As a pre and post-natal fitness specialist and apprentice lactation consultant, I see my fair share of new moms. Sometimes they are women who worked out with me during their pregnancy, sometimes they’re women who sought me out for breastfeeding support, or sometimes they’re women who are looking for a way to be active that allows them to bring their new baby along. Almost always they come to me asking for help to “get their body back.”
Once you’ve recovered from birth and have been given clearance by your care provider, it is safe for most women to ease back into an exercise routine. Many care providers recommend that postpartum women work with a trained Pre and Post Natal Fitness Specialist, specializing in the mechanics of the postpartum body. Seek out someone who understands the physical, hormonal and emotional changes that pregnancy, birth, and lactation bring.
Starting A Post-Baby Workout Program
When starting a post-baby workout program, moms need to consider physical changes such as abdominal separation, vaginal prolapse, bladder weakness and hypermobility in the joints as well as postural imbalances. Psychologically we should be aware of a possible disconnect from the pelvic floor or core and an urge to avoid moving through certain movement patterns, particularly if there was birth trauma. For example, a mom who experienced an emergency cesarean section may struggle psychologically with an exercise that has her lying on her back or experiencing intense sensation through the core. A woman who suffered vaginal tearing may resist squats or lunges that force her to open her legs wider than hip width apart.
I like to remind new moms to go easy on themselves. Often they come to me with the goal of getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight or fitting into their skinny jeans. They come to a class and talk about what they used to be able to do before they became pregnant and brought their babies into the world. Sometimes they even apologize to me if they can’t hold a plank for longer than a few seconds as if they feel I’ll be disappointed in them. They get nostalgic for the body they used to know. My advice to these women is always this:
Be kind to yourself – you just made a human!
Please, take a moment to reflect on the incredibility of what your body has just achieved. You CAN get back to your pre-pregnancy weight, and you WILL one day wear skinny jeans again. In the meantime, give thanks to your body for its strength, stamina, and adaptability that allowed you to become pregnant, create a life, house a baby and bring it “Earthside.” While your new shape may not be as firm or perky as your old one, this body gave life, gives comfort, and tells a story of love. And that is beautiful.