A new baby is a time of much chaos and uncertainty. Aside from the questions, sleep deprivation and chaos, there is the concern about getting your pre-baby body back.
Let me just get one thing out of the way. You aren’t going to get your pre-baby body back. Not exactly. You may weigh less than (thank you breastfeeding), you may be more well-endowed (again, thank you breastfeeding), but things are just… different. Not good different, or bad different, and probably noticeably to no one but you in the shower doing the squeeze tests (you know the ones). That said, there are some things – both physically and mentally – you can do to make the transition back to exercise easier.
Please note, that everyone is different. Though I don’t really go by numbers, I gained about 35 pounds during my pregnancy, was fitting into my pre-baby clothes around three months postpartum and ran a 10-mi
le race at about five months postpartum. I do not know if this is average or not (maybe the race is a little crazy). What worked for me might not work for you, but hopefully you can take some nuggets and tailor to your needs.
- Start Before You Start – Whether you are thinking about having a baby or already pregnant, you should stay active in ways that work for you, which may deviate from your normal routine. Though I’m an avid runner, I didn’t feel comfortable doing so past my third month of my pregnancy. Instead, I became obsessed spin and bar classes, the elliptical (the Kindle never got so much use) and long walks during the final month, which with a 7 pound basketball is not easy! Not only will this make you feel healthy during your pregnancy, but the momentum will carry, making it easier to resume your pre-pregnancy routine.
- Don’t Start Too Soon – Your doctor will probably give you the standard six-week rest before resuming any exercise regimen. LISTEN TO HER OR HIM. Like with any injury, you’ll want and need the time to heal so you can be in prime shape to return. If you’re chomping at the bit, ask your doctor if you can go for some walks. Mine let me after about three weeks.
- Get Some Help – If you like to invest financially in your fitness routines, once you’re cleared to exercise, surround yourself with others who can help you safely resume exercising. I hired a coach who help me very gently ease back into running. Other options are post-natal yoga classes with your baby or a mom-baby exercise group.
- Do What You Can – As a new mom, you’re going to be pulled into a thousand directions, especially if you’re going back to work. Some weeks you might get four workouts in, others only one. That’s okay. You have to realize that something is always better than nothing. If a routine isn’t working, try something else. When I wasn’t getting the outdoor runs I needed, I cancelled my monthly gym membership and bought a treadmill. Now, almost all my runs are done on Milly. Now that I’m almost done breastfeeding, I’ll hopefully rejoin a gym for some early morning spin classes. It’ll constantly change!
- Squash out the Guilt – On an airplane, you know that you’re supposed to put your own oxygen mask on before you assist your youngster. The same goes with exercise. You’ll feel guilty for sometimes choosing to work out over those irresistible cheeks. It’s going to happen. But when I feel this way, I remind myself that my kid wants me to be happy and that I need to be balanced to be a good mom.
Most of the postpartum fitness game is mental. But if you are smart, diligent and flexible, you’ll be back to your pre-baby self in no time.