As of this past Friday, I am officially 4 weeks postpartum and as of Monday the 22nd, my little butter bean (I literally come up with a new nickname to call her every day and this is the one I’ve settled on for today) turned one month old. WOAH! While it is so hard to believe how fast time has flown by, I have to admit I am excited because in just a few weeks I should be getting cleared to return to working out.
Before getting pregnant I thought it was totally doable to get back to working out ASAP after baby was born. I saw how celebrities were doing it and basically formed this opinion that other women were just being lazy and using their babies as excuses to slack off. Well let me tell you something, after obtaining my certification in pre/post-natal fitness and then now being through it myself, I realize how much of an ASSHOLE I was for ever thinking that. Unfortunately though, I am not the only person to have ever had this opinion. Sadly, many people still do.
In today’s world, I find that there is an immense pressure for women to “bounce back” quickly after a baby is born. I feel like society is forgetting to take in account the major toll pregnancy takes on a person, both physically and mentally. It isn’t some small thing. I mean not only did you create and carry a human being for 9 months, but you also pushed and/or had one cut out of you. And then on top of that, not only did you just do this major thing but you are now expected to resume normal life and act like something life changing never happened… Yeah okay (cue the eye roll)!
Truth be told, at 4 weeks postpartum I feel pretty great. I am no longer in pain, my bleeding (yes for those who don’t know, you bleed for 4-6 weeks after baby is born) is almost non-existent and despite running on little sleep, my energy is pretty decent. So why wouldn’t I start back at the gym now and return to “proper” exercise? Well because even though on the outside I appear healed, internally there still is so much happening. Organs are shifting back into place, my core is slowly fusing back together (not sure what I mean? Check out my Pt.1 post about Diastasis Recti here), there are still stitches in areas that would make your cringe, and my hormones are trying to find that homeostasis or balance (aka crying at the drop of a hat). As you can see, a lot of the postpartum recovery is not always visible to the naked eye.
So does this mean I’ve been sitting on the couch this whole time? Heck no (although if you plan to breastfeed, get ready for the couch to be your next best friend. Especially when they cluster feed). Despite not being cleared by the doctor just yet, there is still plenty that can be done to stay moving and promote healing/recovery. Walking for one is a great place to start and can be great for both you and your baby. Of course, if you are like me and had a winter baby, I understand this might be difficult BUT just remember, if it is warm enough for you to be outside, then its warm enough for your baby. Just dress them appropriately and take a nice stroll.
Additionally, the following pelvic floor exercises are wonderful to begin doing as soon as you are feeling up to it. Best part of these exercises are that they can be done anywhere and with NO equipment. WARNING: these are not designed to make you sweat. They should all be performed in a nice controlled manor. For this reason they are very low impact and can be quite boring. However, they are incredibly effective for helping heal & strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and core. I tend to shoot for 10-20 reps of each and repeat 3-4 times.
Single Leg Raises
Table Top Openers
**sorry no photos for this one because well EW! But here is a good method of how to perform these: Next time you are peeing, try stoping mid-stream. Gross I know, but it is effective. **
While it is so tempting to start back now and return to my past fitness regime, I know that waiting a few more weeks is the best thing to do in the long run. To avoid injury and pain, it is important to remember the respect and rest our bodies deserve after performing such a miraculous thing. I won’t say I am anywhere close to where I’d like to be physically (and aesthetically) but I know I will get there. I mean hey, it took 9 months to get this way so I can’t expect to return back to “normal” overnight.