The baby is here, yay! But you are left with bags under your eyes, extra pounds and some cellulite that did not reside on your legs prior to pregnancy. Plus you have a smile on your face and a new appreciation for a four-hour block of sleep! So just how do you add exercise and the best postpartum exercises into your busy schedule?
Unfortunately, you will not just find time to exercise—you have to make time. But if making time for exercise stresses you out too much, it may not be the best time to start. Or start with just 10 minutes three times a week.
Postnatal exercise is important not only for your body but for your mind too! First we are going to get into how your body recovers on its own. Then we will nail down the three post baby exercises you need to be doing to get back into working out (or start working out!)
How Your Body Recovers on Its Own
Your uterus shrinks about a finger’s width every day. In five to six weeks, your uterus will return to pre-pregnancy size. That means in that time it will go from the size of a watermelon to the size of an orange. Pretty impressive, right? Your body is remarkably adaptable.
Six weeks after your baby is born, your body is considered “back to normal.” Say what?!?! By normal it means that all systems have returned to their pre-pregnancy state, but you are left with loose muscles, loose skin and baby weight. So I always recommend a new mom takes it SLOW (the all caps means I am screaming so you listen). Keep in mind postpartum nutrition is important. It helps in weight loss, but in the first sixweeks it helps energize and repair your body.
The Best Postpartum Exercises
Whether childbirth was through vaginal delivery or C-section, exercise should be resumed gradually. A C-section may take a little longer to recover, considering it is a major surgery. But you can get your stomach back since C-sections do not cut through the muscles like they once did (doctors now perform bikini cut incisions). The best postpartum exercises will involve your core, endurance and strength.
Core—The core muscles are most affected by pregnancy.
Those crunches aren’t going to do it! And here is why. Crunches work the superficial layer of your stomach, the rectus abdominis. To get a flat stomach you need to work the TVA (the transverse abdominis).
So let’s do just that—work the inner core! Follow each of these Progressive Core Videos to get the integrity back in your stomach.
Progressive Core Workout:
You will see that the core workouts are progressive. I will not throw your core into a two-minute plank when it’s not ready! We will start working your inner core, the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis, to re-establish the connection. It is not your traditional ab routine, but so important to re-establish that connection since there was a baby under those muscles! As we progress into Core 2 and Core 3, we add in exercises for the rectus abdominis (the six-pack) and the obliques to work the entire core.
Endurance—Your body is tired so we need to gradually increase your endurance.
I want you to slowly increase the duration of your workouts! The first few weeks of working out you might find your endurance is low or you can only complete a few reps or 10 minutes and you are dog-tired.
Endurance can be as easy as walking. You simply increase your endurance each week by either increasing your time or your speed. Endurance can also be used in an interval workout—each week you do more in the “work” phase of a timed interval workout. Timed workouts are great because you work to your maximum comfort, which will improve every single week during the postpartum phase. The good news is with all the new research on exercise you can burn a significant amount of calories in 20 to 30 minutes.
Strength—You need strength to keep up with your family!
I am not talking about bulky muscles, just good ol’ toning that boosts your metabolism and gives your body strength. For new moms, interval training is best for time constraints and increasing strength. In fact, a study done in 2008 showed women had a significantly greater fat loss doing interval training compared to continuous training regardless of the lesser time.
So now that you are a mom—or a mom of 4—you will not always find time to exercise. But I will ask you to make time. Make time for yourself. You will find you are a better mom if you spend just a little time on yourself everyday. If anything, just 10 minutes can boost your energy and get you through the day!