Updated: Apr 26
One of the aspects of postpartum that can be tough to navigate is your return to fitness. There’s a misconception out there that once your doctor gives you the all-clear at your 6-week checkup, that means that you can return to all your pre-pregnancy activities immediately. This isn’t necessarily the case.
Here are 3 things you need to know when returning to fitness postpartum:
1. You Won't Get Back to Fitness as Soon as You Would Like
I should say that you probably shouldn’t get back to fitness as soon as you’d like, because many women jump into a hardcore workout routine much to quickly postpartum. They assume that since their doctor cleared them, they are completely ready for anything – which is not necessarily true. In the early weeks and even months postpartum you need to build a foundation for your return to fitness. You need to focus on breath and reconnecting your mind to your body. You need to focus on healing your pelvic floor. Without these things, your return to fitness is going to be rocky and full of set-backs. You’re going to end up dealing with a lot of frustration that could have been avoided if you had built that solid foundation to return to the type of fitness that you love.
2. Your Body Will Feel Like It's Not Yours
So many things about your body change during pregnancy and delivery. Not to mention the hormones that hit postpartum as well. You’re going to be experiencing so many emotions and physical symptoms that you might be completely overwhelmed. It may make you desperate to return to fitness to find some sense of normalcy amidst all the chaos. But if you haven’t built a solid foundation for your return to fitness, you may end up even more frustrated as you find it’s hard to perform movements or participate in activities that were completely normal for you pre-pregnancy. Your mind will be telling your body to do something, and your body returns a resounding “No!”. Neural pathways have to be created in this new body of yours. Your body has to relearn to connect with your mind and perform movements you used to do all the time. You have to start at the beginning with the basics. You have to give your body grace and be patient with yourself as you learn to move in this new body.
3. You're Going to Have to Go Slow
You aren’t going to be able to start running marathons or doing power cleans as soon as you are given the all-clear from your doctor. As I’ve mentioned already, a foundation has to be built, your body has to relearn itself before you can get back to all of the fitness avenues that you love! In the postpartum period, slow is fast. The more time you take to let yourself heal, recover, and relearn itself, the fewer frustrations and difficulties you will have down the road. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Your journey is your own and you have a different set of considerations and priorities than everyone else. There is no set timeline for you to return to the level of fitness you were at before pregnancy. Take your time, take it slow, and give your body and your mind the time they need to return to fitness appropriately.
There is so much pressure for new moms to “get their bodies back” and return to fitness with vigor – like their bodies didn’t just go through incredible changes for the past 10 months! Don’t let that pressure get to you. Never feel like you have to compare yourself to those around you. The truth is, your body may have changed in ways that will never return to their pre-pregnancy state and that’s totally ok. You gave birth to a tiny human! Build your foundation, reconnect your mind and body, and take it slow. Eventually, you’ll be able to get back to all of the activities that you love – what’s the rush? Give your baby and yourself the time and attention you both need postpartum. Fitness will always be there whenever you are ready to return.