Beginning Exercise After Having a Baby
Mar 08, 2022 - Meghan Pickrell
In 24 hours, your life has changed forever. There is a new schedule, sleepless nights and another human occupying your home. The sweet irony, is that you’re also head over heels in love. Welcome to motherhood! !
Every woman’s journey to motherhood is different. Those who carry their children are contending with a very changed body as well as an altered lifestyle. No matter if pregnancy and labor felt like the most beautiful experience of your life, or downright traumatic, your body has gone through a lot.
The 40 days after the birth are primarily about acclimation, food and rest. Around this time you may feel ready to start a postpartum fitness program. This is an important time that involves thinking about yourself once again.
A great way to connect back to yourself as an individual, apart from your newborn is through a physical practice. You want to begin postpartum exercise from a very gentle place. I don’t recommend hitting the pavement just yet for your favorite jog. On the contrary, think of it as a slow, committed return to your former physical self. Remember, your body has gone through an incredible transformation. Be sure to start moving in a manner that dialogues with your body, meeting your body where it’s at. You may be thinking that you should be doing kegel exercises and wonder when your belly will return to its former state.
Here are my tips for returning to exercise postpartum:
1) Be kind to yourself and your body
You’ve just gone through a HUGE transition and your hormones levels are soaring. Most likely your feelings, whatever they may be are BIG. Just know this will normalize. How you feel now, will not dominate the rest of your life. If your body just needs sleep today, give it just that.
2) Start with your breath
Before you start “exercising,” stack your bones and allow your diaphragm to move in its fullest capacity. This will also help your pelvis to begin to normalize. (We work solely on this in the video above).
3) Get on the floor and stretch
Lying on the floor is extremely restorative. Let the floor hold you a bit. Feel its supportive and nurturing qulaities. Think of how your baby must feel in your arms.
4) Be mindful about how you engage your abdominal muscles
Because of the expansion that occurred in your abdominal tissue, we want to be mindful about how we begin engaging. Start gently and try to connect to your deeper core, rather than your more superficial abdominals. I will guide you through how to do this in the Postpartum series.
5) Take time for yourself while baby sleeps
Instead of cleaning the house or the slew of other chores that need to get done, remember that tending to yourself is important for the entire family. Simple but self-centered undertakings like lying on the floor and breathing are productive and restorative. Give yourself a few moments to just be.
When I created the Postpartum series I thought about how those precious moments alone had been necessary for my sanity. Taking the little time that I did have for myself and using it in a meaningful way was so helpful. Getting on the mat coaxed my sense of self to reemerge. I encourage you to take a moment for yourself, get on the mat, breathe, and connect to your body.
Above is the first session in the postpartum series: Foundations: pelvic floor health. To continue with the other sessions in this series, we offer a 7-day free trial.