What’s the Best Way to Exercise After Birth?
Once you’ve had a baby, it can feel foreign to try and exercise again. Your body feels like it’s not your own and has limitations it’s never had before.
You may have questions like, “when can I start, what exercises should I avoid, and how will working out affect my milk supply?”. All valid questions and I will help you get the answers you need to feel confident starting a postpartum workout program after giving birth.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll feel ready to start exercising again after having a baby.
When Can I Start Exercising Postpartum?
You can start postpartum exercise as soon as your body feels ready. To best know when your body is ready for a workout, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel completely exhausted?
- Am I still in pain from my delivery?
- When I exert myself, do I bleed more?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might need more time before starting a postpartum exercise routine. If you answered no, you can slowly ease into a workout and see how you feel.
If you feel anything mentioned above, stop working out and rest.
It can feel frustrating not to be able to jump right back into exercise but taking the time or recover is well worth the wait.
What Happens If I Work Out Too Soon Postpartum?
Working out before your body can recover may cause increased bleeding and complications, leading to even more time before you can exercise.
Please keep in mind that your body went through a traumatic experience it needs time to heal. The placenta was attached to the wall of your uterus and once removed, leaves a large wound internally that needs to heal.
If you exercise too soon, you may feel exhausted or have pain in your abdomen from pushing yourself too hard. Be aware of how you feel during a workout and stop if you aren’t feeling well.
If you’re concerned about working out too soon, it can’t hurt to consult with your OB/GYN or midwife as well.
How To Tell If You’re Exercising Too Much After Pregnancy
Postpartum exercise should rebuild the mind-muscle connection between your breath and abdominal muscles. That should be the primary focus in the first few months before returning to your previous exercise plan.
If you’re working out and feeling utterly exhausted afterward, generally feel depleted, increased brain fog, notice a drop in milk supply, or see backward progress in strength during workouts, it’s probably a good sign you are exercising too much after pregnancy.
A good rule of thumb is to exercise 3-4 times per week with the intention of strengthening your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles 3x/week and some form of cardiovascular activity once a week. Walking is a great low-intensity exercise to do on your rest days.
Will Postnatal Workouts Affect My Milk Supply?
Postpartum workouts will not affect your milk supply. It’s highly encouraged to exercise after pregnancy as long as you are eating and hydrating yourself to accommodate the increase in movement.
Breast milk is made up of mostly water, so ensuring that you are drinking enough water throughout the day is crucial to a healthy milk supply. If you know how much milk you produce in a day, add that amount of ounces of water to your daily water allotment.
A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water plus however much breast milk you produce each day.
Your nutrition is important as well. Ensure that you’re eating 3-4 meals a day that prioritizes protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates.
How to Start Exercising After Birth
While every mother’s body is different, there are a few commonalities to consider when exercising after having a baby.
If you follow these few takeaways about working out postpartum, you’ll be sure to exercise your body safely and effectively, which will help you reach your weight loss goals sooner rather than later.
Master these topics and you’ll be on your way to looking and feeling your best postpartum.
Listen to your body
I know, this phrase is widely overused, but I’m going to talk about it in a more holistic way. Yes, when you start exercising, you should listen to your body to ensure you’re not overdoing it.
But also listen to your body for all kinds of cues.
Do you notice a certain exercise started out very difficult and now it’s much easier? Maybe it’s time to progress to the next level. Is there an exercise that you’re doing and it just doesn’t feel right? Watch a few tutorials on how to do the exercise or opt for a different exercise altogether.
If you’re feeling very tired, is it because you didn’t sleep well last night or haven’t eaten enough, or are you dehydrated? Is working out with the amount of sleep and nutrition you’ve gotten worth it, or should you opt for a walk instead?
Stop and assess what could be the root cause of how you are feeling and make adjustments accordingly. You know your body best!
Master Diaphragmatic Breathing and Build Core Strength
This should be your main focus newly postpartum. Diaphragmatic breathing is when you connect your breathing to your core and pelvic floor muscles so your body can bring back that mind-muscle connection.
This breath is technical and will take practice to master, so make sure you do this breathing exercise in the small pockets of your day.
Building back your abdominal muscles is also crucial to avoid things like low back pain, poor posture, and mom pooch. More specifically, exercises targeting your transverse abdominis will exponentially help build your core strength and get you back to your old workouts in less time.
Walking is one of the best and easiest things you can do postpartum for your health. Drop your baby into the stroller or babywear her and go for a walk outside.
Being out in the fresh air and sunshine will feel so rejuvenating as a postpartum mom, can combat postpartum depression, and walking is a perfect low-impact exercise that can be done shortly after giving birth.
It also helps you stay active instead of sitting on the couch all day. We tend to move much less after having a baby, so our metabolism slows down and our daily movement levels drop, which can contribute to weight gain.
Going for a 20-minute walk each day can help combat that.
You don’t need major changes to happen right after having a baby, but making consistent, little changes each day will lead to big results in the long run.
Making time for a walk, sprinkling in diaphragmatic breathing throughout your day, working up to a 15-minute core workout 4 times a week, and eventually having longer workouts as the months go on will set you up for success on your postpartum fitness journey.
Integrating postpartum exercises as a new mom into your life may not look the same as it did before having a baby, but choosing fitness in whatever capacity you can will help make it a habit and a lifestyle for you and your little one.
Start Your First Workout Postpartum
Now that you have the knowledge and tools to get your first workout in, you can feel confident about when and how you should start postpartum exercises after birth.
This is the start of a new fitness journey for you and while it may seem daunting at first, you’ll find that it can be exactly what you need as a new mom. Focus on little changes over time and you will be unstoppable!
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them!