After having a baby, it can feel a bit like...ok...what do I do with myself now?
What postpartum exercises are safe and manageable? How do I fit them into my new, unpredictable schedule?
I have a Youtube channel that demonstrates some exercises you can do with baby in tow. But it obviously depends on a few things first
Most doctors are accustomed to opening the gates of clearance at 6-8 weeks postpartum. Many times that’s interpreted by new mothers as “Oh-OK! I can jump back into my 1-hour yoga class,” or “Yay! I’ve been cleared to go back to CrossFit now!”
I always joke that half of my job is encouraging people to be more active. And the other half is encouraging people to pace themselves. You may feel great postpartum. You may have none of the complications mentioned above. But the changes to your body aren’t nearly as visible as they were when you were pregnant. A lot is still happening behind the scenes.
Regardless of what form your labor and delivery took (C-Section, VBAC, vaginal) your pelvis was affected by the months of pressure. Pelvic health therapists look at your whole body, not just your pelvis. Even if you see a therapist only once for an evaluation, they can help. You can figure out the smartest starting point for your postpartum fitness journey. Seeing a pelvic health PT postpartum is part of standard maternity care in some parts of the world.
I had a teacher say one time “once postpartum, always postpartum”. If you are 1 day postpartum vs. 3-5 years postpartum there are different ways of approaching exercise. Both in your pelvic floor and in your deep core.
It takes about 4 months postpartum for joints and ligaments to resume their strength. This timeline takes longer if breastfeeding. So, you don’t want to overload your muscles when their supportive ligaments aren’t at their full capacity yet. You wouldn’t put a quarterback on the field without his teammates.
After having a C-section it takes about 6 months for your abdominal fascia to regain 73-93% of its pre-pregnancy strength.
I always recommend starting your postpartum fitness by getting your brain to connect with your deep core muscles. That’s why the Train4Birth program is designed in such a way that you can recycle the movements. Start from the beginning of the course help your deep core heal safely. It helps to practice these movements prenatally. So that when you are sleep-deprived and have a new tiny human on your hands... you aren’t also tasked with learning something new. It may feel different, but you can revert to muscle memory!
Its gentle, natural, affordable, mind-clearing, and, can be done while wearing baby. Start with flat surfaces and shorter 10-minute distances. Then, gradually build-up, adding 1-5 minutes a day until you are to at least 30 minutes a day.
If yoga is your jam, then I like to recommend that moms stick with instructors who are trained to be mindful of all stages of motherhood. It’s such a great form of exercise. It moves your body into different planes. It can be done while the baby is napping. It encourages both stretching and strengthening. Plus, being in a room with other mothers who are in all stages of their journey can be a nice source of community and connection. And, in general, prenatal classes will have many of the same considerations applied to postpartum mothers. Some of these considerations include:
As your baby grows and their demands change, your workout lengths and intensities will adapt too. It may feel exasperating to do only 2 minutes of exercising before a crying baby or clambering toddler requests your attention. But, 2 minutes is better than no minutes.
But if you have a toddler, there are a zillion things you can do to play with them, and move your body too. At the sandbox, on the playground, or while rolling trucks back and forth.
Being intentional about how you navigate fitness and health postpartum is self-respect. It helps prevent your future self from having incontinence, prolapse, discomfort, and injury.
Feel free to reach out at [email protected] if you have any questions about what to do or where to get started!
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