Let’s begin this by saying that getting pregnant, going through pregnancy and having a baby is the greatest physical accomplishment a woman experiences.
Your body has been through ALOT – on the outside, inside, including mental aspects as well. You cannot expect to jump back into your old workout routine because even if you feel alright on the outside, there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface.
Why you should get back to exercising…
Exercise helps prevent postpartum depression & anxiety.
The postpartum period is all about rebalancing your hormones.
Especially with having a crying bundle of joy that keeps you awake at night to care of and getting very little sleep. One in five women get postpartum depression (PPD), and studies suggest that exercise can help lower postpartum anxiety and depression symptoms in most women. It will help you feel better about yourself and get you back to feeling like your old self again! It’s also a great stress outlet and is a natural way to help get your system back into balance.
How soon can I workout?
Even if you’re eager to get your pre-baby body back, don’t rush back before your body is ready!
A common guideline is to wait six weeks if you had a vaginal delivery, and eight weeks if you had a C-section. I cannot emphasise the importance on checking with your doctor for clearance before starting your fitness routine.
What can I do or can’t do?
Get to know your pelvic floor and core again. You’ll be surprised at how different your core feels post pregnancy. Your core remains overstretched and you’re left with a belly that feels like… well, jelly.
One of the first forms of postpartum exercise you can start to incorporate daily can be a kegel routine, restrengthening or even re-familiarizing yourself with your pelvic floor muscles.
Read up on diastasis recti (a separation of the abdominal muscles), and check with a professional if you are unsure. Some studies have shown that almost 40% of women experience some level of separation up to 6 months postpartum.
Normally, planks are some of the best core exercises.
However, when you are freshly postpartum, those are not the best choices — they are too intense and require too much strength on a healing core and could cause diastasis recti or make it worse if you already have it.
How to get back into it
Remember to take it easy, don’t stress out, be happy – you just had a baby!
Your body has changed significantly and you might not fully understand the changes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this alone. There are many fitness professionals that can help you get back on track – safely and effectively.
Consider getting a personal trainer if you’re ready to get back into the gym, for a customisable programme that is catered to your body’s wants & needs. You can also opt to have online personal training sessions if you’re unable or don’t want to step away from home for too long.
Things people don’t talk about:
Breast feeding & exercising
You are going to need a good bra, and there’s even a chance you’re going to need two good bras at the same time.
Do NOT think you can get away with wearing some light impact & cheaply made sports bra, it will hurt. Now would be the time to invest in a high-impact supportive sports bra – trust me, your boobies will thank you for it.
TIP: Look for one with adjustable straps to accommodate your changing breasts and, ideally, with nursing clasps or easy-access openings.
Check out this Real-Support Bra by Boss Mama, created & co-founded by two Malaysian mamas!
This bra was made with every mother in mind. Whether you like to nurse directly, exclusive pump, or you just want a comfortable wire-free bra for all-day wear, this bra will give you what you need! Made with a unique cotton lycra blend to ensure maximum comfort all day and night.
Exercise leakage – it’s more common than you think!
Fun fact – making breast milk and breastfeeding your newborn burns between 300-500 calories a day!
However, the last thing you want is to be in the middle of a workout session and realise that you’re leaking into your t-shirt. Be sure to breastfeed or pump your breast milk before you begin your work out, as full breasts can make exercising rather uncomfortable.
TIP: If you’re a nursing mom who’s planning to be away from your baby for a period during which you’d normally do at least one feeding session, bring a breast pump and definitely wear some absorbent breast pads, which you can purchase online!
The other type of leakage
Not enough people talk about this. Do not be alarmed if you find yourself not being able to contain your pee while doing a strenuous exercise (it may sound gross, I know – but it happens to MANY women out there).
Don’t be embarrassed if it happens, your body has been through a huge trauma and is in a healing process!
It’s common for minor leakage to happen in the first few months. You can opt to wear a panty liner or dark coloured leggings. And make sure you go to the toilet before any physical activities!
But, if this continues to be an issue, ask around and consider getting yourself a physiotherapist or personal trainer that specialises in pelvic floor rehab to fix your issue.