That phrase “getting your body back” is a bit funny, because it’s not like your body went away on holiday, or vanished into thin air – it’s definitely been there the whole time! But there’s no denying that after birth there is a desire to get back to the way your body was; back into your favorite outfits, back into fun workouts, back to feeling strong and pain-free. That’s what “getting your body back” is all about – working towards your healthiest self so you can feel your best and look the way you want to.
If you’ve ever been one week postpartum, you know that the first thing on your mind probably isn’t “how soon can I work out?” it’s more like, “wow, I ache all over”. But rest assured, you will hit that restless stage where you’re ready to get back into your usual routine and back to your body’s best – and we’ve got 6 steps to help you get there.
6 Steps to Getting Your Body Back after Baby
1.The 6-week waiting window: Most women’s bodies aren’t ready for exercise until 6 weeks after birth – but this can vary based on things like your prior fitness level, pre-existing conditions, and whether or not you had a cesarean delivery. Ultimately, you’ll want to get confirmation from your doctor that it is OK for you to resume with normal exercise.
However, you can take advantage of this waiting period with light activity, as long as it doesn’t cause you pain or exacerbate lochia (post-delivery discharge). Regular walking is the best place to start, and as soon as you don’t have any ‘down-there’ pain we highly recommend getting those pelvic floor exercises going again.
2. Remember, there is natural weight loss: In your first few weeks you will lose a fair amount of water weight from all that excess fluid retention, and your uterus will shrink back to its normal size on it’s own (usually this takes 6-8 weeks). Breastfeeding also helps shed the baby-weight as you can burn about 600 to 800 calories from a day of feeding – but you will need to make sure you’re getting enough food to help you keep your energy and stamina up. Making all that milk is tiring work!
These natural processes will help you get one step closer to your pre-baby body, but they won’t get you all the way. Think of them as positive reinforcement and use it as motivation to kick your workouts into high gear once you can start exercising again.
3. Sleep, sleep, sleep: You’re probably thinking: Ha! Not possible… We feel you new mama! But sleep (when you can get it) will help in getting your body back as it maintains your body’s circadian rhythms and keeps natural body processes in a healthy balance – primarily your metabolism. Also, you’ll be less likely to reach for high-sugar and high-caloric foods for an energy boost, which ultimately make you feel even more tired in the long run.
We know sustained sleep is the holy grail of new motherhood, but hopefully this encourages you to ask for extra help from your partner, friends, or family when it comes to allowing you a few extra hours of sleep when needed.
4. Ditch the idea of a ‘diet’: We’re talking about ditching the notion of fad diets that require you to cut way back on caloric intake or severely restrict certain food groups – as now is not the time for that, especially if you’re breastfeeding. You need the full range of essential nutrients to keep your energy up, help your skin and body heal, and restore a healthy hormone balance. If you’re serious about getting your body back and feeling your absolute best, you’ll want to establish a healthy eating lifestyle (not a fad diet) starting now. That means getting your hands on raw, natural, fresh, clean foods at every meal – and avoiding processed foods and refined sugars and grains where possible.
The best foods to focus on? Veggies, veggies, veggies – and a variety at that! Fresh fruits, plain yogurt, and lean protein sources are also great staples. Lastly, eating high-fiber snacks like figs and raisins, avocados, legumes, and whole-wheat pastas will help fill you up faster, provide lasting energy and regulate your digestion.
5. Get comfortable with cardio: You’ll want to start by building back your cardiovascular strength and stamina, so that you’ll be ready for more intense exercise down the road. Unless otherwise advised by your healthcare professional, after those first 6 weeks are up you can introduce 20-30 minutes of cardio into your exercise routine 3 to 5 times per week. Even pushing a pram 1 to 2 miles in 30 minutes burns 150 calories, as does walking up and down stairs for 15 minutes! You don’t have to go too far or too long; all you have to do is go!
6. Bring on the weights, as soon as you’re ready: Introducing resistance training is your final step, as adding weights to your workouts will help massively in getting your body back. This is all about building good muscle tone – because the more muscle you have the more calories you’ll burn, even when you’re at rest! Sounds pretty good, right? Weight training doesn’t necessarily have to include dumbbells, weighted bars or a trip to the gym if you’re not into that stuff, because using your own body-weight counts too! It’s a great way to get started with resistance exercises and it’s perfect for your new mom lifestyle as you can do them from the comfort of your own home. We’ll be sharing our top 10 body-weight exercises soon – so be sure to check back in!