Let me begin by prefacing this post by saying the first thing you can do help your postpartum fitness journey is to be in shape before you get pregnant. This alone is going to have such a huge impact on your recovery and how quickly you are able to bounce back. It will also help you throughout your pregnancy and give the strength you need to push that little baby out.
So what can you expect once you have your baby? Will you be slaying it at the gym a few weeks after your angel arrives? Unless you have some sweet hook up with childcare and your doctor gives you an early all clear, you can expect to be restricted to no working out except maybe walking the first 4-6 weeks after you give birth. While many woman want to rush back into the weight room or start running, it’s so critical to let your body truly rest and recover. Your body is so freaking amazing in what it does to have a baby – she deserves a break! The rest period after having your little one shouldn’t be rushed.
Once you are cleared to work out from your doc and start your workouts again, you may notice that your strength may not be where it was before baby. Woman do lose some muscle strength during pregnancy. This is completely normal!. In those early work outs, really listen to your body and go down on weight as you need to. Also pay close attention to your abdominal muscles. Those bad boys have been stretched out and you could be suffering for diastasis recti. This is where there is a gap between your center ab muscles. If you do suffer from this, there are some exercises you can do to help. Also check with your doctor on this at your 4 week follow-up appointment to confirm. You definitely don’t want to start doing abs with this going on!
The biggest challenge I found when I started working out again was just finding time. My life was now revolving about this precious little baby and because I was breastfeeding, I had to be with him practically 24/7. I honestly didn’t feel comfortable dropping him off at gym daycare before he had his shots so I opted for a home workout program. Having a plan I could do at home was so helpful for me to get back on track. I’d make weekly goals to just get in 4-5 workouts a week and walk as much as possible. The trick was to start my workout as soon as Charlie went down for his first nap of the day. He would sleep for at least 30 minutes so I’d get in most of my workout.
The gear needed for home workouts is pretty minimal too. You can get a great workout in with a variety of exercise bands, some adjustable dumbbells and some steps or stable furniture to use as a bench. I was able most of my home workout gear pretty cheap at TJ Maxx.
Finding the balance of caring for your child and also finding time for you can be hard. It’s sometimes easier to just say F it and not do the workout. Add some sleep deprivation in there and that workout falls down on the priority list. One way I snuck in my workouts after I returned to work full-time was to do my home workout right after I put Charlie down for bed before we made dinner. This as my go-to plan for a long time and it really helped me make some good progress. As Charlie got older and I felt more comfortable leaving him for longer periods of time (I’m not a crazy mom I swear) I’d leave him with my husband on Saturday or Sunday and hit up the gym for a nice long weight training session. In the end, you just have to be flexible with when and where you do your workouts. The most important thing you can do is try to take care of yourself so you are being the best mom for your little babe.
Lastly, remember to love your body in this postpartum journey. You freaking carried a baby for 9 months (more or less) and brought that sweet baby into the world. If you really think about it, it’s such a miracle and it’s so amazing! You can be fit again and you can decrease your body fat. Will you have some stretch marks? Maybe. Is your skin a tad looser? Possibly. Again, these things do not define you and what matters is that you live a healthy life so you can take care of yourself and your family. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about the end result like hitting a goal weight. It’s about living in the now and making healthy decisions because they make you feel good and honor your body.
For those looking for some ideas on exercises that you can do in your living room, here are some of my go-to exercises.
- Bicep curls (biceps)
- Tricep extensions off bench or table (triceps)
- One armed rows (shoulders)
- Russian twists (abs)
- Alternating push-ups with medicine ball (chest/shoulders/triceps/abs)
- Floor press (chest)
- Band rows (back)
Here are examples of each of the above exercises (don’t mind my dog or tiny living room. Just proof you can get it done anywhere!)
I’d love to hear from you! What has been your biggest struggle in your postpartum journey? What habit or trick has helped you achieve your postpartum goals?
Keep stepping friends!