It’s been a long nine months, and if you’re like many of my new-mom clients, you’re anxious to get back in shape. While it would be nice to jump right in after bringing home baby, realistically your body needs time to recover and regain strength. You’ve been through a lot (and will continue to go through changes!), so it’s best to take it easy until your six-week checkup. Once you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doctor, you can start exercising again. Here are some post-pregnancy workout tips for getting back into the groove.
One of the easiest and smartest ways to start exercising after pregnancy is to take walks around your neighborhood. Aim for two 10-minute walks a day, and lengthen the time as you feel yourself regaining strength. If you bring baby with you, you’ll both benefit from the fresh air and sunshine, too.
Do pelvic exercises
After giving birth the pelvic floor may become weak, so it's best to stay away from hardcore ab exercises (leg lifts, sit-ups, crunches, twists). Do gentle pelvic floor exercises, such as modified planks (knees on the floor) along with this move:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms by your sides.
- Gently extend your right foot (foot flexed) close to the floor.
- Bring your leg back and repeat with the left foot.
- Repeat several times.
Hit the gym
When going back to the gym after having a baby, it’s important to start gently with weight training. Work one body part at a time (for example, day 1: chest, day 2: back, day 3: legs, etc.), or use the circuit machines and focus on upper body one day and lower body the next. Use low weights and do only one or two sets at each machine. Be sure to pay attention to your posture. Each week you can gradually add a little more weight and another set if you feel strong enough.
Do stationary exercises at home
If you're not ready for the gym but want a gentle workout with no jumping (after the doctor's approval), there are all sorts of things you can do at home. Try these stationary exercises either all at once during a single workout, or space them throughout the day.
Legs (you can also hold small weights while doing these)
Squats, lunges, wall sits, standing kickbacks
Push-ups (against the wall), bicep curls with small weights or water bottles, tricep dips using a chair or table for support
Get enough rest
It might be tough, but try to rest as much as possible, even if it's just a cat nap here and there. A 10- or 20-minute nap can do wonders for your mind and body. If a nap isn't possible, just relax for a few minutes, sit quietly, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Drinking a cup of a relaxing herbal tea can also help you feel more peaceful.
Nutrition is probably the most important thing you can focus on after having a baby. Eating the right foods is crucial to helping repair your body and to give you the energy you need. Blood sugar needs to be steady, energy up and metabolism burning. This is no time go on a crazy diet (not that any time is).
Make sure your postpartum diet plan includes: whole grains such as brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal; healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, almonds; quality protein such as beans, eggs, nut butters; plus as many vegetables as you want and fruits in moderation.
Stay hydrated with coconut water, plain water or even protein water. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to make sure you're sipping throughout the day.