So you just had a baby and you are itching to get back into your running routine? Or maybe you are looking to get active and moving again after having your baby. When we have a baby and are ready to start our recovery and return to activity, we need to make sure our body is ready. For me, I was ready far before my body was and I struggled with the best way to get back to my exercise routine, because I didn’t take the time to make sure my postpartum body could handle the stresses of exercise. Every time I visit one of my friends after she has a baby, these are the things I try to tell her, because they are things I wish I knew after I had my first.
1. Wait to be cleared by your doctor/midwife to resume exercise. While it is true that there is nothing “special” that happens after 6 weeks to suddenly make exercise okay, what is the rush? If you had a vaginal delivery especially if stitches were involved, you will want to give your body some time to heal. If you delivered via C-section, you will need to allow your incision to heal before you even think about starting an intense exercise routine again. We may be feeling ready to go before then, but remember, we just grew a whole person. We probably aren’t sleeping great, maybe haven’t showered in a few days or eaten a real meal without an infant attached to us, we need some rest. If we need to move (and I get it, trust me, I was the same) go for a very SLOW walk. Take it easy, there is plenty time to rest and enjoy your new baby.
2. Take care of the pelvic floor. It is NOT normal to pee our pants while we jump and/or run. This is called stress incontinence and needs to be addressed. If we can’t jump in place without fear of peeing, we aren’t ready for running. We need to take our time and heal our pelvic floor. Doing this initially will be so much better in the long run. And if you are later into your postpartum life and still find you have problems with this, you can still fix it, it’s not too late!!! There are a variety of good programs that can help with this but I will ALWAYS recommend that you see a pelvic floor physical therapist if this is something you are struggling with, it will change your life.
3. Heal your core. Growing a person for 9 months does a number on our core. While most (all) women will experience some degree of diastasis recti, we will also likely experience a decrease in strength and control over our abdominal muscles. Running and jumping puts a high demand on our core muscles to stabilize and support our body to be able to move and after a pregnancy, our muscles need some help to get there. I honestly didn’t realize how much my core needed work after my second baby until I tried to do a speed workout and literally COULD NOT sprint. My brain said go, my legs said go, and my core said NO WAY. I did not have the stability in my core and pelvis to move my body that way. It wasn’t until I focused on strengthening my core that I was able to incorporate speed workouts back into my routine. If you are unsure how to strengthen your core safely, click here to grab my free “Restore Your Core” guide, designed especially for strengthening your core postpartum.
4. Focus on quality vs. quantity. Let’s be real for a minute, after having a baby time isn’t something we have in abundance. Between feeding the baby, spending time with family, keeping up with laundry/dishes/food, etc. and trying to find time to sleep, the last thing we want is to have to spend hours running or working out to get back to where we want to be. Focusing on quality workouts will be far more beneficial than spending hours pounding the pavement.
5. Be patient with yourself. This might be the most important thing on the list. Let’s be clear about this, we aren’t here to “get our bodies back”, but to get back to doing something we love and enjoy. Maybe you want to be competitive, maybe you want to finish your first 5k. The one thing we all have in common is that we are moms. Growing and taking care of a baby takes time, energy, and CHANGES you. Your body didn’t change overnight and it won’t “change back” overnight either. We need to give ourselves grace to take our time and adapt to our postpartum life.
These are the 5 pieces of advice I share over and over again, because I wish someone had shared them with me. I struggled a lot after my first was born to heal my body and find a good balance between work, mom life, home life, and taking care of myself. What piece of advice stands out to you? And what do you wish someone had shared with you? Let’s hear it!
And if you core strength is something you are struggling with, don’t forget to snag a copy of my “Restore Your Core” program, right here!