Fitness expert, Diana Newton, has a wealth of knowledge as one of Los Angeles’ highly sought after trainers. Throughout the years she has helped many clients achieve their fitness goals. She is especially passionate about helping new moms get back into exercising in a safe and healthy way. We asked Diana a few common questions that arise around the topic of postpartum exercise.
How soon after giving birth can you exercise?
Being ready to exercise again is going to vary wildly with each birth/labor/delivery/c-section experience. Ultimately your trusted OBGYN will let you know when it is safe to begin but that still may be too early for your body based on how fatigued you are with your new baby at home and if you had a proper recovery from birth. There is no right answer to this question beyond when your doctor gives the ok combined with when YOU feel physically/emotionally ready. Be wary of your hormones – every now and then they can give you a false sense of energy that may need to be dialed back.
What is the best type of exercise after giving birth?
The way you go in – should be the way you come out. MEANING – Start with familiar/comfortable exercises that you were doing in the final trimester while pregnant.
If you didn’t exercise during your pregnancy it’s best to start with the basics. Take a walk, if possible go outside as vitamin D will help regulate your hormones and sleep cycles. Just remember to focus on good posture while walking and keep your strides a little shorter than usual as your joints are still resetting. Strengthening your back will be key postpartum as holding your baby and/or breast feeding can negatively impact your posture.
Restorative yoga/meditation is also a great tool to help keep you in tune with your still changing body and give your mind a much needed moment to relax and reset.
How often can I exercise and for how long?
Pre-baby you may have felt great in an intense hour long sweat sesh 5 days a week – but now a few short spurts throughout your day and a few days a week may be the best bet. Realistically there will be many interruptions in your new life so setting goals of a few 15 minute workout breaks during the day could set you up for success. Don’t beat yourself up if your plan for the day gets derailed, just start fresh the next day instead of throwing in the towel. As you get stronger and adapt to your new normal you can increase duration and frequency.
What are the best exercises for your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles?
What type of exercise should I generally avoid?
After clearance from your doctor you still may want to avoid high impact exercises (jumping, running, heavy lifting) for a bit due to joint instability and your healing uterus. Also easing back into your abdominal work is essential as things are still in weird places and the dust needs to settle.
The hormone Relaxin has been hard at working getting your pelvis and hip joints loose and flexible enough so that you can push a tiny human out. Relaxin doesn’t just loosen the joints used for birth — it also causes all the joints (like your knees), ligaments, and muscles in your body to relax and stretch so you need to be cautious of that hyper mobility.
How do I get back into my pre-baby exercise habits?
Be patient and intuitive. One of the hardest things for me to accept was the disruption of my pre-kid workout routine. Your schedule is going to be an ever changing creature as your baby grows. Between all the care/appointments/family visiting/etc it may take a while to find a new routine that works for you. The most important thing you can do is continuously dialogue with your support systems/partner/co parent/etc about the need to prioritize and safeguard YOUR time for self care. Exercise will increase the quality of life for you and everyone around you. Keep shouting that to the rooftops and your tribe will help you get back on track.
And a small warning in respect to eating habits to support your workouts feeling good again – Although you will mostly be eating randomly and erratically to survive exhaustion – try to make healthy choices and avoid unnecessary snacking.
Breast feeding is also not a “treadmill on your chest”. Though it is true that some women burn more calories when breast feeding, the amount of calories is not extreme and for some women who have struggles with milk production the amount of extra calories you need to feed your baby could actually be very low.