“It’s time to get my pre-pregnancy body back, BUT…”
OK, that’s understandable. Every new mom has a big “but” – an excuse, that is. You’re tired; you’re breastfeeding; you can’t pull yourself away from your sweet new wee one; or you can’t fit into your exercise clothes. More important than WHEN you start exercising, is THAT you start exercising. When you start depends on several factors, including your activity level before and during pregnancy, how you are feeling, and most importantly, your doctor’s approval. As you get started, Shawnee Mission Health offers these tips and words of encouragement:
Tips and modifications
- Unless you were in athletic-status shape prior to and during pregnancy, start gradually with a beginner’s routine. Each week, walk more briskly, add reps to your weight routine and add 10 minutes to your workout.
- Breastfeeding calls for special consideration when exercising. Wear extra supportive bras. Exercise after feeding/pumping to avoid discomfort and engorged breasts. Avoid lying on your stomach and exercises that jar your chest, like jump squats and burpees.
- Postpartum incontinence is a real thing. The good news? It gets better. The bad news? Running and jumping are no-nos during this time. Substitute squats for jumping jacks, planks for mountain climbers and brisk walking for running.
- The hormones that cause your ligaments and joints to soften during pregnancy can stay in your body for up to six months postpartum, or for as long as you are breastfeeding, causing wobbly, unstable joints and a loose pelvis. Stay away from exercises that are jerky and quick. Don’t overstretch.
- Your abdominal muscles have taken a hit. Don’t overdo it. Choose planks and variations of planks over crunches. Gradually work up to a full plank, first leaning against a counter or sturdy piece of furniture, then taking it to the floor as you regain your core strength. Front and side planks can be done on your knees, progressing to a full plank position on your toes and forearms.
Going the distance
- Manage your expectations. Your body has undergone a massive transformation over a nine-month period. Allow yourself 6 to 12 months to get back in shape, depending on your pre-pregnancy level of fitness.
- Be realistic about your weight loss. About one pound per week is a safe amount of weight to lose postpartum and will not affect your milk supply.
- If breastfeeding, you’re already eating healthy to maximize your baby’s nutrition. Keep it up. Crash diets can sabotage your long-term goals. Make healthy choices daily and it will become a life-long habit.
- New moms report the biggest deterrent to exercise is finding time. Making your workout fun helps make it a priority. Check out Johnson County Park & Recreation District or local fitness facilities for support groups and classes tailored to your needs. Explore apps, such as iSWEAT 2 the BEAT, that are designed to personalize your workout.
- It is easy to be over-motivated at first. Keep the focus on doing something active every day. It could be 10 minutes, or 60, and you will likely get derailed and interrupted on a regular basis, but keep moving and stay positive.
- Finally, make fitness a lifestyle and train like there’s no finish line. It won’t be long until your little one will be running. You’ll want to keep up. And you’ll want your legacy to be that you were an active, healthy and engaged mom.
For more, check out Shawnee Mission Health’s support groups and fitness classes: