If you're like me, after nine months of slowly gaining weight, you might be desperate to get back to regular exercise and to start feeling fit and healthy again.
As a mom, I love being able to exercise, get some fresh air, and feel fit and strong. But there are some things I wish I had known about returning to exercise after having a baby.
1. It can feel like everything is going to fall out.
The first time you start to exercise after giving birth, it might feel like everything is literally going to fall out. If you feel heavy "down there" or you feel like something isn't quite right, I would really recommend seeing a gynecologist who can give you a program to make your pelvic floor and core exercise-ready.
From there, you should be able to get a personalized pelvic floor program that will help you build a strong body from the inside out. Focus on regaining strength in your core and pelvic floor before you start higher-intensity exercise. You can also try starting with postnatal Pilates for six weeks before you start more strength-based exercises.
2. You'll have limited core strength
You've spent the past nine months stretching and growing to accommodate your gorgeous baby, so it's really normal to have little or no core strength. But this also means you may not have the coordination you used to have.
It may also mean that you overuse muscles in your lower back and hips to compensate for your lack of core stability. Doing this repeatedly can lead to injury, so ask your gynecologist to check for stomach separation and core strength. He or she can recommend a program to help you to build your core strength.
Also, make sure you're consistent with your core exercises. You can regain your core strength really quickly if you are consistent! Trust me: It's worth it in the long run.
3. You'll feel like you have two watermelons strapped to your chest.
They might be super heavy, one might be bigger than the other, and you might not fit into any of your crop tops. You might be worried about knocking yourself when you run.
Try to time your exercise so that it's right after a feed, and invest in a really good breastfeeding crop top. This was one of the best purchases I made early on.
Also, don't forget to laugh about it!
4. There may be creaking and there may be leaking.
How can I put this delicately? There may be leaking and there may be creaking when you least expect it. Like in the middle of a silent yoga class. And you'll wish that you could just melt into your mat.
There are many reasons why you may experience leaking, but in my experience, leaking is more likely to happen toward the end of a class when your pelvic floor is fatigued or during more high-intensity exercise.
So try to start with low-intensity exercise that doesn't put too much pressure on your pelvic floor, and keep your workouts short. Just 20 minutes is all you need to get a good workout without putting too much stress on your body, and don't forget to keep working on those pelvic floor muscles.
5. It can be frustrating, but it's definitely worth it.
There will be a whole lot of days when you feel like you aren't getting anywhere. There will be a lot of times when you wonder whether it's worth it. There will be millions of moments when you get frustrated that you can't do something that you used to be able to do so easily.
Just remember: Hang in there and believe in yourself. You are making gains, you are improving and it is definitely worth it. You are creating a beautiful example for your children and building a healthy life for you and your family.
And don't forget to celebrate the small victories! Celebrating all those small little improvements you are making will help you to build confidence in your new body and stay on track and motivated.