Giving birth is no small feat. Considering the fact that numerous pregnancies and births are occurring every moment of every day all around the world, it becomes easy to downplay the hugeness of the actual event. (No pun intended, I swear)(Okay, maybe a little. Ya’ got me.) Going through nine months of pregnancy and then giving birth, while it may be the most natural thing in the world, takes a big toll on the body. With that said, the most important part of getting in shape after and getting your body back to a closer resemblance of who you remember yourself being nine months earlier, is patience and recovery. I know that for all of my pregnancies I was ready to get my body back by month eight, if not sooner. So when I say patience is important, I speak from some serious “I can relate” memories. I would also like to say this. A lot of women use pregnancy as a reason for why they just aren’t in shape anymore. This is one area where I do not hand out free pass cards. Your body may be different in some ways after pregnancy, and I see all of that as a positive each of us should embrace, but anyone can get back into shape after pregnancy. Even if you were not in the best of shape before the pregnancy, it is never too late. Even if you don’t exercise during your pregnancy you can still start fresh after. With a newborn there are so many ways to be active, even in the early months of your new child’s life. I recommend developing a fitness mindset before the baby even arrives. I am a big believer in imagery and knowledge. Research some post-partum books, dvd’s, or local exercise programs. Review them before the baby even arrives so they are familiar to you after delivery. And visualize yourself actually doing them. Visualize a new, fit, active you. The best kind of exercise in the very beginning is gentle movement and walking. Your fitness level during your pregnancy is going to have a direct connect to where you can begin after delivering your baby. Even if you were very active before, your body still has changes it will be going through, and you need to be mindful of that so you avoid getting injured. Joints and ligaments stay loose up to five months after delivery and if you had a c section, you may need to wait 6 to 8 weeks before exercising at all. Here is a link to a site with all of the important information about exercise after pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding, your main focus must be on staying healthy and well fed for the baby. At the same time, a mom who is breastfeeding only requires about 300 extra calories a day to provide proper nutrients and energy for the purpose of making milk. Aim for around 1800-2200 a day. But also listen to your body. If you are feeling hungry all the time and see a decrease in your milk supply, you may not be getting enough. If you are breastfeeding you can still exercise. You may need to time your workouts so they do not conflict with your feedings and keep your workouts more on the moderate side. High intensity activity can produce lactic acid build up in your system and affect the taste of your breast milk. High intensity exercise is any activity that leaves you in a state of breathlessness. Just stay away from intensity levels that put you near or take you past your anaerobic threshold. Advice I would give personally? Start small and gradually increase over time. There are aspects about your body that you cannot control and you need to let the transition take its course in its own time. Get creative in finding ways to exercise and make it a must do priority most days of the week. I always worked out at home in the beginning. A baby swing was my best friend. Luckily all of my children loved to swing. I would put them in the swing and they would nod off to sleep or just sit there swinging and watch me jump around my living room. Either way, it was very entertaining for them. Just about every gym in the area has child care. I can understand the fears parents have about leaving their child with someone else in a public place. My advice? Get over it quickly. In all the years I have been working for gyms or going to them as a member, I have never had a bad experience. In addition, if you start taking them when they are really little it will get them through the transitional phase much more easily when they hit the separation anxiety phase. It also gets you in the habit quickly of making time for yourself. And yes, even with a newborn, especially with a newborn, you will need it. For November, our topic will at home workouts. I will be offering tips and exercises to get you in shape in the comfort of your own home. And just in time for the holidays. Many of these will also be pregnancy and post-partum appropriate. So stay tuned!
Check out more of Jeannine at her blog Real [Fit] Life here!