Postpartum Fitness For New Moms
All of the moms out there know that childbirth does a number on your body. Ideally, we all want to shed the baby weight as soon as possible, but it’s important to understand that there is such a thing as exercising too much postpartum. Subscribing to the idea that you should be able to “bounce back” quickly, and pushing your body’s limits, can actually be really dangerous for your recovery.
When should I start exercising again?
• The most important thing to remember in regards to your postpartum exercise routine, is listen to your body! You just pushed a tiny human into the world–it’s beneficial to take the days immediately after your baby’s birth to lay in bed and rest. When your body feels ready, you can start with walks to regain strength. Walking is an underrated cardiovascular exercise for new moms on a mission. It’s the perfect gateway exercise to get your body back in shape, and it can be a great bonding experience for moms and their babies - I actually host a group Mom Walk every Monday, you can join us over here! However, if you’ve had a c-section, be sure to ask your doctor before doing any incline walking.
• Many women experience postpartum bleeding. If your bleeding starts to worsen, your body is trying to tell you to take a step back and dial down the physical activity.
Steps for getting your pre-baby body back!
• Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles that supports your pelvic organs (your uterus) and span the bottom of the pelvis. These muscles helped you push out your baby! Yes, these muscles have become much looser post baby, and it’s totally common for women to experience urinary incontinence after childbirth. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises will help remedy that. Try squeezing your muscles for ten seconds as if you’re holding in your pee but be sure to breathe normally, and release slowly - do twenty reps five times a day if you can. You can also try the pelvic tilt. To perform the exercise properly, lie on the floor facing upwards with your knees bent. Flatten your back against the floor by tightening those abdominal muscles, then slowly raise your pelvis off of the floor - hold this position for up to ten seconds and repeat five times a day with ten to twenty reps.
• Don’t immediately try to get abs! Some pregnancies result in your abdominal muscles separating, a phenomenon called Diastasis Recti. Your doctor can examine you for this at your six-week checkup. Even if you haven’t experienced Diastasis Recti, your muscles still need a smooth recovery, so you shouldn’t go heavy on the crunches post pregnancy. Try variations of a plank pose instead, and avoid deep twisting poses which might prevent proper healing of the muscles.
All about the hormones: part II
• In my last blog we talked about the importance of hormonal balance. The hormone, relaxin, is responsible for softening and loosening the joints during pregnancy and childbirth (thank, god!), however it doesn’t just leave your body after pregnancy. Relaxin can stay in your body for as long as six months postpartum. So, while you may enjoy feelings of being more flexible postpartum, don’t push your limits too far in yoga or other exercises - this can lead to tearing of ligaments and dislocating joints. Side note: the addition of loose joints and ligaments, compounded with the changes to your pelvic floor, often results in flatter feet and a lower spinal curve. In other words, you now run a higher risk of painful lower back injuries if you try to take up running or jogging too quickly (more reason to join us for weekly mom walks!).