A hot topic for moms who have recently given birth is usually weight loss leaving many women signing up for the most intensive bootcamp as soon as they’ve been cleared.
I was one of them! The harder, the better!
I didn’t fully understand the impact this had on my body until after the both of my second child. I was left with a diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse. The level of my intensity was too much during that first year following my son’s birth.
During and after my second pregnancy, I had a much different mindset. I didn’t force my body back into shape. I focused on full body restorative exercise program which became Post-Baby Rehab where I incorporated Core Confidence which is a core and pelvic floor rehab program designed by Bellies Inc.
Post-pregnancy isn’t the time to go aggressive with weight-loss. Your body demands a lot during pregnancy and birth and now they have to adapt to it’s new demands while trying to recover. This is a process that doesn’t happen in 6-weeks or even 6-months.
Let me explain:
You have spent the nine months pregnant. Your body needed to adapt to your growing baby both physically and physiologically. This means your abdominals needed to give way, your stroke volume and cardio output needed to increase as your blood volume increased, and your hormones needed to shift. Your body works incredibly hard to support a healthy pregnancy.
After birth, your body changes yet again. You may even still look pregnant. Your hormones are now shifting again to produce milk and seeing that you’re awake around the clock feeding your sweet little baby, and your stress hormones are also elevated. Here’s another hormone that you need to pay attention to--Relaxin. Relaxin is the hormone responsible for relaxing your ligaments, joints and tissues to prepare for birth but can take 3-6 months to return to normal (possibly longer if you’re breastfeeding. This means that your pelvic floor and your core may not be strong enough to handle high impact exercise programs like bootcamps or running.
So, what are to you to do to lose weight you ask?
Be patient with your body and give it the tools to heal. Remember those stress hormones I mentioned above? Cortisol encourages extra fat to develop especially around the tummy. Exercise also produces cortisol and it can’t tell the difference being up all night with baby or a kick ass workout. Your body is chronically stressed at this point in time and an intensive weight-loss program may only add to that, leaving you feeling frustrated.
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Walking is also a fantastic way to get moving with your baby. If you chose to wear your baby, bring the stroller with you. If you feel like your back and neck are getting a little tired, you can continue with your walk.
Eating well will also speed up the healing process. Making sure that you get nutritionally dense foods most of the time will help to rebuild collagen which is excellent for healing your tissues as well as your core and pelvic floor.
This doesn’t mean restricting yourself or cutting out food groups. If you’re breastfeeding, your appetite will be in overdrive for the next few months and you are going to need everything you can get. Eat well balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. This will ensure that you and your baby are both getting what you need.
Get as much rest as possible. I know it’s hard with a new baby because you’re on their schedule for the first few months but getting some decent rest will not only help in the recovery process, but it will reduce stress and give you a little more energy for some activity.
Don’t get me wrong, “sleep when baby sleeps” is the worst advice known to mom but there is a lot of validity to it. I get that falling asleep on a sporadic newborn schedule is next to impossible but if you can lay down in a dark room and relax for 20 minutes once a day, that’s enough to recharge.
As you continue with these 3 helpful ways and visit your pelvic floor physio for regular check ups starting at 8-weeks postpartum (you should see your pelvic floor physio before you return to any form of exercise), weight-loss will be a bi-product, not the goal.
As your recovery progresses, so can your exercise program. You can gradually add in more intensive programs like Finding Your Strength or walk/run intervals of you want to start running again.
Some woman will be able to return sooner than others and that may be discouraging but there is no one magic recipe to postpartum recovery. Every women, pregnancy, birth experience and postpartum recovery is different.