You may not realise how much time your body needs to ease back into exercise postpartum. You may think that your body is able to go back into the pre-pregnancy exercise routine after 6 weeks of postpartum. Your body may have other plans. Postpartum is a full body experience. It affects you physically (internally and physically), mentally and emotionally. You may have baby blues, diastasis recti, pelvic floor issues, and/or other postpartum symptoms.
No matter how fit you were and how strict you were with following a fitness routine, you may find it hard to get back into exercising. After all, it took around 40 weeks to form the pregnant body. It can take as long as 40 weeks (or more!) to get back to your pre-pregnancy body. This is a transformation that requires patience and realistic expectations. It is important to listen to your body before jumping into postpartum exercise.
Starting slow is key in this recovery journey. Putting yourself in a higher exercise intensity than what your body can handle will put you a few steps back. Once you feel ready during the first 6 weeks of postpartum, you may start with a 5 minutes walk around the block. If you do not feel achy or there is no bleeding or other side effect, you may then gradually increase the duration of the walk by 1 minute each time. After about 1 to 2 weeks of consistent walks with no issues, you may start doing light postpartum exercises.
Postpartum exercises do not only focus on losing weight. They are also there to help strengthen muscles that have been weakened in the 40 weeks of pregnancy. These muscles include the core muscles in the tummy area and the pelvic floor muscles. Exercises such as bridge, squats and kegels are great postpartum exercises.
Paying attention to how your body reacts to exercises will help you be on the right track. While exercising may be a no-brainer to losing postpartum weight, eating enough and healthily is also important as your body does require the proper nutrients to help it recover. Staying hydrated will also help.
Above all, rest! Giving your body the time to rest is also part of listening to your body. When you are feeling rested and restored, you will then be able to offer much more to those who need you.