Updated: Dec 11, 2019
As mommas, our bodies go through so much when we have a child. Not only do you house, nourish, and grow a human, then you go through the labor process (whatever that looks like for you). There seems to be this rush, rush, rush, to "get my body back" after baby. The goal seems to be to return to being the same shape, size, fitness level as before you had your child as quickly as possible. For some, this process seems effortless, for others, this can be more daunting.
So, your doctor gave you the A-OK to return to your health and fitness routine at your 6 week check up (be sure you have the green light to start exercising before beginning anything more strenuous than breath work or general movement). You may be saying "Now what? Do I jump back in where I left off? Do I start at 50%, what does that even mean? How do I get back to feeling like "me" again with my health and fitness routine?"
Well....it all depends, however, generally speaking, take things slow and start with the basics, no matter how boring it may feel. Slow is fast in this case. I recommend women postpartum start with breathing exercises first. This you can do right after birth; we all have to breathe, so you might as well learn to reconnect to your breath and get your muscles moving and working again.
Think about it...your beautiful bundle of joy has spent the past 9 months, give or take, setting up shop in your abdomen. Your organs have been shifted, your diaphragm (the muscle that is essential in breathing) has not been able to move fully for the past few months, remember how hard it seemed to catch your breath, just walking to the bathroom. So, first, let's get that diaphragm moving properly and help you begin to reconnect to your breath and your new body after baby.
Second, start working towards doing your daily activities while connecting to your breath. By learning to breath properly you will be able to connect deeply to your core muscles. I'm not just talking about your "6 pack abs." I am talking about the deep core muscles, the muscle along the spine, your pelvic floor muscles (which, by the way, have been stretched quite a bit, especially after a vaginal birth), and, you guessed it, your diaphragm. Think of your torso/trunk/core as a box, you have your diaphragm on top, your spinal muscles at the back, the abdominal muscles on the front and side, and your pelvic floor at the bottom. You've got to learn how to coordinate and control all those muscle in the right pattern in order to move.
Once you've mastered this, you can begin to ease into your fitness routine, once you get the green light from your physician. Think about the things you do daily with and without your baby and try to mimic this in your fitness routine. You pick your child up/down off the floor, maybe incorporate some lifting of weight from the floor (start light, even lighter than you think is light). You put your child in his/her crib, or bassinet, think about incorporating activities into your fitness routine that simulate this activities. Make it functional. Also, remember to incorporate your breathing while you do these exercises. Your breath is your foundation!
Be patient with yourself, go slow, remember slow is fast, and have fun. We will continue to bring you information on returning to your fitness routine postpartum over the next several weeks and months. Stay tuned for more to come.