What You Need to Know About Postpartum Exercise

If you were a mom-on-the-move before pregnancy, you’re probably looking forward to getting back into your fitness routine after delivery. Postpartum exercise is definitely encouraged. But there are some aspects of getting moving again that might come as a surprise. Check out the list below covering the details every new mom needs to know about postpartum exercise. 

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1. Your doctor will probably tell you to wait at least six weeks. 

Every woman is different and the time it takes for her body to safely heal from delivering a child reflects those differences. Before you start an exercise routine, talk to your doctor about how long they recommend you wait. Some doctors give women the go-ahead to get moving by four weeks. Others will want their patients to wait longer. 

2. A slow start isn’t a bad thing! 

Maybe you're anxious to start working out, but your doctor has told you it's safer to wait a few more weeks. Consider inquiring about what physical activity you can do. While your doctor might not want you lifting weights or going on extended runs, they might say it's perfectly okay for you to incorporate several walks around the block or a quick swim. Even if you have the green light to start really moving, there’s no harm in starting slowly and working your way back up to your old routine. 

3. Staying hydrated will be more important than ever. 

Staying hydrated is always important when you participate in physical activity. But staying hydrated when you exercise postpartum is more important than ever. If it's been a while since you worked out, your body will likely need more water to feel good. And, if you're breastfeeding your baby, getting dehydrated can negatively impact your supply. 

{ MORE: Real Moms Share Their Biggest Surprises About Their Postpartum Bodies }

4. Working out won’t hurt your supply of breast milk. 

It’s a common misconception that working out can ruin a mom’s supply or change the taste of the milk she does produce. Working out while you are breastfeeding is totally safe. It won't impact the volume of your milk or how it tastes. Rapid weight loss or not getting enough calories can hurt your supply, though. So be sure you’re eating enough and drinking a lot of water when you hit the gym. 

5. Postpartum fitness is not a race.

While some people regain their pre-baby physique in no time, others will hang on to a few (or many!) pounds of weight they gained while pregnant for a long time. Try setting realistic goals around how you want to feel instead of how you want to look or a number you see on the scale. This can help you feel good about your postpartum progress instead of feeling like you’re not where you want to be. 

6. Your body might look different than it did before baby. 

Even if you reach your “pre-baby weight,” the way your body looks may be different after you’ve had a baby. Many women find that they hold softness in different places and that changes in their skin, breasts, and belly alter their overall appearance. As you learn to live in your new mom-bod, do your best to relax, enjoy some postpartum exercise, and embrace the changes! 

{ MORE: You Gotta Love this Mom's Body Transformation Post (It's Positive!) }

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What You Need to Know About Postpartum Exercise

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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