The essentials of postpartum workout are more than weights and yoga mats. Postpartum workouts are very different from your standard workouts because you just delivered a baby and you’re still in postpartum recovery mode… working out after baby is super important, but there’s a lot to consider, so I am going to go over exactly what you need to start your postpartum workout routine.
The essentials of postpartum workout involve helping you heal, correcting your muscles and finding strength again, not just breaking a sweat.
This is a guest post from Katie @ Joyful Messes – her specialty is helping mommas thrive postpartum, and get that body back after baby – WITHOUT doing any damage. She shares with us the big things we need to think about when we’re ready to start postpartum exercise.
First of all, it’s important to ask:
How soon can you work out after giving birth?
Ask your dr at your postpartum maternity check up.
While it’s generally safe for most women to work out 6 weeks postpartum, everyone’s situation is unique and you must absolutely check with your dr.
Related: How to Heal Faster Pospartum
Now, let’s get into the details on what you need to survive and thrive when starting to workout postpartum!
A Belly Band:
A belly band is actually super helpful when starting your postpartum fitness routine. I consider it an essential for postpartum workouts for a reason that might surprise you – it corrects your posture more than your mommy pooch, which in turn, flattens your belly!!!
I talk a lot about posture in my postpartum healing, diet and weight loss program. Posture is one of the key ingredients to fixing your mommy pooch, and a belly band is a wonderful reminder to stand tall and pull your abs in to support your body.
Many companies will try to tell you these bands flatten bellies. And, they do for a bit. After you take it off, your belly will be pushed in, just like everything was pushed out during pregnancy – BUT it needs to be corrected from the INSIDE PULLING IN, not something pushing it back in from the outside. Which leads me to the next essential of postpartum workout.
Core Repair Warmup:
Never, ever workout postpartum without warming up your core properly.
DO NOT plank, do crunches or any other ab moves that work the outer ab muscles.
We want to work the inner ab muscles that will help pull your abs back in. In all the workouts I have in my program, we warm up the core before and in the middle of the workout, to ensure we are engaging the inner ab muscles throughout. A Pilates-centered workout is a great place to start!
Pelvic Floor Work:
Make sure you work on contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. (This is possibly the most important of the post-pregnancy exercises.)
I teach this in my program (and what that means), and it is SO IMPORTANT when starting your postpartum workout routine. Many decide to do kegels, not knowing the proper way to do them with breathing, and focusing on contracting, when relaxing is just as important. You can read these exercises to get you started on how to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Having a good pair of underwear can make ALL of the difference – especially when you’re trying to workout postpartum.
The last thing you want is to accidentally pee a little and ruin one of your favorite pairs of jeans. I have personally tried this underwear here, and I think they’re a great option if you find that you’re struggling with urinary incontinence.
Oh – and they work great to keep in light period flow too.
Accidents during workouts are normal in the beginning. They should be greatly reduced if you work through healing your core and pelvic floor, though. (Just one more reason why you want to get going on your postpartum workouts ASAP!)
I can now do jumping jacks no problem, but still have trouble with jumping rope. I wore a pad to the gym to give it a shot, and just couldn’t quite hold it. Which, tells me I’ve been slacking on my regular core work and pelvic floor relaxing and contracting.
If you have pads, it won’t be so worrysome, and you can push through without completely wetting yourself! As you gain strength and heal, it should get better and better. I am super happy to do jumping jacks after three pregnancies and deliveries so close together!
I personally never workout without great music, and this app is the only way I workout postpartum because I can choose beginner level workouts and listen to a trainer with an awesome playlist.
There is a Fourth Trimester workout section, that will walk you through tons of workouts safe for postpartum mamas. I don’t have to worry about watching the time for reps, I literally just listen, rock out and get it done. I highly recommend this app because it is free to start, and it is so motivating, you won’t dread working out.
You can do it from home, and choose workouts that don’t require equipment. Please try it and let me know how you LOVE it!
I highly recommend finding a postpartum workout plan you can follow. It will help you stay accountable, motivated and encouraged when things are hard.
With my program The Postpartum Cure, there is a private Facebook group, so if mamas are having trouble, others can share tips and tricks, or just encourage one another. Working with many mamas, I’ve learned that one of the hardest things is just getting started, and having others to share with really helps!
Also, having a plan is tremendously helpful when you can barely keep your eyes open from being up all night baby, and can’t think of a workout or find one to do. It is right here ready for you.
A Nutritious Diet:
As you begin to workout, you need to make sure your diet is on-point, especially for breastfeeding. A healthy diet full of milk-boosting, nutrient-dense foods will protect your milk supply no matter how much you workout.
I began running miles and miles while breastfeeding, and I never once experienced a drop in supply because I ate so much healthy, breastfeeding-specific foods.
The diet program in The Postpartum Cure is based off of everything I ate to fuel my body for working out and breastfeeding. A great diet for breastfeeding and weight loss focuses on foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, clean protein, lots of loaded salads with high-flavor and color veggies and more.
This post does a great job of giving you the rundown on a great, healthy breastfeeding diet, and there is a clean-eating challenge for breastfeeding moms that will get you started on the right track!
Related: Breastfeeding Diet and Weight loss
A Great Baby Carrier:
More often than not, the minute your little one sees you trying to workout, they will want to be held. My littlest one always does this if he sees me put my headphones on. Baby wearing is a great way to workout with your little one, and you need a comfortable carrier to make sure you are able to do moves with weight like squats, lunges, marching in place, walking and more.
(You will use the carrier for MUCH more than just working out – it’s a great way to keep your house clean with a baby, and for getting out of the house… and priceless if you have more than one kid. We tried tons of carriers and this was the one that baby loved the best, plus both my husband and I can use it comfortably.)
To get you started, here is a great workout you can do postpartum, with baby:
12 LOW SQUATS: Squat while wearing baby so your bottom touches your calves. That low. It is really hard. And, since working with the trainers on the app I suggested, I learned that turning your toes OUTWARD works your glutes more. I always need to work my glutes more!
12 BACK LUNGES EACH SIDE: Rather than walking forward into a lunge, lunge each leg backward. When pulling that leg in, use your front leg to pull the back leg into place. Do 12 reps on one leg, then 12 reps on the other.
MARCH IN PLACE 2 MIN: Stand and march around your house or in place for 2 minutes. This will get your heart working again, without any impact on you or baby.
30 SECOND WALL SITS: Stand against the wall, squat down like you are sitting in a chair and hold.
Repeat this small workout 3 times, and you and baby will both be super happy!
These are the essentials of a postpartum workout. Learning to workout again after baby can be totally uncomfortable because we lose a lot of muscle while healing from birth, as well as during pregnancy because working out and maintaining muscle gets really hard to do. Finding the time for a postpartum workout gets very hard too, but with these essentials of postpartum workout in mind, it can be done effectively to help you heal and get your body back after baby!