Getting back into shape after having a baby

Sarah Lifestyle

The media and public are truly unforgiving when it comes to new moms and baby weight. Rather than celebrating one another’s achievements, many people seem a little too quick to judge how another person is coping following the miracle event of giving birth. It’s little wonder, then, that so many new moms are self-conscious of the way that they look after giving birth.

Remember, your stretchmarks and the paunch where your baby once lived are reminders that you grew a human! However, there’s nothing wrong with new moms wanting to get in shape. Exercise continues to be an essential part of life, even after an occasion as momentous as childbirth. Wanting to hit the gym or pick up a new hobby is nothing to be embarrassed about. Knowing where to start is the challenge. The task of getting back in shape may be overwhelming at first, but it’s not as hard as it may seem.

Take it steady

Walking is an excellent place to start when it comes to getting in shape after having baby. What could be better than going to the nearest park with your tiny bundle and enjoying a little fresh air? It can be so tempting to throw yourself in at the deep end when resuming exercise, but it’s never been more important to listen to your body. Even now, it is exhausted, with weakened abdominal and pelvic floor muscles that make it vulnerable to injury. Avoid exercise if you’re still experiencing bleeding or discomfort, and never work out to the point of fatigue.

Sleep when you can

It may seem counterproductive, but taking regular breaks and napping when you’re able will increase your body’s ability to heal – not to mention boost your metabolism so that you’re burning off those sneaky snacks a little more quickly. It’s recommended that new moms avoid high-impact exercise such as running for at least 12 weeks postpartum. Take this opportunity to get some rest and build your strength with more relaxed pastimes, including swimming and walking, and you’ll soon notice your body stepping up to the increasing challenges that you’re offering it.

Dress for the occasion

There’s nothing like buying a new wardrobe to inspire a new, healthier you. Indeed, the simple act of shopping for yourself may well be enough to increase your confidence and motivate you to step up and step out. However, it’s essential that you’re buying the right kind of gear because attempting to work out in anything less than the appropriate clothing could risk damaging your vulnerable post-baby body. Choose compression wear and garments built with a little give to support your changing body. These items tend to improve circulation and support muscles as you get up and go. Hipster underwear in a dazzling color such as pomegranate red is great for providing comfort and support in the best possible way.

Don’t neglect mental fitness

Getting physically fit is all very well, but a postpartum slump is a prime opportunity for the baby blues to settle in. It’s estimated that between 10% and 15% of new moms will experience postnatal depression following the birth of a child; which is a scary statistic for anyone facing impending motherhood. The good news is that treatment for such conditions is getting so much better, and there’s plenty that you can do to fight the onset of mental health disorders. While exercise won’t cure postnatal depression completely, it does release endorphins, or “happy hormones,” that can help combat the symptoms by up to 50%, ensuring that you’re in a better place to tackle other types of treatment.

Mix it up

Cardio is a great way to increase strength and build muscle in the weeks and months following your baby’s delivery, This includes activities such as walking, swimming and gentle exercise classes. What’s more, mother and baby yoga classes and stroller walks are wonderful ways of bonding with your new little one. Of course, there may come a time when your exercise regime just isn’t cutting it anymore. This could be a sign that your body is strengthening and getting ready for something a little more challenging. Mix your routine up and add new and exciting moves to keep it interesting. Just remember to listen to your body’s rhythms for signs that it’s had enough.

There are other pieces of advice that go without saying. Take hydration, for example – whether you’re breastfeeding or not, it’s vital that you remain properly hydrated before, during and after every bout of exercise. It’s also worth consulting a medical practitioner or personal trainer before taking on too much physical exertion. With support and guidance, you’ll soon find a workout that works for you and your baby. Most importantly, don’t pay any attention to the media’s unrealistic expectations of motherhood. It can be tempting to judge yourself against images that are largely Photoshopped, but experts tend to suggest that it can take a full nine to 12 months for a postpartum body to regain its shape, weight and fitness levels. Enjoy your new baby and make sure that you’re exercising for you.