Tips to Getting Back Into Shape Post-Pregnancy

getting back into shape post baby
Image via Mindi Stavish

I'm sure you have heard it all before: “It takes nine months to grow that little baby, so give yourself nine months for your body to recover and lose the weight.” Some moms may wonder if their body will ever return to their pre-baby shape. The good news is that with a well-balanced diet and exercise, it is possible to get back into shape after birthing a human. There are many benefits to postpartum exercise including reconditioning your abdominal muscles, boosting energy levels, improving mood, relieving stress, and preventing postpartum depression. Here are a few factors that you must take into consideration when beginning a workout routine.

dance fitness
Image via Flickr/ thinqfitness

Don't rush back into a fitness routine or new diet plan too soon. Women recover at their own rate. The current recommendations state that a woman who has had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery may begin aerobic exercise when they feel ready. Moms who have experienced a c-section should wait for their doctor to clear them before resuming exercise.  

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healthy meals
Image via Flickr/ blair_25

Avoid cutting your calories back, as tempting as it may seem. According to Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, studies have shown that a breastfeeding mom requires 1800-2000 calories a day. If you cut out essential calories that your body needs, your milk supply is likely to suffer, and you won't produce what your baby needs during these precious first few months of growth and development. Additionally, during the newborn months, it is typical to feel hungry all the time. You should listen to your body and eat when it tells you to.

walking
Image via Flickr/ mikecogh

Don't be afraid to break a sweat. Moderate exercise will not impact your milk supply, nutrient composition, or your baby's weight gain. If you're a breastfeeding mom, be sure to wear a supportive sports bra during aerobic exercise. If you prefer to lift weights or participate in exercises that involve repetitive arm movements, reduce your level of activity if you begin to develop plugged milk ducts. After adjusting your workout, start treatment to relieve the plugged duct right away to avoid an infection. 

stroller walking
Image via Flickr/ Joe Shlabotnik

Cut yourself some slack and realize that this will take time and persistence! Caring for a newborn is hard! It requires many sleep-deprived nights. It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise if you are feeling exhausted. After the birth of my first baby, if I couldn't complete a full workout routine at least three days a week, I felt like a failure. I was unfortunately comparing my post-baby fitness routine to my pre-baby routine.

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In the long run, I gave up working out altogether because I was tired of not being able to “do it all.” Once I stopped breastfeeding at a year, I realized that I needed to change my overall outlook on fitness or I would continue to be sedentary. Instead, I found a few other moms with young children, and we encouraged each other to be active, even if it was just a quick walk around the neighborhood after dinner. 

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pilates
Image via Flickr/ familymwr

Choose fitness activities that you enjoy doing. I know this sounds simple, but oftentimes, with a baby, it may not be. Babies sure change your priorities, including your fitness. Maybe you went from working a full-time job to a stay-at-home mom, and you had to drop your gym membership. Maybe you used to swim laps at a local pool, as part of your cardio exercise. There are many different options for working out with your baby, including baby boot-camp fitness classes, mommy-and-me yoga, and there are even DVDs that are geared toward post-pregnancy fitness routines. Find something that works for you, even if it's not what worked before baby.

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What is your biggest challenge when it comes to working out post baby?  

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Tips to Getting Back Into Shape Post-Pregnancy

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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