Congratulations are in store. Life as we know it has changed and hopefully you have found some time to marvel at your recent accomplishment – bringing new life into this world! The arrival of your little one is no small feat. They compare pregnancy and childbirth to the equivalent of running a marathon. If you’re able to say you’ve done both, now you may decide if that statement is valid; personally I found running marathons to be a little easier!
First things first – this is not a fitness plan. As a new mom who has spent close to two decades working in health & wellness, I want to chat with you about how to approach your postpartum fitness routine. Too often our eagerness to see results will steer us in the wrong direction. I’m all for getting what you want out of life so let’s cover 10 tips to get you on the path to feeling good and finding your fitness routine postpartum.
#1 Be Patient! This is probably the most important tip of all. If there is any time to be patient, it’s your first 6 weeks postpartum. If you are eager to jump back into a fitness program, recognize the importance to give your body time to heal. Regardless of the intensity of your labor or how you delivered, you should not ‘test’ or experiment with exercise prior to clearance from you doctor or midwife. Enjoy extra snuggles with your little one and trust the day to return to exercise will arrive sooner than expected.
#2 DO YOU! Try your best to focus solely on you and your needs for today. It’s awe-inspiring to see how some moms get right back into their fitness routine, but every woman is different. Be proud of where you are and as much as possible, avoid comparison with your fitness and postpartum body.
#3 Establish Good Habits Think twice before committing to a rigorous fitness routine. With more on your plate, be reasonable with what you will be able to commit to. There are the outliers who may be able to jump right back in, kudos if that’s you. Otherwise focus on establishing 1-3 healthy habits per week and strive for consistency with your workouts. This will support natural progression to build a fitness foundation from the ground up!
#4 Eating + Hydrating + Sleeping With most of your focus now on your baby, gone are the days of enjoying 7+ hours of consecutive sleep, or eating meals when you want. Try your best to remain mindful with all three. What we eat, how much we sleep and hydration play a large role in our ability to get in a good workout. Do the best you can and some days getting in a nap may overrule your sweat session!
#5 OPA! Organize -> Prioritize -> Adjust According. Just like you have organized the nursery, now it’s time to organize and prioritize your needs! By getting organized this includes setting out your workout clothes and having an idea of when you will be able to squeeze in a sweat. Prioritizing may mean saving the dirty laundry for another day. Baby’s can be unpredictable therefore despite your ability to organize and prioritize, be willing to adjust your sails. If the day gets flipped upside down, give yourself some grace! Acknowledge you’re doing the best you can and adjust accordingly.
#6 Some is Better Than Than! Whether you’re a first time mom or you have three little ones, the meaning of TIME has its own wikipedia definition when you have a child. Capitalize where you can and embrace the philosophy that “some is better than none!” While getting to a yoga or spin class would be awesome, it involves drive time and finding a sitter. On days you have only 15 minutes, find a workout video on YouTube or On-Demand and enjoy your workout in the comfort of your home.
#7 Support Counts There is no need to go at it alone — especially when it comes to finding your fitness routine as a mom. Try your best to not isolate yourself. Motherhood is wonderful but caring for a newborn can be lonely at times. Call up a friend and see if they are interested in joining you for a walk or check if your community has a “Mommy and baby” walking group. If you don’t have the luxury to get out of the house, there are some great online mom-focused fitness communities to help support you.
#8 It’s OK to Experience Frustration! You finally make it to your favorite fitness class only to experience frustration in trying to keep up. Feeling frustrated is normal. Even when you’re in the best shape of your life, you may experience frustration. Take a moment to access why you’re frustrated. Ask yourself, am I being reasonable with my expectations? Then focus on what you did well! “I did 10 burpees,” or “I did not have time to workout today, but I finished my work assignment and will get my walk in tomorrow.”
#9 Mom Guilt Yes it’s a thing. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, or work a 40+ hour a week job, it’s inevitable at some point to feel “mom guilt” when you do something without your baby. However, keep in mind the countless health benefits exercise can provide and blood flow to the brain is one of the best. Trust that taking a little “you time” will lead to being a better mom, and do not let mom guilt hold you back from getting in a sweat session.
#10 NEW YOU! Rome wasn’t built in a day. You spent 9+ months growing a child therefore be reasonable with your goals post baby. Take into account your fitness routine pre-pregnancy, as well as how active you were during your pregnancy, but do not get stuck over-comparing where you are currently to your old self. Enjoy a fresh start! Keep track of your progress and have faith that the NEW YOU is and will be better than the past.