I’m back with another guest post today from a great gal who has a wealth of knowledge with all things postpartum and pregnancy. Antonia is here to tell you all about working out with baby. Though I’m a bit past this stage 🙂 I thought many of my readers might enjoy!
Once you have a baby, considering working out is not one of the first things that comes to mind. But after you receive your clearance (usually at your six week follow up appointment with your OB/GYN), it’s a good time to start thinking about the baby steps you can take to getting back into or starting physical activity. Getting your ‘body back’ to it’s pre-pregnancy form can be a tall order, and it puts a lot of unnecessary stress on you. Besides…Your body never left! Depending on your birth story, the way your body handled the increase in weight and stretching while hosting your bundle, and how active you were before and during pregnancy determines how your recovery will be. Exercise after birth should be viewed as a way to aid in postpartum depression and disease prevention. It’s the holding onto to extra pounds over the years after birth, that puts you at risk for disease at mid-life age. Embrace your beautiful body after baby (even with some extra stretch marks and skin that hangs a little…let’s be real with each other!), and feel good with the added benefits you are getting for you and your bundle!
Embrace Your Body & Bond with Baby
The benefits of exercising once baby is about 6-8 weeks old are:
- reduction in risk of postpartum depression
- increased energy level to sustain you through late night and early morning feedings
- release of good hormones and improve mindset and ability to cope with new baby challenges
- another opportunity to bond with the baby
- increased skin-to-skin and bonding time
- engaging and stimulating sensory response
- aids in establishing routine
Working Out With Baby
Easing back into your workout at about 70% of where you were prior to delivery, or starting to exercise for the first time, try a 20-minute bout at low-moderate intensity (8-12 RPE on the Borg Scale) and see how your body responds. Exercises recommended to start are walking, muscular strength exercises for the major muscle groups, and stretching. If you have diastasis recti…please contact me to know which exercises to perform to avoid increasing the abdominal separation. I know from experience as my case is moderate-severe. Signs that exercise may be too much at first would be:
- presence of/or increased spotting
- pain near incision if you had a c-birth (c-section)
Gradually increasing your exercise by 10% every two weeks, and accumulating 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, is recommended. As baby gets older, and is able to hold their head up, sit up on their own, etc. exercises with baby can be modified for maximum benefit for both mom and baby; such as holding baby certain ways to help build muscle tone and improve flexibility. Be sure to stay well hydrated when exercising, especially if you are breastfeeding, by drinking 4-6 additional ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Safely losing weight should average 1 pound per week to ensure you take the weight off and keep it off. For great Fitness Break workouts, head over to the My Bump to Bundle Instagram page for the MOMday Monday Tone in 10 (ten minute) workout posts to get started. And these are my go-to for fitness because not only is incremental exercise throughout the day very beneficial, but Mommas of little kiddos do not have more than a 10 minute window to fit fitness in!
Antonia Roots is a Certified ACSM Exercise Physiologist, For Two Fitness Ambassador, Lactation Educator Counselor, & Momma of 2. She is the owner of My Bump to Bundle, an online resource for Mommas to nurture the roots for her and baby to flourish. Antonia’s passion is Momma Body Wellness and the many factors that are involved in improving the challenges of early momma hood.
- ACOG – Exercise During Pregnancy
- American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and 9th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2013
- Hyatt, Gwen, and Cram, Catherine. Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise Design. Tucson, AZ: DSW Fitness, 2003. Print.