We are thrilled to feature this guest post from fit mom ambassador, Amanda, about the best exercises for postpartum women.
Amanda Perry is a mom, wife, gym-owner, personal trainer and blogger at Sistas of Strength. After spending 10+ years as a marketing manager in corporate America, Amanda is finally pursuing her passion and working in the fitness industry.
Amanda co-owns Skill of Strength, a gym and training facility in North Chelmsford, MA with her husband. They provide personal training, kettlebell training, adult group training and sports performance training for athletes.
Please note that I am not a doctor. You should always clear all exercise programs with your doctor and obtain clearance to start exercising again after having a baby.
Let’s face it, every new mom is looking for the best and fastest way to get back to start feeling like herself again after having a baby, and wondering what the best exercises are for postpartum women. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all postpartum fitness program for new moms. Getting your body back is hard work and takes time, patience and commitment.
Delivering a baby puts a lot of stress on your body and you’ll most likely need to rest for at least a few weeks before starting any type of physical activity. For women who have a difficult delivery or delivery by cesarean section, it may even take a few months to recover enough to begin any strenuous activity. That said, in my personal opinion, many fit mamas who have uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries do not need to wait a full 6 weeks and can do some things to start being active and getting stronger again much sooner.
I was fortunate that my pregnancy was not complicated and I was able to weight train and workout with kettlebells up until the day my son was born. I was able to start walking a few days after my son was born and to really start exercising just a few weeks postpartum. However, there were certain things that just didn’t feel right (hello running!) during my first few months as a new mom. I made sure to avoid anything that caused pain the next day and increased my training volume and loads slowly.
I always remind postpartum women is that it is important to use common sense and make note of how you are feeling after doing any type of exercise. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. Give yourself some time before trying again. During and just after pregnancy are not the times to set personal records!
So, once you’re feeling ready, what the heck should you do first?
WALK. I love long walks with my son in the stroller because it helps both of us get some fresh air and de-stress! Walking does burn calories, but even more important for new moms, it’s a fantastic stress reliever and low-impact way to get your body moving.
TABLE PLANKS. Your core strength stinks. How do I know? Because every postpartum woman I have seen has poor core strength. Believe me, it was a huge wakeup call for me when I tried my first plank after having my son. Table planks are a great exercise to start with. Get on all fours, like you are going to crawl, hands flat on the ground, right under your shoulders and knees right under your hips. Keeping your head in line with your back, lift your knees just slightly off the ground keeping your belly tight. Hold for as long as you can and do 3-4 sets to start. Work your way up to holding longer for 4 sets.
KEGALS. I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times. However, making sure that you do these can help you have better control over your bladder muscles and may reduce incontinence often associated with childbirth. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your muscles as if trying to stop the flow of urine when going to the bathroom. Hold for a count of 5 and release. Do as many sets as you can fit in throughout the day!
Remember, you’re a new mom. You’re exhausted. You’re probably starving if you’re nursing. You’re stressed out. You need a way to relax, have some time to yourself and start feeling great about your body. Although your baby is your number one priority, it’s also more important than ever to take care of yourself.
If you are a new mom I encourage you to get into some type of fitness routine as soon as you are feeling up to it. The longer you wait, the more excuses you can find and the easier it is to keep putting it off. Once you’re cleared to exercise, don’t stress too much about WHAT to do, but rather work towards finding a way to fit in 3-5 workouts that feel good and that you enjoy.
Moms, what tip helped you most when you were trying to get back into shape after having a baby? What do you think are the best exercises for postpartum women?
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Please welcome Alyssa, our latest For Two Fitness Ambassador! Alyssa is the mom of two young girls, and is excited to have number 3 on the way. She keeps fit during pregnancy and postnatal times by walking, practicing yoga, and doing low impact strength training. Alyssa has run a number of half marathons, and is looking forward to participating in one in 2019. Please follow Alyssa on her website.