You just welcomed your new bundle of joy and maybe now you’re wondering when, or how, to get back into exercise. As a postnatal exercise specialist, I’d like to share a few early postpartum exercise tips.
Your body just created a perfect human being and may also be providing food for that human. You may not be sleeping well and your body may not feel like your own just yet. It’s perfectly fine for you to back off of your routine and even take some time off from exercise for a while. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy, it just means your body needs to rest and that’s perfectly okay.
There are plenty of women who jump straight back into what they were doing previously and while that may be OK for them, postpartum exercise should be approached with intention and care. The body has been through a lot, the core has bee stretched and the pelvic floor has been under 9 to 10 months of constant pressure. Retraining the core and pelvic floor and some light walking is a great starting place.
Listen to Your Body
When you add exercise back to your routine, tune in and listen to your body. If you are feeling tired or run down after your workouts, re-evaluate. If you’re experiencing any pain or pressure in the pelvis or incontinence, take a step back and talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist or trainer knowledgeable in the postpartum body.
Prioritize Rest and Recovery
I often tell mommas to stay off of their feet as much as possible the first 6 weeks. A wise woman and wonderful mom friend of mine (Meghan Ratliff) told me she stayed in bed with one of her babies as much as she could those first few weeks. This is brilliant advice. It gives your core and pelvic floor time to recover and allows you to bond with your little one. You don’t have to be supermom those first few weeks, there’s plenty of time for that.
Start with Strength
Aside from gentle (and I mean gentle) walking in the early postpartum period, I tell mommas that strength is the best approach to take. Mom life requires strength. Focusing on proper bending and lifting mechanics in the postpartum period can save you from hip, knee, and lower back pain as well as pelvic pressure and incontinence. Not to mention, you’re spending lots of time hunched over a little one, so strengthening the postural muscles can help manage neck and upper back pain.