How to (really) Get Your Body Back After Baby
The message to moms of “get your body back!” irks me. For starters, the timeline the media shouts at us is unrealistic, bordering on insulting. Your body went through the most drastic changes it likely ever will – creating life – then, you birthed that baby into the world. Nothing should be done quickly after that!
Next, is the notion that all women want to look like this never happened, and go back to exactly how they were before pregnancy.
Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to use my core again after my c-section, and getting back to running was exciting, but my life is different now that I’m a mom, and so is my body.
What “getting your body back after baby” means to me, is getting back to regular exercise, feeling strong in your daily life, and rediscovering your mind/body connection.
Your body has changed and your life is different. Going back to the way you were is not the way forward.
Feeling good in your postpartum body is important for you mentally, probably more than physically. The trouble comes when women make losing the baby weight their main priority as soon as they’re home from the hospital.
We forget it’s a process, not a thing we can check off. Here are the steps to take to feel amazing in your body after baby!
Toss the Timeline
Get rid of your arbitrary timeline and immediately take the pressure off. Where did your timeline come from in the first place? Your friend who is back to CrossFit in 3 months? Random woman on Instagram who is running a 5K at 6 weeks postpartum? Your sister who donned pre-pregnancy jeans 6 months later?
That’s great for them, but you have no idea if this was easy, or safe for them. You also don’t know how your body will respond after giving birth, or even a year later.
Did you know it’s not required for women to fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans? Seriously, we get so caught up in what society deems important, we forget we can make different goals. There’s nothing wrong with a pre-pregnancy weight goal, as long as it’s your goal.
Whether you start when you’re cleared by your doctor, or after your baby’s second birthday, curb your instinct to go from zero to one hundred. Going All In is often how us moms operate, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you skip the basics.
Water, Sleep, Adequate Fuel
It’s easy to overlook your own basic needs with young kids. More than a few times have I been driving away from home doing a mental checklist – changed him, fed him, got the diaper bag, etc. – realizing I didn’t drink any water that morning.
Before you ramp up your activity level or crack down on your diet, pay attention that you’re doing the basics of getting enough water and enough calories to support those changes.
Sleep is a touchy subject for moms with littles. I promise I’m not mocking you when I say you need enough sleep!
Your sleep doesn’t have to be perfect – like it was before baby – but if you’re falling asleep at 5pm every day and/or up 6 times a night, taxing your body with challenging workouts can set you back, draining your energy and not giving you the rest you need to recover and get stronger.
If you’re falling asleep at 5pm every day and/or up 6 times a night, taxing your body with challenging workouts can set you back, draining your energy and not giving you the rest you need to recover and get stronger.
Trade filler for quality fuel
Nutritional changes give you the bigger bang for your buck over exercise. Start with a quick assessment of your diet by doing a simple food journal – make it easy peasy with this Food Journaling 101 post! – and pick 1-3 small changes to solidify before moving on to fitness goals.
Start with small changes like these 15 Healthy Swaps for everyday healthier meals. Play with bringing mindfulness into your eating with these 5 genius ways to become a mindful eater, and stock up on these healthy kitchen staples.
Add in exercise
Once you’ve got your basics met and a pulse on your healthy eating habits, it’s time to add in the fitness piece!
If you were active before and throughout your pregnancy, you’ll find it easier to get back into your groove, but if exercise is new to you, there is no better time to start! Let’s look at the types of exercise, then how to fit it in.
Rebuilding your core is crucial for your post-baby body. I’m not talking about getting a six-pack, rather strengthening the deep abdominal muscles that were stretched and likely separated during your pregnancy.
The core is connected with the pelvic floor, and it’s incredibly common for women to have issues related to a weak pelvic floor postpartum. Check out this post on the do’s and don’ts of regaining core strength!
Strength training and cardio are up next, and I place higher priority with strength training.
Strength training twice a week is a great starting point, and you honestly don’t need more than 3 days a week to reap all the benefits for basic fitness.
A full body routine will be the most efficient, and you can get through this in 20-30 minutes. Here are some bodyweight exercises you can do at home and get an awesome workout during nap time!
Cardio is such a vague term, it’s basically anything that gets your heart rate up, so what is right for you depends on your goals.
To build endurance, you’ll want steady state cardio where your heart rate is elevated around the same intensity for 30+ minutes.
For fat loss, try intervals and push yourself hard for 30 seconds-2 minutes and recover for twice that time, repeating for 20-30 minutes. Both of these can be done 2-3 times a week.
For basic health, shoot for 30 minutes of continuous movement everyday. This could be walking, hiking, dance, anything you enjoy that gets your heart rate elevated.
How to fit it in
Truthfully, it’s usually not that new moms don’t know how to exercise, it’s that they can’t figure out where it fits into their new schedule. The challenge is different for every mom, and changes as their baby grows.
Here are my tips:
Remember that every bit counts. A standard hour workout is likely a thing of the past. Doing anything is better than nothing.
Split your workouts up throughout the day, do higher intensity intervals for a shorter amount of time, do a plank, wall sit, pushups, etc. while laying on the floor with your baby or at lunch from work.
Have a plan. Treat your workouts like you would anything else on your to do list. Know what you want to do that day, and the best time to do it. Even if your day goes astray, you’re more likely to figure out a plan B if you had a plan A.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are so many amazing resources that make working out possible for busy moms.
The YMCA has amazingly affordable memberships with childcare included, Fit4Mom is the most mom-friendly franchise out there where you can workout with your kiddo, and YouTube brings quality instructors into your living room for FREE.
Build your mind/body connection
I’m always reminding the women I work with that stress is stress is stress. What I mean is, even good stress like exercise is still a stress on your body. Life with a baby and/or toddler is inherently stressful, so taxing your body with tough workouts can work against you if you aren’t aware.
Learn what your body needs by slowing down and paying attention. Yoga and meditation (click here for a list of the top meditation apps!) are excellent tools to sharpen your own mind/body connection.
Knowing your personal signals of stress and discovering practical stress management techniques will help you fuel and energize your body in a way that’s right for you.
My postpartum body is different, my goals are different, and the way I exercise is different. It’s not better or worse, it’s simply what it needs to be at this stage of life.
It’s not better or worse, it’s simply what it needs to be at this stage of life.
I love helping new moms figure out what “getting your body back after baby” means to them. Let’s figure this out together, and get your plan in place so you can feel awesome in your post-baby body! Email me at Samantha@simplywellcoaching.com to set your free 20 minute discovery call.