Easing Back Into Exercise Postpartum

If you’re a mom, you know that some days feel like a marathon from beginning to end yet you don’t scratch a single thing off your to do list. Taking care of another human is a 24/7 job. It’s the best job in the world but the days are gone in the blink of an eye. From changing explosive poopy diapers to projectile vomit, the surprises never end! A few other time consuming tasks worth mentioning are nursing/feeding your little one and the never ending baby dishes and laundry. Even just leaving the house is twice as much work, especially when you’re going around nap schedules and feeding times. I remember my first time leaving the house with my daughter Valentina I was so overwhelmed. I had a million bags and this extremely heavy baby carrier to haul around and I was just wondering how the hell other moms do it? Especially with multiple children!! After a couple of months, I eventually got the hang of it. But let’s just say becoming a parent has given me a whole other level of respect for other parents. We truly are super heroes! We are at our little one's mercy and often times that can lead to neglecting our own personal needs.. which doesn’t help anybody! If mommy isn't taking care of herself, she won’t be much help to anybody else. As a new mom, sitting down and enjoying your meals or drinking your coffee while it’s still hot shouldn’t have to be a thing of the past (except for maybe the first 3 months). Since your sleeping patterns probably have seen better days, that’s all the more reason to make sure to fuel your body properly and find time to exercise, stretch or move in anyway that makes you feel good.

It took me a solid 4 months to really get back to working out postpartum which was quite a long break considering I had been working out 5 days per week on average for over a decade. But sometimes your body needs a break! Especially after giving birth to a human! So, it’s ok to take your time getting back to exercise. Around 6 weeks postpartum, I started by incorporating stretching and rolling newly tight muscles caused by nursing, holding and rocking a “colicky” baby day and night. I then started working on my pelvic floor and TVA (deep core) muscles after meeting with a pelvic floor therapist, which I highly recommend every woman does, especially pre/postpartum. But I wasn't quite ready to start hitting the gym again. I was happy to be at home cocooning with my new little obsession so I found ways to incorporate exercise into my everyday. Here are a few of the ways you integrate fitness into your day:

Walk - The easiest form of exercise that you can do just about anywhere. Especially since you can bring baby with you either in a stroller, sling or baby carrier (or if you live in Canada, a sleigh ride in the winter time). Jogging is also a great way to get your cardio with the babe but be sure to talk to your doctor or pelvic floor therapist to see how long you should wait before starting up your running routine. The wait can range anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months depending on your birth experience.

Dance: With or for your baby! Either way, they’ll be entertained. When Valentina was 0-3 months old (in her fussier stage) it seemed like all she wanted was to be walked, rocked or moving in one way or another. So, every morning I would put on some fun tunes and dance a solid 3-5 songs. That’s how I got my cardio in.. along with the countless hours of walking and rocking of course. Oh and singing burns an average of 150 calories/hour so you may as well sing along too!

Take the Stairs: I purposely only use the upstairs change station so it forces me to go up and down the stairs several times per day. You can get a whole workout in on stairs but that's something I'll share with you another day (checkout my Instagram page for home workouts) - If you're looking for more intensity and want to get a burn on the stairs, try the good ol' Tabata circuit: 20 seconds up the stairs (max effort), 10 seconds rest X 8 rounds.

Stretch/Yoga: What better way to make good use of your time when you’re down on the ground playing with baby or while she’s in her exersaucer, jolly jumper or any one of the million gadgets out there for babies. I usually focus on stretching my hips, glutes and hamstrings since those are always tight. Two of my go to yoga poses to do while I’m hanging out with babe are: Baddha Konasana (butterfly) and Malasana (squat).

Roll: Since tight muscles are often an issue for new moms, it’s something that needs to be addressed for the rest of your body to function optimally. That is why it should be one of your primary focuses when starting to incorporate exercise postpartum. I like to roll out bigger muscle groups like hamstrings and calves with a foam roller which you can do when you’re down on the ground while baby is doing tummy time or playing etc.. To target more specific areas, I like to use a yoga tune up ball, they come in all different shapes and sizes (you can also use a lacrosse ball but keep in mind they are firmer). I personally find rolling the piriformis, hip flexors and upper traps with these balls to be very helpful.

Use Your Baby as a Prop: The workout possibilities are endless here but a few key moves that are easy and safe for you to use your baby as a prop for are good old fashioned squats, sit ups and pushups. Doing assisted sit ups with baby after 4 months of age is also a good way to build their core and help them learn to sit! Simply lay them flat and assist them to a seated position while pulling them up by the hands.

These are all great ways to incorporate fitness with baby by your side. No babysitter or gym membership required. However, when your body has recovered and YOU feel ready to get back to the gym or whatever sports/physical activity you love, do it! Be sure to get cleared for exercise by your doctor first. It’s important to get out of the house and have some time away from the baby and give the baby a chance to spend alone time with dad or another other family member or friend for your own sanity and for the baby’s well being. For some people, that might be as soon as a month or maybe you’ll need more time like I did and start back up into a routine closer to 4 months or longer. The important thing to remember is that you want to start off light and slowly build your intensity back up. Be sure to focus on what your body needs postpartum like stretching and working your core and pelvic floor. In the meantime, try out some of these fun ways to incorporate fitness at home.

I hope I have inspired you to move and have given you some ideas to integrate fitness into your everyday life. I’ll be sharing all sorts of workouts and yoga sequences that you can do in the comfort of your own home via my Instagram page and in future blog posts so start tuned mamas!