When it comes to working out again after having a baby, flexibility is key. Life with kids is chaotic and for a new mom, time may no longer be your own.
In my experience during those first few months, the world basically revolves around when the baby does or doesn’t sleep, with feedings and diaper changes and lots of snuggles in between. So where does working out come in? What does postnatal fitness involve and what should we expect from our bodies?
The first step is getting cleared by your Doctor to workout again after delivery. This typically happens around six weeks after delivery, but keep in mind that every body and delivery is different. Once the Doctor gives you the green light to start training again, it is important to remember to start slowly, particularly if you had a C-section or any complications. It takes many months for the body to recover and heal from childbirth. Your postnatal workout routine should rebuild strength and muscle tone without shocking the body.
I now have two daughters, a three year old and a fifteen month old. My deliveries and recoveries were very different with each. With Lumina (our oldest), I had a C-section. The healing process for my body was slower and harder than I had hoped for or expected. While I was ready for some exercise when she was six weeks old, there were lots of things that my body was not able to do. I focused first on rebuilding strength through my legs, butt and arms before beginning to gently target and strengthen my core. For all the moms out there who have a C-section please remember to be gentle to your body and do not push too fast too soon. We have a C-section specific postnatal workout coming soon so please stay tuned!
With Violette, our youngest, I had a vaginal delivery. I felt stronger much sooner and had a greater range of motion. I was ready for light ab work sooner (closer to 2-3 months post natal) and found I didn’t have to worry as much about swelling around my incision or doing the occasional arabesque.
While each of my deliveries was very different, my approach to postnatal fitness was similar in terms of pacing (slow and steady). I started back after both with light inner and outer thigh exercises, bridge work, a few plies and arm exercises, building and adding in more repetitions and complexity as I gained strength. As the babies grew, I began slowly adding in more core exercises and working harder to keep my core engaged and strong in every exercise. I also tried to set reminders for myself like trying to pull in my abs once or twice when nursing, which I basically did all day every day for a period of weeks.
I breastfed both girls for over a year and found that my body needed a huge amount of water, protein and high quality fats to make enough milk, so dieting wasn’t something I even thought about until they were older. I found that when I began adding exercise back into my routine, I needed a lot more water and calories to balance out the burn and keep my milk production high.
As far as scheduling, I tried to be as flexible as possible on fitting in my workouts. Five minutes here or there while the baby was sleeping or doing tummy time made a big difference for me in starting back. As they each got bigger and my body was more healed, I was able to extend the time and increase the intensity of my workouts, building from mat work to adding in standing exercises, slowly working up to 30 then a full 60 minutes when possible. As I was able to train longer and harder, I found that my body slowly began to regain strength and muscle tone.
This does not happen over night! For me it took well over a year to feel my strongest and best, this time as a Mom! My body is different than before I had Lumina but I don’t see that as a negative. Some things are better and some things, like the skin tone on my stomach, may never be quite the same. What is important to me is that I am active, happy and strong.
Wishing all of our Supermoms and Ballet Beauties a beautiful workout!
xoxo – Mary Helen