Returning to weightlifting after baby seems simple, right? You were active before, this is a familiar exercise and familiar movements, so it should be easy. You may be thinking, "I can just start at a lower weight or lower reps and I'll be ok. I was fit and strong before and during my pregnancy, so getting back to lifting should be easy."
If you were active before and during pregnancy, yes, it should be easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy exercise routine, however, you want to be sure you are building your strength slowly and with a solid foundation. By doing this, slow, steady strength building, you can prevent many of the common injuries, pains that we see in the postpartum period, and you can prevent long term effects of progressing too quickly.
As we talked in previous posts, after giving birth, no matter what your birth story is, you should focus on reconnecting mind, body, breath. Relearning how to breath and expand through your chest, ribcage, and abdomen to get a full breath. Once you are comfortable with a 360 degree breath, then you can start to work on deep abdominal work to help retrain your whole body and whole core. This will help you build enough strength to be able to add additional loads and pressure with your exercise routine.
Here are some of my favorite exercises to start to rebuild your foundation as you recover from pregnancy and childbirth. Now, keep in mind, that these exercises may be too easy for some and more challenging for others, depending on your pre-pregnancy activity, pregnancy and delivery method, and how your body has recovered from childbirth. Check in with your healthcare providers if you have any concerns. You may also opt to see a women's health physical therapist to get you started on the best track for your individual needs.
1. Pelvic tilt
Lying on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat, think about rocking your hips to make your hip bones touch your rib cage. You can also think about drawing your hip bones together gently. There should be very little movement in the pelvis and you should not feel your glutei working during this exercise. Hold for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 10-15 reps of this exercise, or set a timer and go for about 2 minutes with hold and relax throughout.
2. Abdominal drawing in maneuver
Either lying on your back or in a four point (crawling) position, think about drawing your belly button into your spine and pulling your abdominal gently together. Keep your spine straight and hold the contraction for 2-3 seconds and relax. Again, you can count 10-15 repetitions or you can set a timer for about 2 minutes
3. Sit to stand from the couch or a chair
You are probably doing this anyway just in your day to day routine, so why not keep it up. Start sitting at the edge of your chair and rise to standing without using your hands, if you can. This will help you get up off the couch or out of a chair when you are feeding your baby or need to change your baby. Think about how your abdomen feels, think about how your hips feel, think about how your pelvic floor muscles feel when going from sitting to standing and standing to sitting. If something feels "off" then make some slight changes and try again. If you are still having some discomfort, seek help from a pelvic health physical therapist who can guide you through exercise strategies to get you back to the activities you love to do.