You’re tired, you’re sore, and you’ve lived for the last 3 weeks off reheated-three-times coffee. It sounds like you’re a new mom. Recovering postpartum is hard no matter who you are, and the idea of getting back to fitness can often feel impossible. Even if you exercised regularly before or during your pregnancy, you and your body have changed dramatically since having your baby.
Useful Fitness Tips For After Having a Baby
There is support out there, however, and if picking up exercise again is right for your motherhood journey, we’ve gathered some incredible tips from a postpartum fitness professional to help get you on your way.
Tips for the 0-3 Month Phase
In the first few months after giving birth (the fourth trimester), your body is physically healing from the trauma that is labor. Whether you had a C-Section or vaginal birth, labor takes a massive toll on the body, and so starting slow and starting smart is essential for long-term success.
“Every recovery is different, but we should all start from ground level,” recommends Darlene Taylor, founder of Sweaty Mommy, a virtual community helping moms re-find their confidence and embark on new fitness journeys. “I know we get anxious to get our body back, but if you rush it, you can set yourself back more than you want.”
So, instead of grabbing the jogging stroller and attempting a few miles, begin with pelvic floor exercises, core rehab and breathing exercises. Time is sparse when you’re a new parent, so begin by working on these exercises while you’re feeding, cooking dinner, or brushing your teeth.
“If you do these things consistently you can then graduate to exercises like glute bridges and standing marches,” says Taylor.
An added bonus of starting with your core and pelvic floor? You’ll re-train the muscles that hold in your pee, reducing the likelihood of accidents as you add impact into future workouts.
- 5 x 10 second pelvic floor holds
- 5 x 30 second pelvic floor holds.
- 10 x 1 second pelvic floor ‘bursts’
- 10 x Heel Slides on each leg (lay on the floor with your knees pointing up and your heels close to your butt, set your core by exhaling slowly and contracting your abdominal muscles, slowly move one foot out and away from you on the floor. Slowly bring it back to your butt, and repeat).
Tips for the 3-6 Month Phase
A general timeline for getting back into fitness after giving birth is 4-8 weeks, but every mom’s journey is different and this is a very rough guide. Hopefully, when you hit the 12 week mark postpartum, you’ve been cleared by your OB and have also restored some routine in your days. If that sounds like you, and you feel good about your pelvic floor and core work, it’s time to add some resistance into your training.
“Once you are consistent, focus on balance and strength training by doing things like Single Leg Deadlifts and Seated Rows,” says Taylor.
Taylor also suggests incorporating functional exercises – like those focused on strengthening your back and chest-opening stretches – to help with everyday activities like breastfeeding and holding your baby. Just make sure you’re thinking about your posture when completing them.
Begin slowly, but work up to a Tabata style low/high impact circuit.
- 3 sets of 20 second on, 10 seconds off
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Seated Row (with bands)
- Squat Jumps
- Backwards Lunges
- Shoulder Press
Tips for the 6+ Month Phase
By 6 months postpartum, you may be getting closer to the fitness level you were prior to having a baby. With the great groundwork you’ve put in over the previous 24 weeks, mixing in some aerobic activities daily is now an option. Did you enjoy racking up the miles pre-baby? Dig out those running shoes! Is hiking more your speed? Grab your hydration pack and get out there! Whatever you decide, add on 10 minutes of core and pelvic floor exercises post-workout to help maintain your newly strengthened abs.
- 20-30 mins fartlek (2 minutes faster running, 2 minutes slower running or walking)
- 10 minutes of:
- Body weight or banded squats
- Glute Bridges
- Side Plank Leg Lifts
- Pelvic Floor Holds (3 x 10 holds)
- Cat Cow Stretches.
Whatever timeline your body is on, Taylor reminds us of one very important piece of advice.
“Listen to your body and put your ego aside. If you don’t want set-backs down the road, be patient and know it’s an investment long term.”