As a pre and postnatal fitness specialist and a mother, I understand the need and desire to resume a consistent exercise program and feel like your pre-pregnant self after growing a human for almost 10 months. I also caution women that their bodies have gone through a major physical trauma (childbirth) and like any medical procedure the body needs ample time to heal. This are my top sustainable exercise tips to help women resume a safe and effective exercise program after giving birth.
1. PROCEED GENTLY– After having a baby your body is in healing mode for weeks. For a vaginal birth that’s approx. 6 weeks post birth, for c-section between 6-8 weeks depending on healing of scar & fitness level of woman. Let your doctor examine you and give you the “go ahead” before proceeding into an exercise program. Please do not rush but definitely start when you are feeling healed.
2. MODIFY YOUR EXERCISE PROGRAM and KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS- Consider your body again is still healing, hormones are still adjusting that affect range of motion, core is weak and most women are sleep deprived after giving birth. Low to non-impact exercises recommended, no sudden “jerky” movements. DO NOT jump back into Cross Fit or kick-boxing or any other high intensity exercise!!! Proper strengthening exercises are essential. Choose functional strength training with an emphasis on CORRECTIVE posture exercises that include core and pelvic floor conditioning.
3. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS– Develop reasonable exercise goals for you. Start with manageable times to exercise during the week. For example, after gaining the doctor’s clearance start with a modest three days a week of exercise at a moderate level of intensity. As you become stronger you can increase the amount of days you exercise per week in addition to the exercise intensity.
4. PATIENCE- Remember the saying “9 months on nine months off”? It takes time for most women to resume their complete pre-pregnancy shape and that is ok, with consistency and hard work RESULTS WILL HAPPEN.
5. PRIORITIZE EXERCISE– Like anything else, if you reserve time for you to exercise you are more likely to succeed and follow through. If childcare is an issue, ask a friend to trade off watching your baby, or better yet get involved with a fitness program that allows you to bring your little one.
6. WORKOUT WITH FRIENDS– Exercising with a group of friends or peers going through similar life changes helps women stay more accountable to their exercise program and thus gaining results faster.
7. SUSTAIN GOOD HABITS- Create good habits for long-term success. See #1-#7
Danielle Spangler is a pre and postnatal fitness specialist and creator of the “Bionic Mommy Program” an all inclusive small group exercise program specifically designed for new and expectant mothers incorporating functional strength training with corrective exercises to rehabilitate the muscles of the CORE and pelvic floor. You may contact Danielle at http://www.bionicbody.com/mommy or firstname.lastname@example.org.