Talking to your doctor is a key first step towards achieving your postpartum exercise goals. They may give you the go-ahead right away, or suggest that you wait a few weeks before you resume exercise. Some may even recommend waiting until after your six-week checkup. Sure you may feel ready to go, but listen to your doctor’s advice. We suggest you talk to your doctor before leaving the hospital after giving birth. Just ask them what kind of physical activity they recommend. If you have something specific in mind, like rowing, running, or yoga, bring it up and see what they say. That way, you’ll know exactly what you can and cannot do when you get home.
Your body has just been through a lot. The muscles in your hips, thighs, and belly have been put to the test. Your breasts are bigger and put more stress on your back and you’re probably carrying more weight than you were before you got pregnant. Oh, and let’s not forget that you just brought a new life into the world! Give your body time to recover before starting any exercise program to avoid the risk of unnecessary injury. Waiting at least a week or two allows your body to heal and your hormones to stabilize.
When your doctor gives you permission to start exercising—whether it’s right away, or after your six-week checkup—start out small and slow. Sure you may have been doing CrossFit workouts with no problem before you got pregnant, but a lot has changed in the past nine months. Jumping back in where you left off and expecting to do your old workouts right away can be dangerous. We recommend starting with activities like walking, light calisthenics, and stretching. They may not seem like much right now, but consider them as testing the water. You need to see what you can and can’t do with your new body. Try a fifteen-minute walk with your baby, perform some body-weight squats (sitting down and standing up from a chair repeatedly works well to start), or put together a light yoga routine. When you know you can do short, light activity comfortably and without pain, gradually build in duration and intensity. Just remember, starting out small and slow and building from there is much better than pushing too hard, injuring yourself, and having to wait an additional six months to a year.
Exercises like walking, swimming, water aerobics, and yoga are good options for postpartum exercise. For those just starting out, low-impact aerobic activities and stretching are often best. Other recommended low-impact choices include the stationary bike, elliptical machine, and stair-climber machine at the gym. Be sure to take it slow at first and build your duration and intensity. Another fun postpartum exercise option is a class for new moms. Check for a Strollercize or a Baby Boot Camp program at your local gym. These classes are a great way to get out of the house, get some exercise, and socialize with other new moms.