Our society tends to push moms to get right back to life after carrying a baby for nine months and going through a major life event – giving birth. The reality is you may need more time than the 6-week “go-for-it” when it comes to exercise. Immediately following birth it’s important to rest, spend time with your baby, and to give your body time to properly heal. This time frame is completely different for everyone, so be patient with yourself.
However, once you’re ready to start with some form of activity, how does proper movement support your postpartum journey?
First, it allows you to build a strong foundation for safe and effective workouts so you can return to the activities you enjoyed in the past (or want to start). Many of my clients want to get back to their Barre, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, spin, and strength classes (both online and in-person) or even running, but they want to do it safely. Try starting with basic mobility exercises and work you way up to body weight moves before adding in weight.
While you may be concerned over how your abs look or have abdominal separation (diastasis recti), the functionality of your core is just (if not more) important. Many of my clients reach out to me because they feel weak in their core and they are also experiencing back pain. Try incorporating breathing exercises into your postpartum movement to ensure your entire core, pelvic floor, and diaphragm are working together.
Plus, a well-designed postpartum workout will also help you retrain your body to activate the appropriate muscles and build strength. Building back strength postpartum was a humbling experience for me and I know for many other mamas, but you can come out stronger on the other side. Those babies continue to grow and it can be a challenge to carry them around. Upper body strength and a strong core can support you along the way.
Hello, postpartum hormones. Did you know 50-75% of moms experience baby blues and up to 15% experience postpartum depression? One way to help improve postpartum depression is through movement. This could be a restorative yoga class, gentle walking, mobility and stretching, light body weight strength training, and more. Plus, this provides important ‘mom-time’. As a new mom, the time I had to myself was very limited, but it felt so good to take care of myself.
Finally, postpartum movement can improve chronic disease risk factors. According to nature.com, “by one year postpartum 14 to 20% of women retain 5 kg [11lb] or more of weight gained during pregnancy, which elevates the risk of developing health problems, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease”. This doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your weight or to stress over it, but hopefully this will give you a little more motivation to keep moving.
Be patient with yourself, enjoy the journey, and ask for help when you need it.
As always, I am here for you or check out The Postpartum Balance. This online program is designed for the mom who is newly postpartum and ready for a workout program geared towards this special season of life. At LJW we use evidence-based methods to provide a program that is body-positive and sustainable for the new mom. Visit The Postpartum Balance to learn more.