If you are anything like I was, your first week postpartum was spent on cloud nine, full of adrenaline and convinced that you could take on the world. A few weeks later, you question your body’s ability to do as much as a slow walk around the neighborhood. But you also want to get back in shape, and since your doctor gave you the green light to be active again, you decide to jump back into what you know.
But while your body may look similar to what you remember and you feel recovered from the immediate aftermath of delivery, there are certain things to consider before working out that could affect moms long beyond those first six weeks, and there are certainly ways you should NOT be working out postpartum.
Here are five things you need to avoid when you’re working out as a new mom.
1. Water. Stay out of the water, at least for a while. Swimming, which was such a great pregnancy workout, isn’t the safest activity now that you have given birth. That’s especially true if you're planning on swimming in public pools. Whether you delivered vaginally or via C-section, pools can pose a risk of infection, even beyond the six-week mark.
2. Doing too much too soon. This may sound like a no brainer, but once you get the endorphins from your first workout back and get over the next day soreness, you will want to schedule more workouts more frequently. Since the relaxin hormone loosens the ligaments that hold the pelvic bones and muscles together during pregnancy, doing too much too soon could lead to pelvic prolapse and urinary incontinence. So don’t rush it and give yourself time to build back up. And if you do want to exercise, opt for low-impact activities -- no jumping, running and weightlifting.
3. Planks and crunches. Many women experience diastasis recti after pregnancy. This condition, while painless, can destabilize your core longer after you have baby, especially if the gap in your abdominal wall increases beyond ½ inches (approximately the width of a finger). So it’s best to go easy on your abs, and whatever you do, talk to your midwife or your doctor before deciding on what core exercises to do.
4. Comparing yourself. It’s easy to forget that each woman has a different body, and we all have different postpartum battles -- be it breastfeeding or slimming back to our pre-baby figure. Comparing yourself can be very discouraging if you feel like you are not making the same progress as others. So choose your own rhythm, timeframe and exercise routine. All you want to do is achieve your workout goals.
5. Impatience. I don’t necessarily believe that it will take you a full 10 months to get back to peak shape, but I am sure that it will take a while for your body to heal and to embrace its new shape and abilities. That is a good thing. For example, any cardio that you have done during pregnancy usually shows results months after giving birth when your body adjusts to the higher volume of oxygen in your blood. Which is especially nice for women who enjoy running or spinning. Take each workout and each recovery one day at a time.
How did you recover postpartum? Did you find it hard or was it easier than you expected to get back into the swing of things? Please let us know in the comments.