Babies are wonderful additions to your family (after the first three months, that is) and they also wreak havoc on your body. Besides the obvious weight gain and swelling, you also will probably have sleep deprivation, fatigue and joint pain to contend with after the blessed event. So what can you do to start getting back into shape? First….congratulations! Don’t sell yourself short. Your body has just finished doing something incredible! You grew a human being (or two, in some cases) inside your body!!! Let’s not underestimate that. And if you’re anything like I was you are chomping at the bit to get back into your favorite pair of non-maternity jeans. Tell yourself right now that you will get back in shape and trust the process. I get the impatience. 2 months after I had my twins people were asking me when I was due. That sucked. But the reality is it took 9 months to gain the weight and although it won’t take that long to take it off, it’s not going to happen overnight. But it will happen if you work for it.
Here are some things that worked for me.
1) Listen to your doctor! After my 2 C-sections I was told NO ab work for 6 weeks, and they are not joking. Really bad things can happen. But my doctor also told me I could do other things and to push myself a little more than was comfortable every day.
2) Listen to your body! This is a tie with number one. You will be sore and things will move that didn’t use to move. Don’t be mad at your body for this. Remember the part about growing a person? With baby number one I was jogging after two weeks. With babies number 2&3 I was still struggling to walk after nearly four weeks. My body sent me very clear signals when I was pushing it and yours will too. Listen.
3) Start by walking
Just walking. Walk with your baby. Walk with the dog. Walk with the dog and the baby if you’re coordinated. Walk on the treadmill. This is the best way to ease into your fitness routine again without overstressing your body. One word of caution (and yes, this is from personal experience) don’t walk too far in one direction away from home. It is possible you may hit a wall (and if you do you will have to call someone to come get you and if you insisted you could do it that’s a little embarrassing. Just sayin’).
4) Wear your band
You know that ugly white girdle the hospital gives you, or maybe you bought one online? They work. They keep everything nice and compressed and also help your muscles remember where they are supposed to be. I can’t stress highly enough how great these are for you.
5) Add resistance bands
These are a great way to start toning. I used these all through my pregnancy too. The nice thing is the bands come in all sizes so you can get a little or a lot of resistance. You can isolate upper body so as not to strain anything.
6) Let baby join you right from the start
After my first baby was born, it became obvious that if I didn’t schedule in the fitness time it wouldn’t happen. Because I was home alone with her, it was just necessary that she come with me. She would usually just sleep through my workouts but as she got older she actually seemed to get a kick out of watching me torture myself. This is totally doable until they hit about four months. By that point they are hopefully sleeping late enough that you can get a workout in before they wake up.
So again, congratulations. Try to enjoy this precious time and don’t waste it angsting over thigh size. There are a lot of fun things you can do to get back in shape and as long as you don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat unhealthily for the next five years you’ll be fine.