Restarting Fitness after Baby

Restarting an exercise regimen

So you had your baby, you waited 6 weeks (here’s a handy guide if you’re still waiting!) before restarting your workout regimen, and now you’re ready to go!! Good for you!

But WAIT!!!

Does this mean you get to go do bootcamp classes 4 times a week and run the other 3 days? NO. (Even elite athletes take one rest day, but that’s another post)

This just means that your body is ready to RESUME exercise. Not that you are ready to step right back to being a high level athlete.

How does this look? Everyone is different. But if this is your first baby, and you’re feeling really frustrated at the fact that you can’t fit into your prebaby jeans yet, just remember to be patient with yourself. First, if you are breastfeeding, EAT. It’s OKAY. Just eat nutritious foods that fuel your body and your baby.

Here’s what you can expect. And it’s all NORMAL. So don’t be too hard on yourself if any of this happens to you.

1) You will be very easily winded.

a. You can get this back in a few weeks of regular effort.

b. Why?

i. Your lung capacity was gradually compressed to about half its normal range over the past 9 months. You will need to work on increasing your ability to move your lungs the way they are used to. Your cardiovascular effort during your 3rd trimester might have been high intensity at walking up stairs. This is not the same as the 2 at a time effort that you were capable of in your first or second trimester. You are simply a little deconditioned.

ii. Your blood volume increased by 50% and then in the 6 weeks postpartum, it dropped that extra load through frequent urination.

2) You may be nauseous or light headed more easily in certain instances.

a. This is a sign you are overexerting yourself. There are several reasons why it’s easier for it to happen below, but stop exercise until you feel better.

b. Why does it happen?

i. Consider what happens when your blood pressure is too low. You get light headed. In the same way, after your blood volume drops, your blood pressure may get a little too low for a little while.

ii. You may not be sleeping enough. (Oh wow. DUH, right?)

iii. You may not be eating the right number of calories. Sometimes you just don’t get enough time to make sure you’re getting your 3 squares plus 2 snacks. If you’re hungry, eat.

3) You may have lower back pain.

a. Why?

i. Your abdominal muscles have been stretched out, and can’t produce enough pressure on your overall abdomen to support your back.

ii. Your ligaments and tendons stretched during pregnancy from relaxin. Relaxin stays in your body for at least 3-5 months, sometimes longer. Your stability is just not there.

4) You may have an increased urge to pee or you may be totally unable to control your bladder when you do high impact.

a. Your pelvic floor is affected throughout pregnancy. The extra weight of the baby, the change of your pelvic tilt and posture, the strength of your transverse abdominus, etc, all contribute to bladder control issues.

b. ACOG and most exercise agencies (ACE, IDEA, etc) agree that kegels are shown to be an effective countermeasure for urinary incontinence. Our “What to do in the first 6 weeks” article discusses this more.

Truthfully, there is more, like your balance isn't going to be great for a while (core strength and joint instability), your breasts might leak or feel painful when you're doing high impact exercises, you might just be really really tired.

What do I recommend for your first week back?

If you started walking during the first 6 weeks postpartum, you might feel happy continuing to walk and adding 1-2 higher intensity workouts, like resistance training or light jogging in the first week.

If you did nothing in the first six weeks other than cuddle your baby and nurse, no worries. Start walking a little bit at a time and add one resistance or cross training workout.

Studies show that in order to lose weight, you need to work out at least 5 times per week. Add one workout in per week until you reach that number. And remember. Always take at least one day off per week.

If you haven’t tried a Stroller Strides class, all our instructors are specially trained in helping new moms regain their fitness. We can help you with exercise modifications if your strength isn’t where it used to be, or we can help you crank up the intensity if that’s where you need to be.

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You make ALL the difference.