You’re six weeks postpartum, have your doctor’s clearance, and are getting a little more sleep at night (or maybe not). You can jump back into your normal workouts right?
I wish but unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. Your body underwent major changes during pregnancy; you grew, carried, and somehow got a baby out. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery is a traumatic experience for the body. Although you may be feeling good and have your doctor’s okay, it takes time before you’re ready to workout again like you used to.
But I also know what it feels like to miss your workout and be eager to return to your favorite class. Not to mention, the social and mental relief it provides from your new, difficult job as a mom.
Here are some tips to safely return to your favorite fitness class postpartum. I specifically have Jazzercise in mind because that’s my workout of choice but please take the advice and apply it to your favorite workout.
- Before you return to class, first you need to
- Have your doctor’s clearance.
- No longer be bleeding.
- Check yourself for diastasis recti (here’s a good video on how to do this-skip to 2:10 if you don’t want to watch the intro).
- Invest in a good sports bra if you’re nursing (I personally like Victoria’s Secret Knockout-very supportive and zips in front for easy nursing access).
- Talk to your instructor before class. Let them know that you’re returning after having a baby. Most likely they will tell you to listen to your body, take it easy, and stop if something doesn’t feel good, all of which is great advice. Let them know that you may be modifying some parts of class. As a Jazzercise instructor, I personally don’t have a problem with anyone modifying as long as what they are doing is safe for themselves and others.
- Start low impact. I know you might be feeling ready to jump back in but do yourself a favor and ease back into things. Again, your body underwent major changes and your pelvic floor is weak. Give your body a chance to completely recover before diving back into intense workouts. Besides, low impact is not always an easier option. Focus on the muscle behind the move and you’ll be sweating just as much as if you were jumping.
- Concentrate on good posture. As new moms, especially if nursing, we spend a lot of time hunched forward holding and feeding our babies. Pull your shoulder blades down and together and stand up tall. Think about tying a corset around your middle to help your core remember its purpose.
- Adapt strength moves, especially if you have ab separation.
- Instead of doing a full forward plank, keep your knees on the ground.
- Instead of crunches, do pelvic tilts.
- Instead of full pushups, sit on your hip with your legs in a zig-zag to take pressure off the abdominals.
- Above all, be kind to yourself. Returning to exercise after having a baby is a journey and your fitness will take time to return. Instead of beating yourself up or lamenting how far you have to go to return to your previous fitness levels, simply enjoy moving and having a little time to yourself.
Remember all this is temporary. Being smart, listening to your body, and letting yourself heal now will make you stronger and fitter later!