In the world of social media and carefully curated public personas, there are some women that make it seem like they were able to have a baby one afternoon and be back to their pre-baby physique and life almost instantaneously. The message may be intended to be inspirational – ‘it is possible to get back to normal after having a baby’ – but oftentimes it ends up creating an impossible standard. The reality is that your body undergoes major changes during pregnancy. Even if you leave the hospital or birthing center wearing your pre-pregnancy clothes, there are still elements of your body that are not back to normal. If you are anxious to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and activity level, the best thing to do is to start slow and adjust your workout based on your current physical condition and new life. Three important reasons why you need to work out differently postpartum are that: the changes from pregnancy can linger, you may have new fitness goals, and you are in a new stage of life.
The changes from pregnancy can linger
During pregnancy, your body is flooded with a variety of hormones that are designed to perform various tasks. The hormones relaxin and progesterone are tasked with the jobs of loosening joints and ligaments and relaxing muscles. These hormones basically make you more flexible so your body can better handle the process of giving birth. Once you give birth, it takes time for your joints, muscles, and ligaments to tighten back up to where they were pre-pregnancy. The looser joints and ligaments can cause instability until you have the chance to build up the strength to balance out those changes. You need to make adjustments to your postpartum workout routine in response to the pregnancy-related changes that are still impacting your body.
You have new fitness goals
Your fitness goals now are likely different than the ones you had pre-pregnancy and your workout plan should reflect those differences. Take some time to think about your new fitness goals before you jump back into a workout routine you did before the baby. Do you need to work on strength? Mobility? Flexibility? Do you have any injuries to consider from pregnancy or giving birth? Do you have fat to lose? All of these questions – and others – are important ones to ask as you set your new postpartum fitness goals.
You are in a new stage of life
To say that life is different after having a baby is probably an understatement. There are both big and small changes that come with welcoming a baby into your life. Your schedule, for one, is likely different now that you have a new child. The way you work out may need to be adjusted based on that new schedule and other changes in your life. For example, it may not be feasible for you to leave the house and get to the gym each day. For this stage of life, you may need to choose a program that you can do at home.
It is important to approach working out differently after you have a baby because there are things that have changed. You can get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness level (and even improve upon it) but it will take some time. Working out differently postpartum is about protecting yourself from injury and adjusting to the beautiful and sometimes difficult changes that come with having a baby. At MAPS, we understand that moms have unique needs when it comes to getting fit after baby and we offer programs like MAPS Anywhere and the Fit Mom Bundle to meet those needs.