZING you are!
After I had my 3rd daughter, a girl I knew through some mutual friends had just had her 3rd baby as well. I met her one day at Target and we stopped to chat a little bit and she was SO PROUD to tell me that she had lost ALL her weight and then some and she would “DIIIEEE” if she still had weight to lose from the baby, and she went on to tell me that “mom’s were just ridiculous and lazy if they didn’t lose it right away. Isn’t that WHY you breastfeed..?”
My jaw dropped some!
And after our chat I went on walking up and down the aisles of target with 2 little ones plus my new-born in her car seat that was just a few weeks old and I couldn’t help to feel REALLY REALLY crappy about myself.
I felt so “fat” and “squishy” and I was thinking to myself that I HAD worked out ALL pregnancy – and she had not – and I STILL had weight to lose, and as a matter of a fact, I had even GAINED some because I was STARVING from breastfeeding. Was I “lazy and ridiculous?”
It’s crazy how one conversation with one woman at a store can make you feel so bad about yourself really quickly! And obviously that gal didn’t know much about how challenging a postpartum journey can be, and how different each journey can be depending on SO many different things. Good for her to bounce back so quickly, but if you are not, and maybe it’s not even a priority of yours until a few months down the road – that’s OK. There is NO RUSH AFTER YOU PUSH.
>>>>You made and gave life to a little human.<<<<
Your BODY is amazing – no matter if you have weight to lose, or stretch marks, or a c-section scar, or cellulite, or baggy sleep deprived eyes.
Give yourself some much needed mommy-grace and know that you are enough – and whatever goals you have with your fitness and body – you will get there!
Ok, HOW and WHERE do we start..?
We’ve always heard that we shouldn’t work out until 6 weeks postpartum – but the truth is that if you have had an uncomplicated birth, you CAN start moving sooner. And with this I do NOT mean hitting the gym or even my Toned Mamas bootcamp class! I mean walking, stretching, activating your inner core muscles and pelvic floor exercises,
WHEN you are ready to start moving your body again, here is what to think about!
Know that your body has been through a transformation for the last 10 months, and it will probably take 10+ months to re-shape your body again.
EASE IN. First off, don’t start too early. Give your body time to heal, to stop bleeding, to stop being sore from giving birth, if you’ve had stitches or a c-section make sure your doctor gave you the thumbs up to start moving – it can be MONTHS before you are ready. And also, give yourself sometime to adjust to breastfeeding if that’s the route you are going.
HYDRATE. Water is so important. Hydrate that mama body of yours like crazy. A good goal to have is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. MORE if you are breastfeeding and pretty active. Add lemon, fresh mint, berries or other fun things to your water to keep it yummy!
SEPARATED ABS? Check yourself and make sure that your muscles in your abdomen has healed correctly and that you don’t have separated abs. (diastis recti.) Starting too soon, or doing the wrong exercises can make it worse.
(MORE is coming about this in a few days)
HOW IS YOUR PELVIC FLOOR? Are you feeling “downward” pressure, feeling as you are having to pee yourself when you sneeze, pain in your pelvic bone and hips? Kegels will be your best friend. GO HERE to learn more about this.
POSTURE. This is something you can start with right away! Think about how you are sitting when you are feeding your baby. Think about posture when you are holding your baby, picking up your baby, standing up, carrying things, walking, and every day “life.”This IS important because it can prevent pain in your tired mama body. Think about being “tall” with shoulders back. New mom’s often “push forward” with their belly due to weak muscles, so try to active your core. Also, very common with mom’s is the anterior pelvic tilt. (more about Posture and a few work outs HERE)
PAINFUL AND WOBBLY JOINTS? After my 3rd daughter was born my wrists and pelvic bone were hurting so bad and felt so “wobbly.” I never really had that problem after my first or second, so after my 3rd daughter was born I was a little bit caught of guard with this whole new experience. But I learned that it’s very common!
Remember that your body still has the hormone relaxin in your body that is meant to help you “loosen up” to make room for your growing baby as well as giving birth. This will not just go away but will stay in your body after baby is born as well for some women it may stay in your “system” for 6months.
Now when have covered that, let’s start moving!
1. REACTIVATE YOUR CORE AND PELVIC FLOOR. First thing we should start doing is to reactivate the core and work on your pelvic floor. This will help you to be stronger throughout your body. Your body has a built-in “corset” finding these inner muscles in your core will help you get back to strength and mobility quickly. But it starts with just breathing exercise. Do not push your core with sit ups etc after birth. Give yourself TIME to heal and work on these two areas first.
2. WALKING IS GREAT POSTPARTUM. Put that sweet baby in the stroller and go for walks when baby is sleeping. Or leave the baby with someone you trust and just walk for 20-30 minutes and then add more and more time. Not only will this make your body FEEL good, but you will also get some time outside to clear your mind, get out of the house. Sunshine and fresh air is so good for you and can break up what seems very long days that is all about changing diapers, feedings and burping’s. You can start gentle walking as soon as you feel ready for it, and add intensity, hills etc as you feel stronger.
3. BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES. Around 6 weeks or when your doctor gave you the thumbs up to start moving some more you can start doing some exercises using no equipment and just your own body weight. Squats, both narrow and wide squats, wall squats, push ups (modify against a wall, or a bench, or on your knees.) MOVING even when you are tired and might not feel motivated at all will help you feel better about yourself, help with self-esteem, improve mood and sleep. There is nothing like a little endorphins going through a tired mama body!
4. ADD EQUIPMENT. Once you are feeling stronger and your core, pelvic floor and lower back is stronger you can start adding dumbbells, weighted balls, kettle bells, etc. Start SLOW and ADD weights and intensity as you get stronger.
5. CARDIO. Start adding intensity and get your hear rate up slowly. Find a fitness class, speed up your walks, start jogging, cycling, use a rowing machine etc. Getting your blood pumping a few times a week is great for your mind, body and soul.
6. DO YOU. Every single postpartum journey is different, different between women and also different after each pregnancy. You might feel stronger really quick and get back to more intense training quickly or you may feel like it’s taking forever to get started. You might be ready to use lighter weights right away, and for some it might take months before they are even starting to think about it.
Nobody knows what’s right for you except YOU. We ALL have different experiences with labor, complications that may arise, maybe your little one ended up in nicu and it took you longer to even THINK about anything to do with movement. Maybe you are dealing with postpartum blues or depression..? Or maybe you are one of those mamas who just “bounce back” into shape and feel great and super motivated in a positive way to start moving again. It’s OK, give yourself grace and take it your pace – whatever pace that is!
Please let me know if you have any questions! I would LOVE to chat MORE about this topic with you. What are some tips YOU have getting back to YOU after pregnancy? Would love to hear in the comments.