I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was at my 6 week postpartum check up, with my first baby who I was still getting to know, my c-section scar still numb, my nursing bra unbuckled, still wearing a mom-diaper, and I hear the doctor declare I was cleared for working out. The tiny part of my brain that was left that remembered what my body functioned like pre-pregnancy instantly turned on and perked up.
As a former college athlete, I had this belief that if I wasn't dripping with sweat, close to puking, and completely worn out, then I hadn't worked out. I knew how to move my body, I was strong, and I loved pushing myself to the limits. But once I had my first kid, I realized everything that I knew about working out not only needed to change, but it had to change! I know many women who were like me pre-baby. I know a lot of other women who never workout out but realized they wanted and needed their body to be strong and healthy for their kids post-pregnancy. So today, I am sharing 5 simple tips on how to tackle those first workouts after baby.
1. Take It Slow.
Ok, this might seem obvious, but I have found that it is so hard for some women to start out slowly moving their bodies again. You go out for your first "long" run and it just feels so darn good to be moving that you push yourself to run 3 miles when you should have done a simple jog/walk for 1 mile. I get it! But your entire body changed gradually over the last 10 months so now we need to slowly put it back together. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Have A Support Team
So many women think that once they've been cleared by their midwife or OB, then their body is ready for full exercise again. However, I don't ever recall mine evaluating my pelvic instability, my abdominal diastasis rectus, upper or lower cross syndromes. These are just a fraction of the changes that can occur from carrying and birthing a baby. Forming a support team consisting of a postnatal chiropractor (Hey, that's me!), a pelvic and core PT, an acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc. may sound like a lot but is totally necessary to help correct imbalances and also train your body using the proper mechanism of movement.
3. Find Ways To Enable Yourself
Even before having kids, if a workout was all the way across town, involved too much equipment, or was only offered at certain times of days, the likelihood of me going was pretty slim to none. Now that I have kids, the odds are even greater. That's why I always tell people to find enabling factors before committing to a workout. If you need a gym, pick one with a daycare, close to your house, that has a variety of class times. If you're a runner, find 1-2 trails near your house or within a short driving distance that you enjoy running on. I found that earlier on, I needed to really make it easy for me to workout. As my kids got a little older, around 8-10 months postpartum, I finally could commit to 3 early morning workouts, while my husband watched the kids, at a gym NOT close to my house!
4. Incorporate Weight Training
If anything good comes from TikTok or Insta Reels, it's all the available female weight lifters gaining popularity. Yes, most of their body's aren't quite realistic for the mom who has a total of 10 minutes to do some exercise. However, there are so many amazing examples of strong, fit women that are showing us how to use weights properly! Find 1 or 2 accounts and follow them. Then pick up some 10-15 lb dumbbells and keep them in a cute basket in your living room so that when you find yourself free for a second, you can just open your phone and do a quick workout.
5. Nourish Your Body
Don't forget to nourish your body with healing, healthy foods. Remember, it takes about 18 months to completely heal and re-regulate your body after a baby. There is a fine line between working out to create health and working out to cause adrenal and nervous system fatigue and your diet has a lot to do with this. Increasing your caloric intake and making dietary choices that include whole foods with high nutrient values is not only going to support your healing process but also give you enough fuel to move your body through exercise.
Just remember, give yourself some grace, mama! Growing, birthing and raising a human is a workout in itself. Anything extra you can do is a bonus. Some days are going to go better than others and thats OK. Do your best to be consistent over time to yield your best results. And remember, focus on function. The scale may not budge, your clothing size may not change, but if you can move and lift and keep up with your children, you are succeeding!