Hey new moms (and not-so-new moms)! How is January treating YOU? Are you considering joining the crowd of “resolutionists” and getting back to fitness after newborn bliss? That’s awesome! Strange as it might sound to a brain addled by sleep-deprivation, getting some regular physical activity into (or back into) your routine can actually improve your energy levels and enhance your sleep quality – two very important considerations when you have a tiny human to take care of!
This week I’m going to explore my top five tips for taking on fitness safely and effectively, so that you can look forward to your new #mombod and being #momstrong. I’ll make it a quick read, too, because I know you’ve got a lot on the go these days.
Get clearance from your primary healthcare provider
Not only that, but ask him/her for any advice on intensity and/or movements to avoid or prioritize. Certain core exercises aren’t a good choice right away, and prioritizing the pelvic floor come to mind. You might even consider consulting with a pelvic floor physiotherapist (PFPT) if you have any concerns. Note that your ob/gyn might not actually be in a position to assess you unless you specifically ask. I learned that certain forms of prolapse can actually be missed during a standard prone (lying down) exam; the assessment should be done while you are standing up.
I thought getting the green light “officially” would be a no-brainer, and yet talking to mom friends and mom clients, it isn’t necessarily. Please do so – you have a whole future of health ahead of you and child(ren) who need you. It’s okay to wait another week or month until your care provider is sure you’re really ready. Please heed their recommendations!
Consult with a certified post-natal/post-partum personal trainer
Not all trainers have this additional education for working with a “special” population (um, you just created a brand new tiny human being – I’d say you’re “special” all right!). As mentioned above, PFPTs (physiotherapists specializing in pelvic floor muscles) are also a good resource for you.
Once you have made this contact, please heed their advice and recommendations. My wish for you is that you find a great resource who is hip (and sympathetic) to the challenges of early motherhood, including breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, wonky hormones and all the rest. My trainer was not – he chided me for my percent body fat! There might be some great male postnatal trainers out there, but you might have better success with someone who has actually been in your shoes firsthand.
On the nutrition side, you will want to ensure that your eating approach includes lots of WATER and nutrient-dense whole foods, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby. I’m excited to share that my nutrition coaching certification does indeed include support for my pregnant and post-natal clients.
I wish I was a certified postnatal exercise resource for you as well, however, at this point in my career, I am not. Ask your mom friends locally, or do a quick Google search in your area. Please feel free to provide links to qualified resources in the comments – I’d love to hear from you if YOU are a certified post-natal/post-partum personal trainer.
Keep your CURRENT fitness level in mind. Not what your fitness level was before you got pregnant, or even while you were pregnant (you have since delivered a brand new tiny human being into the world and have been busy keeping it alive and comfortable since then!), and not what you aspire for your fitness level to be in the future.
Go light, go slow, be mindful in your exercise selection and intensity and give yourself grace. Remember that part about creating a new human? Your fitness level WILL come back, and may be even better than ever now that you’ve realized what incredible feats your body is capable of!
If you’re new to fitness, congrats and what a great example you’re setting! With patience and consistency, you’ll be amazed at what your body can do.
Work out with other new moms
Join a Mommy & Baby or Baby & Me or other parented activity class, such as yoga or dance or swimming. Getting out of the house to socialize will provide some needed social/mental/emotional support and the change of scenery is good for baby, too.
Having a planned, structured activity can help to restore some sense of order to a life that may have been turned topsy-turvy by your little human’s arrival. It can give you something you to look forward to, and the endorphins released during the activity can boost your mood. If you’re like me and suffer from mild post-partum depression (PPD) or the so-called “baby blues” this can be a helpful and healthful part of your recovery strategy. I don’t think I even realized I was feeling lower than “normal” until I had days where I felt better.
Your body isn’t “gone”
Realize that your body hasn’t gone anywhere to get it “back” from. It’s been your beautiful, miraculous body the entire time. Your pre-baby body is not like some party dress stuffed in the back of a closet, waiting to be put on again. No, this glorious vessel has been home to your soul all along and your child’s for a time, as well.
Give yourself some grace, love and respect. Your body has shown up for you every day in countless ways. It isn’t “gone,” it hasn’t “left,” and you actually don’t need to get it “back.” It’s right here, ready for you to love it into health.
Whether it’s a “mom to mom” chat or a question, I’m always happy to hear from you!