The Post-natal Exercise Journey: Where to Begin

In my dreams, I’ve created a magic potion to help all postnatal women lose the lingering baby weight. In reality, I can only tell you this . . .  losing those extra pounds is a struggle for all moms, whether it’s six weeks out, six months out, or even six years postpartum.  As a Pre and Postnatal Exercise Specialist, and mother of a two-year-old, I know that there are so many factors to consider when you start the mission of regaining your pre-baby body.  Just as each pregnancy is different and each child is different, so is each woman’s recovery, but what we all share is the goal to get our body back in the safest and most efficient way possible.  After all, we are ALL busy moms now! 

 

So without a magic potion, I believe the beginning steps that will lead you to a successful postnatal recovery are making sure you don’t go back too soon and trying to fit something (even just 5 minutes) in, as often as you can.

 

Make sure you’ve been cleared by your doctor.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is . . .

I have a two-year-old son. When I went in for my four week check-up to be approved for exercise,  after he was born, my OBGYN said, “You look fine.  Do whatever feels good.”   My hope is that she just assumed that because I’m considered an expert in my field, I knew what would be appropriate in the beginning weeks.  However, what concerns me is that this might be the advice she gives to everyone who looks “fine” at their four-week checkup. Clearly, she did not know the fitness routine I was used to or she would have never said that.  I’m a fan of doctors, I really am, but they are by no means, your fitness guru. 

So what should you do to make sure your body is in a safe place to exercise after baby? 

  1. You may want to get a 2nd opinion from another OBGYN, just to be on the safe side.
  2. You may want to check in with a pelvic floor specialist or physical therapist.  Your pelvic floor health and extent of diastasis recti (the separation of your abdominal wall) is what you want to be most sensitive to in your postnatal exercise routine.  A specialist can help diagnose both.
  3. Take baby steps in your fitness routine.  If something does not feel right, stop immediately.  If you push too much too soon, you will set yourself back, like any other injury.
  4. If you have the luxury of affording a trainer, work with someone who has experience and is certified in postnatal exercise.

 

5 minutes is better than nothing at all.

The number one excuse I hear from moms (with kids of any age), for not exercising, is “I have NO TIME!”  I understand, trust me (I’m a mom too!), but I also know that you find time to eat, to sleep, to check Facebook, and to go to the bathroom.  My point is that you make all of these things priorities, and if you just decide that exercise will be one of those things, you will see much more progress, much faster.

        

MYTH: Your workout has to be an hour long. It does not! Exercising even for one minute is better than not exercising at all.  So take away the 5-15 minutes that used to be dedicated to posting baby pics on Instagram, and use it for your workout. I bet once you start doing that and seeing results, you’ll want to do even more. 

        

I had the same time struggles post-baby as most moms.  As a fitness devotee and professional, I used to spend as much time as I wanted to in the gym.  As a mom, I now sometimes only have 5 minutes to get my workout in, or on a very luxurious day – 45 minutes.  The difference is that I now workout more efficiently and effectively. Instead of getting distracted or taking long breaks in between exercises, I push harder with shorter breaks, so I can get the most out of my short workouts.

        

Because I get asked so frequently about how I lost my 30-35 lb. of baby weight, I finally created my newest workout DVD, Sweat UNLIMITED.  It’s a great compliment to my prenatal workout program Expecting More that keeps you fit & healthy during your pregnancy.  Sweat UNLIMITED is very authentic to the types of workouts I did to lose the final pounds (strength training, cardio, boxing, intervals) and is broken up into the different time increment workouts (5, 15, 30, and 45 minute routines).  It’s a great DVD to do after you’ve put in your weeks of gentle recovery and are finally ready for the final push.  It does not require equipment, so your workout regiment is completely excuse-proofed. If you make it a priority and put in the time, I promise it will pay off!

Sara Haley, An international fitness expert. Certified trainer & instructor, ACE, AFAA, AFPA, APA

Follow her on Twitter, FB, and Instagram: @SaraHaleyFit

***PAM is not providing medical advice, remember we are mom’s that are not doctors or nurses.  Use your common sense, and speak to your medical provider BEFORE initiating ANY exercise program.

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