I get a lot of questions about getting back into shape postpartum. Let’s face it, having a baby changes your life in many ways, including the changes your body goes through during pregnancy and postpartum. I have three kids (all young adults now!) so I know how hard it is to get back into your normal lifestyle routine after having a baby. You are tired. You are hormonal. You are busy trying to be the best mom you can be, bathing, feeding, and soothing your baby to sleep (several times!) all while you are exhausted. You have family and friends coming by to see your baby and managing it all can be a struggle. Getting your body back into shape might be a priority in your mind, but it can be a challenging reality because if you got an extra hour, you might use it for a well-deserved nap instead of a workout. (smile!) To get back into shape postpartum, you just have to get creative and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Pregnancy can change and affect each individual body in different ways, so you need to make sure you get clearance from a medical professional to proceed with physical activity. Postpartum, I felt strong enough and rested enough to start exercising again after six weeks. However, if you had a hard delivery, a c-section, or any other medical setbacks, be smart about listening to your doctor’s advice and make a postpartum workout plan accordingly.
The first thing you must remember is that getting your body back doesn’t happen overnight! Forget all those pictures of celebrities in bikinis a month after having a baby. That is not reality! Pictures in magazines are airbrushed. You have a new life that you are responsible for and that is your priority along with your own well-being. Think about getting into shape postpartum in baby steps! Pun intended! For me personally, I felt ready to exercise after 6 weeks; fairly close to normal after 3 months; and truly back to myself after 4 months.
Chances are you will not feel like working out some days. On those days, do something that’s easy to squeeze into your day. Remember that even 10 to 15 minutes counts. If you can’t get an hour to exercise, try and sneak in several 10 minute intervals of exercise throughout your day. Maybe bodyweight exercises or a quick segment of an exercise DVD right in your family room!
Focus on how exercise will make you feel. You get to release stress and boost your energy. Focus on the end result to give you the motivation to do it.
Remember that exercise gives you more energy to take care of your baby, a better attitude and you feel better about your body!
Some women belong to a gym or get out of the house alone when their spouse or babysitter is around and that is great. But many women tell me they don’t have any time to themselves and by the time their spouse gets home, they are too tired to exercise. So take the baby with you. Get out and take a walk with the baby in tow. If you have a baby in the winter, go to the mall and do laps around the mall with the stroller. Seek out a stroller workout group. Especially if you live in a city, these classes are all over the place.
When my kids were little, there wasn’t a stroller group, but I had the pleasure of joining up with a Stroller Strides group at the Mall of America a few times over the past few years. The Stroller Strides program runs classes at many malls and parks around the country. Check out to see if your neighborhood may have a group and if not, Contact Stroller Strides to start your own. This group of moms was ready to go. They walked at a clipping pace, while their fitness instructor ran alongside them coaching them and keeping them going. You can do all sort of things while pushing a baby stroller: lunges, squats, power walking and more!
The American Council on Exercise did a study on stroller workouts and found that walking while pushing a stroller burned more calories than simply walking alone. Check out the whole article on the ACE website called “Wellness on Wheels” that not only gives scientific research about the great benefits of working out with a stroller but gives tips on picking the right baby jogger, as well as pictures of exercises you can do while pushing one.
Join up with other new moms and get your workouts in. Not only is it great to have support, but new moms are never at a loss for conversation. I remember some of my best postpartum workouts were spent talking about all the details of sleep habits, feedings, diapers, colic, and more
Enjoy your baby time while you can, I know it sounds cliche, but the time truly goes by so fast. I now spend my walks with friends talking about the cost of college tuition. Enjoy the journey and know getting back in shape postpartum will come in time! Remember, baby steps!
P.S. If you want to exercise at home while your baby naps, check out my GET YOUR BODY BACK DVD!
READ THIS NEXT: Rock Your Body After Baby