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 afterward. I have three kids so I know how hard it is to get back into your normal lifestyle routine after having a baby … you’re tired, hormonal, busy trying to feed, bathe, etc. I know it’s a struggle. Here’s my best advice for getting back in shape after having a baby:
1. Get back into shape in “baby steps.”
Forget all those pictures of celebrities in bikinis a month after having a baby. That is not reality! Pictures in magazines are airbrushed and information is misreported. You have a new life that you are responsible for and that is the priority along with your own well-being.
Pregnancy and childbirth can change and affect each individual body in different ways, so make sure you get clearance from a medical professional to proceed with physical activity. My personal experience was that at about six weeks postpartum, I felt strong and rested enough to start exercising again. However, if you had a hard delivery, a C-section, or any other medical setbacks, listen to your doctor’s advice and make a postpartum workout plan accordingly.
2. Take the baby with you.
Many women tell me they don’t have any time to themselves and/or don’t have many child care options — and by the time their spouse gets home, they are too tired to exercise. So why not take the baby with you?
- Get out and take a walk with the baby in tow.
- Do laps inside the mall with the stroller. An American Council on Exercise study found that walking while pushing a stroller burns more calories than simply walking alone. ACE gives scientific research about the great benefits of working out with a stroller — plus tips on picking the right baby jogger, as well as pictures of exercises you can do while pushing one.
- 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 anything like this, but I had the pleasure of joining up with a Stroller Strides group at the Mall of America recently (the Stroller Strides program runs classes at many malls and parks around the country). 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.
- Get some workout DVDs you can do at home anytime — when the baby is sleeping or rocking happily in the swing, for instance. You may want to start with a postnatal fitness routine designed specifically for new moms.
- Join up with other new moms to work out together or help each other with child care so you can get your workouts in. Not only is it great to have support — but you can get in some adult conversation and get tips from other moms. Some of my best postpartum workouts were spent talking about all the details of sleep habits, feedings, diapers, colic …
3. Make fitness about staying healthy so you can be a better mom.
With a new baby it is very easy to become overwhelmed with all the tasks and responsibilities — not to mention that you’re operating on little sleep. Chances are you will not feel like working out some days. This is when you have to get creative about fitting in exercise! Try to focus on how exercise will make you feel and what the end result will be: more energy to take care of your baby, a better attitude, and feeling good about your body.
Enjoy your baby time while you can. I know it sounds cliché … but the time goes by so fast. All too soon, the conversation during my walks with friends became all about the cost of college tuition, planning carpools and teenage behavior!
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