Everybody needs a good workout routine, but new moms need particular care. Most new moms say they want to lose weight 1join the club, am I right? after giving birth, but that’s not the only reason to work out.
Fortunately, starting a postpartum workout routine doesn’t have to be too stressful, as long as you’re following the right tips. Let’s talk about how to start your postpartum fitness routine safely and for the best results!
Benefits of Postpartum Wellness
They say that if you could develop a pill that offered the same benefits as exercise, it’d be the greatest advancement in the history of medicine.
Pregnancy and birth take a large toll on the human body, so why not use the best tool for healing that we have? Some of the major benefits of postpartum exercise include:
- Relieving stress
- Improving sleep
- Reducing symptoms of postpartum depression
- Increasing energy levels
- Strengthening and toning abdominal muscles
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Boosting weight loss efforts
These are all benefits by themselves, regardless of your circumstances or your postpartum fitness level. However, sedentary lifestyles often come with pregnancy (no judgments!), which poses some unique challenges to our cardiovascular health, posture, weight gain, and more.
We should note that these benefits can come with even limited exercise. You don’t need to train for marathons or mud races to enjoy the benefits of exercise. You just need to take the initiative!
Safety Tips for Postpartum Fitness
Working out postpartum is incredibly safe if done correctly. Here are a few tips to ensure that you won’t run into any issues!
New moms who are breastfeeding should not experience any risks to the quality of their milk. However, if they are exercising regularly and not drinking enough water, this could affect their milk quality. For this reason, it’s best to drink ample water throughout the day, around 11.5 cups a day (2.7 liters) for the average female.
Moreover, this is especially important if you are doing intense cardio in a warm climate. Remember, dehydration begins before you feel thirsty!
Take It Slow
After a nine-month pregnancy and giving birth, you can’t expect to jump right back into fitness at the level you performed months ago. Starting slow is essential for safety as a new mom, so your first postpartum workout should be with as low weight and intensity as possible. From there, you can easily build your way up.
If you’re worried about when to start, it’s sooner than you may think. For most healthy new moms, it’s generally safe to start moderately exercising only a few days after giving birth. However, if you had a C-section or you are still feeling discomfort, give it some more time or talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
Also, if you had any complex vaginal repair or a C-section, you may risk tearing stitches or complicating the procedure, even with moderate exercise. Again, talk to your doctor if these are concerns.
Eat a Healthy Diet
For breastfeeding mothers, a healthy diet is just as important for your recovery as it is for your baby! Healthy breast milk is the only singular source that contains all of the nutrients that humans need for survival. However, if you don’t obtain those nutrients in your diet, neither will the baby.
Even if you are not breastfeeding, a well-rounded diet is essential for maximizing the benefits we mentioned. Your weight loss efforts, mental health improvements, energy levels, and more will see major improvements in the shortest time possible.
A diverse diet of primarily whole plant foods is always the best. Meats, dairy, eggs, and fish are perfectly fine to eat in moderation, but the majority of your nutrition and calories should come from vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds, and whole grains. The more color you see on your plate, the better the nutritional value!
We are not trying to suggest that getting enough sleep is easy to do with a baby in the house. You should expect to wake up at least every 3 hours throughout the night.
However, if you are on maternity leave or spending a lot of time at home, try your best to sleep when the baby is sleeping. If that means taking sporadic naps throughout the day, try it!
Sleep is essential to our overall health and wellness, and getting enough sleep can make a world of difference in our exercise goals. Not only will it maximize the benefits of your nutrition and exercise efforts, but it will help keep you motivated to work out. This is by increasing your energy levels, reducing stress, and more.
Of course, some of us are light sleepers, some of us aren’t nappers, and some of us have a difficult time falling back asleep when woken up. If you fall into any of these categories, look for any changes you can make to your lifestyle that can improve your sleep, and make it a priority, no matter how small it is!
Postpartum Workouts to Try
Postpartum fitness doesn’t have to be complex; abdominal and cardiovascular exercises should take priority after giving birth. Pregnancy rearranges our abdominals, and carrying around that extra weight in the front can cause serious postural issues.
Also, you likely spent more time sitting or laying down, especially in the final weeks and months of your pregnancy. That’s perfectly fine, but it may have come at the expense of your cardiovascular health. This is why we prioritize these.
Contrary to popular belief, kegel exercises are not just for vaginal rejuvenation. They help strengthen your pelvic floor, which is supportive of your uterus, bladder, and rectum.
Try laying on the floor and lifting your butt off the floor. Push your hips toward the ceiling as high as you can and contract like you’re trying to stop urinating midstream. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat for 3-4 sets of 10 repetitions each day!
This is a great abdominal exercise for new moms, and you don’t even have to leave the last position to start! Sometimes called a pelvic floor exercise, it’s easy to do. Simply flatten your back on the floor, bend your knees, tighten your core, and bend your pelvis up slightly.
Hold your feet for 10 to 20 seconds at a time, keeping your core tight throughout each repetition. Repeat 5 times and work your way up to more as you go!
Focus on your belly and take deep, deep breaths. Try to go deeper each time to strengthen your diaphragm, which can weaken after a nine-month pregnancy. This is important for improving your cardio and internal breathing infrastructure.
Continue laying on the floor in a comfortable position with your feet and head on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Start taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
The goal should be to expand your belly, not your chest. Try to keep repetitions around six seconds, and continue for about 2 minutes once or twice a day to start!
As an added bonus, deep breathing has shown not only to improve relaxation but it also helps reduce stress and anxiety. And the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression. While you can’t avoid stress, you can develop healthier ways of responding to it.
Sorry, but no high-intensity interval training just yet! Starting with walking is typically the best way to start slow. Go for a walk if you have the time, walk on a treadmill, or simply do a deep clean of your house!
Once you feel comfortable you can graduate to moderate intensity aerobic activity. You can increase the speed, try light jogging, cycling, pushing a stroller, or whatever you feel you can accomplish! There’s no starting point that’s too small, so start where you feel comfortable and work your way up.
Another great progression to try is walking with dumbbells. Get a good set of adjustable dumbbells and walk around with light weights, slowly increasing. This is a great way to boost the intensity of a light cardio workout and keep your phone out of your hand!
Slowly Incorporate New Movements
Everything mentioned above should be used daily to whatever extent is feasible and comfortable for you. Over time, you can start incorporating new exercises in as you see fit.
This can include incorporating weights, resistance bands, or anything else you need. Read some of our exercise reviews for inspiration and ideas to incorporate. Just remember to take it slow and don’t do anything against your doctor’s orders!
Try a Class (Or Call In a Specialist)
Still not sure what to do or where to get started? You could always try a postpartum exercise class! These can be online fitness videos – think YouTube for free ones – or in-person training with a fitness professional.
For example, a qualified personal trainer or a local yoga class that specializes in postpartum exercise are also great places to start. If you have a lingering issue, you need to see a physical therapist so that you can do some rehab – or physical therapy – to get back on your feet again.
Just remember the important part of your exercise program – really, any program – is to (safely!) just start getting some physical activity.
Enjoy Your Fit Life as a New Mom
Now that you know about postpartum fitness, you can see that working out postpartum doesn’t have to be too challenging. You can start exercising as small as you want – always check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to begin – and work your way up slowly for the best results.
Get your body back on track, begin exercising, and stay up to date with our latest product reviews to learn more!