Some people can’t wait to get back to the gym after having a baby, but for others, the idea of exercising after being pregnant causes stress and anxiety. Pregnancy is a long and physically taxing process, and while at the end you have your little bundle of joy, rebuilding a relationship with yourself post-pregnancy can be a journey in and of itself.
It is important to return to a routine of regular exercise safely, and in a way that not only helps your physical wellbeing, but promotes emotional wellness as well. Here are a few key tips to help you to start exercising safely and effectively after pregnancy:
Give Your Body Time to Heal
Even if you were exercising every day during your pregnancy, once you give birth it is super important to give your body the time it needs to heal. Some women experience bleeding, pain, discomfort, cramping, tenderness, and other symptoms after childbirth, and while exercising can help to alleviate some discomfort, you should not be pushing yourself to begin exercising where there is a risk of injury. If you gave birth by C-section, you should be extra cautious of making fast or strained movements until the incision is adequately healed.
Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, you should give your body a few days or even weeks to stabilize and begin to produce a steady milk supply. During this time, it is also important to continue giving your body enough nourishment, since breastfeeding moms need around 500 calories more per day than those that do not. Give yourself time to rest, heal, and eat, then, feel free to get your workout on!
Listen to Your Body
Even if you have waited for weeks, gotten approval from your doctor, and are confidently breastfeeding, it is still important to listen to your body when it tells you to stop, slow down, drink water, or rest. You have undergone physical changes, so don’t expect yourself to instantly be able to do the same things you were able to do before your pregnancy. Listen to your body and be patient, and you’ll be confidently exercising again.
Take Baby Steps by Starting with a Walk
Focus On the Pelvic Floor
It is super common for the pelvic floor to feel weaker after pregnancy and childbirth, which is why almost every postpartum workout routine includes at least one or two exercises that target the pelvic floor. Remember, exercising after pregnancy isn’t about pushing yourself as hard as you can, it’s about reacquainting yourself with your body and feeling your absolute best. Until you are fully healed, you should avoid exercises that create strain on the pelvic floor like crunches and pilates.
Once the healing has progressed enough, you can begin to include a pelvic strengthening routine to your workout, which could include low-impact movements like pelvic tilts or a kegel routine. As you become more comfortable and your pelvic floor begins to gain strength and mobility, slowly incorporate other exercises to target the area.
Go Easy On the Abs
Like the pelvic floor, the abdominal muscles can undergo considerable change during pregnancy. Some pregnant women may experience diastasis recti, which is the parting or tearing of the two vertical bands of abdominal muscle as the placenta grows. After pregnancy, physical therapy and postpartum workouts can help to draw the muscles together again, but you should be careful not to strain during the process. No serious ab workouts, please!
Avoid Twists, Strains, and Sprains
During childbirth, the body produces a hormone called relaxin, which softens the joints and ligaments. The effects of relaxin can last days, weeks, or even months after giving birth, so it is important to be careful to avoid twisting your joints since strains and sprains become more likely with looser, more flexible joints.
Yes, we know, hydration is always important, whether you have just given birth or not, but if you happen to be breastfeeding, hydrating adequately is super important for both your health and your milk supply. If you are exercising, you need to hydrate both to keep yourself safe and comfortable, and to replenish your body to be able to produce milk.
Enjoy the Healthy Journey
There is an unfortunate tendency of some fitness publications and influencers to emphasize “getting back” to some pre-pregnancy state through diet and exercise. Rather than focusing on trying to attain what you were before your pregnancy, learn to enjoy the journey toward health and a new life. As you relearn your own body, discover new strengths, and start the next chapter of your life, you may even develop a new, healthier relationship with exercise to help you build strength for the rest of your life.
Think you might want to help other new moms to feel confident and strong in their bodies after pregnancy? Find out how you can become a personal trainer and attain Certificates III and IV in Fitness by visiting PT Academy online today!