For new moms, returning to exercise is often the last thing on your mind. Rather, you’re thinking about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, trying to get more sleep at night for yourself, trying to get more sleep at night for the baby and remembering when the last time you combed your hair was.
The timeline for returning to exercise is going to be different for every mom. In general, it is recommended to wait until six weeks. However, that does not mean you have to be completely sedentary for those six weeks. The six tips below will guide you to consider your overall wellness rather than just the number on the scale.
Take it outside - go for a walk
This is something that you can do both for getting in movement and for getting out of the house! Stretch those legs and enjoy nature. Bringing the baby along is also a great idea.
Practice being mindful
I talk about the importance of a mindfulness practice for new moms in a previous post. Being mindful does not necessarily mean you need to devote 20 minutes to a meditation session (although if you can manage that, that is wonderful). Being mindful can also mean finding 5- 10 minutes where you are not distracted by your thoughts, by your devices, or by others (even the baby). Practicing this will allow you to learn to be present in the moment - whether you are with your baby, your partner, or by yourself.
Keep it low impact
While you were pregnant, your internal pelvic organs and your abdominal muscles underwent some changes. It takes time for them to get back to where they were before pregnancy. As a result, engaging in high impact exercise like running, jogging and jumping, can put a lot of stress on that area and potentially set you up for injury. Engage in activities that will get you moving and keep you safe.
Rebuild The Core
This is so important! If you listen to only one of these tips, this is the one! As mentioned above, during pregnancy your abdominals are pulled apart to make room for your growing uterus. Specifically, it is your Transverse Abdominis (TVA) that is stretched and weakened. Rebuilding those muscles is essential to ensuring you can safely return to more intense exercise. Start with Levels 1 and 2 then progress to Levels 3-7.
Get familiar with cooking
One of the best things you can do in the beginning - when you're not moving as much - is develop or continue with healthy eating habits. Often when moms are busy, they reach for the easiest and quickest foods - and these are usually processed. By cooking at home, using fresh ingredients, you'll easily avoid processed foods and give your body the energy and nourishment it needs.
Practice diaphragmatic breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing (also known as abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and deep breathing) is a great way to not only promote relaxation, but also begin engaging the abdominals and pelvic floor. I suggest taking any amount of time - perhaps during your mindfulness practice - to practice. Count each inhale and exhale as one and count up to 10, then repeat. Inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4. Be sure to notice that the inhale is coming from your belly and not your chest.