Postpartum Exercise: Beginning Again After Baby

Tessa's transformation from postpartum to her second son's first birthday, thanks to a steady workout routine and emphasis on clean eating.

The weeks after the birth of your baby are often sleepless and chaotic. While your body is recovering from the birthing process it is also in the midst of many changes; healing, producing milk, and becoming accustomed to limited REM sleep. You might have family and friends visiting and more often than not, you are just trying to get in a daily shower or an extra nap.

Losing weight may not be your top priority at this time but creating a healthy routine during this transition can do wonders for your mood and self esteem. Although every pregnancy and delivery is unique, if you get clearance from your doctor at around six to eight weeks post partum, you can begin to work out again.

It is very important that you are eating enough calories while breastfeeding. If you consume too few calories, you run the risk of depleting your supply. You also need to make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day.

Although breast feeding helps tremendously in calorie reduction (up to 500 calories a day!) it won’t help you add or tone muscle, which is essential for reclaiming the shape you had prior to your pregnancy. A combination of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training usually elicits the best results.

It is important to begin gradually, even if you remained fairly active during your pregnancy. The following is a guide of where to begin, whether you are looking to stay healthy, start a new habit, or just keep your mood up.

  • Walking: Aim for 30 minutes of walking, with or without a stroller, 3 to 4x a week. Add hills if it feels comfortable.
  • Running: Gradually increase to running, roughly 30 minutes, 3x per week, if you were running prior or during your pregnancy.
  • Cardio: Circuits of body weight exercises such as lunges, push-ups, and squats
  • Weights: Light lifting with dumbbells, focusing on core moves such as bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and shoulder presses, 2x per week
  • Yoga: Yoga is great for stretching and using body weight to tone muscles

You should start with what feels comfortable and gradually increase as your fitness improves. As much pressure as you might feel to get back to your pre-baby weight, remember that it will take time. You must treat your body respectfully; it just created an amazing miracle. With persistence and determination you can and will meet your goals.

Tessa Wesnitzer is an ISSA-certified personal trainer and mom of two rowdy young boys. After the birth of her sons she was overweight and lacked confidence. Losing “The Weight” helped her realize her love for fitness and training and lead her to become a personal trainer and lifestyle coach. Her goal is to motivate, inspire, and educate her clients about the benefits of exercising 

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