Being a new mom is never easy: health and fitness can seem trivial after childbirth.
It’s an adaptive process that is going to be a serious change whether you’re a first-time mom or you’re adding another kiddo to your family. If you’re trying to get back into shape and feel better, it’s a slow process that requires a little patience and self-care.
Today, we’re going to focus on the 9 most important ways to stay on top of your fitness as a new mom.
Be gentle with yourself
This should go without saying. You’ve been through a lot – try not to rush yourself or put guilt on your progress. It’s all about being gentle with yourself and acknowledging why you’ve had to time off.
We see many new moms trying to overcome the guilt of not-exercising, as well as the physical challenges. It’s a lot more stress than you need at an already-stressful time in life.
Focus on behavior change
Post-baby, you’re going to want to put behavior change and small wins first. With the additional scheduling troubles of a baby, you’re going to need to avoid leaning on convenience if you want to get back to health and fitness.
There are times when the lack of sleep or the needs of your child are just going to come first. This means that junk food and fast food might seem appealing.
Resist that urge and try to use meal prep and other constructive-convenience to your advantage!
Start with diet
You might have guessed by now, but diet is going to be key. It’s already 80% of physique, and it’s going to be a big part of your return. Even when you’re not ready to exercise, you can see benefits from a healthy diet.
Proper nutrition will accelerate your recovery and return to normality after childbirth. It combats stress, improves energy levels, and will keep you mentally and physically healthy during trying times.
A small win is still a win. In the aftermath of the lifestyle changes, it’s important to step back and start from the beginning.
Your ability to progress from this point is going to be down to you as an individual but starting small reduces your risk of injury or over-reaching too soon.
This could be brisk walking with baby once a day or finding gentle exercise that you can work on during the early postnatal days.
Be Patient: Focus on progress, not PBs
Once you’ve gotten back into it at a low level, focus on putting together a good trajectory rather than rushing back to your best performances.
Exercise here is remedial and about returning to shape and full movement quality. It’s not about ego, but about the best long-term change, you can affect.
It might take a while to get back into the swing of things, be aware of this and focus on consistency over anything else.
Remedial Exercise: work the weaknesses
A post-natal body brings its own demands. You need to focus on strengthening the muscles that were weakened during pregnancy. They may show up down the line in the form of health or performance issues, so a program of rehab can be a great choice.
Women’s health physiotherapy is the place to look for this. However, basic exercises for strength and conditioning detrained muscles can be used at home or at the gym. Key focus areas are:
- Abdominal/core muscles
- Back muscles
- Pelvic base and related muscle
Training these will improve the health and function of the muscles and functions they control.
Involve your kids
If you’re a new mom, being active with baby will be an important time for bonding and coming to terms with life as a mother.
Activity and gentle exercise with your child take many forms, but it’s a great way of upping the activity levels outside of structured exercise. Taking baby for a stroll in nice places or playing with them in soft-play or other safe exercise is great for you both.
Non-exercise activity makes up a huge part of our daily activity and plays a big role in health and fitness. Get more active, don’t just work out.
Home workouts are Great
If you’re looking for convenience and fitness with baby around, home workouts can be key. You won’t always have time for normal gym time if you’re coming back from pregnancy and dealing with the time demands of a new child.
Gymnastic strength training and other bodyweight techniques are great for building strength in the most important muscles, at home, in a controlled way that fits around your schedule.
Activity Together Builds Better Humans
As your child grows and you become stronger and fitter, it’s important to involve your child in that pursuit. This isn’t for your benefit: studies show that the children of active adults live more active lives, kids who are active in youth make healthier adults, and the role models we select for fitness have a huge impact on our development.
Helping your kid take part in your own fitness and activity routine is a great investment in their character and their health for the rest of their life.
Motherhood is one of the hardest things you can do, but it’s rewarding to know that you can improve a tiny human and yourself all at once. Fitness isn’t a trivial part of this process: it’s important for you both and it can make a serious difference to the way that you bond, grow, and your child’s long-term quality of life.
Put these 9 tips to practice in your own life – you’ll find it much easier to stay healthy and get back to peak shape.
Paola Marquez, a Personal Trainer from Austin, Texas has worked with 100s of new moms after childbirth. She recommends that you try and form new habits slowly each day and that a macro diet plan is an optimal way to stick to your goals but also be able to each whatever foods you want.