It's both possible and beneficial to get back into an exercise routine postpartum, but there are a few things a new mom needs to do differently. Getting back into shape after giving birth is about more than just losing weight.
Rebuilding The Core
During pregnancy, a woman's abdominal muscles have stretched and pulled apart from one another to accommodate her growing baby. Many women want to begin rebuilding their abs immediately, but because the body has been completely transformed by pregnancy, core building must be done very differently than pre-pregnancy. The goal of postpartum ab work is to pull the rectus abdominal muscles back towards each other, closing the gap. Any ab work that bulges the abs, like sit-ups or unsupported planks, actually exacerbates the problem. Postnatal women should also avoid any splaying out of the rib cage.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Via Get Healthy U[/caption]
A Strong Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a less visible area of the body that's highly affected by pregnancy, and it matters even more than the abdominals when it comes to the body's overall well-being. A strong pelvic floor supports good posture and prevents body aches in multiple areas of the body. The pelvic floor also needs to be in good shape to avoid problems with incontinence and sex. Women can tighten and loosen the muscles of the pelvic floor (kegals) throughout the day, and they should also be mindful of not allowing them to bulge while performing other kinds of strengthening exercise. If it's not possible to keep these muscles pulled in, the body isn't ready for that exercise.
Body Awareness While Caring For a New Baby
Tending to a newborn is a nonstop job, and moms may feel like they are too busy to workout. That's absolutely fine, and there's no rush to get into a routine. Trying to exercise too soon may hurt the body, and being too occupied with newborn care is a good indication to wait. However, caring for a new baby involves a lot of repeated movements that can strain and injure the body. Feeding, diapering, and carrying a baby must all be done with awareness of body posture. Moms will want to avoid bending or bearing weight in an unsupported position.
The postpartum body is completely different than a body that's simply out of shape. It's really not out of shape at all, it's gone through a normal and purposeful transition. If a new mom takes it slow, gets an ok from her doctor, and takes into account her body's unique vulnerabilities, she can get into a successful exercise routine!