Pregnancy takes a lot out of you. It’s 40 weeks in which your body is constantly changing, working hard, growing, and developing.
It’s physically and mentally exhausting, and that’s even before you get to the birth itself, which is one of the most physically demanding things you could ever go through.
It’s normal that it takes time to recover, but so many of us are guilty of trying to rush back to normal.
We’re disappointed when we haven’t lost our baby weight within a few weeks, and we find it very hard to accept that our fitness levels aren’t going to be what they were.
Regaining fitness postpartum is important. Building stamina and cardiovascular health can help us to cope with the demands of caring for a newborn. Exercise is great for your mental health and gaining fitness can be a fantastic confidence boost for any new mom.
However, it’s important to do it slowly and carefully. Here are some tips to help you to gain fitness in the weeks and months following the birth of your child.
1. Don’t Stress About Weight
It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy, and not just the weight of the baby, water, and placenta. You’ll also gain fat. Maybe quite a lot of it. It’s okay.
If you spend time stressing about weight gain, you won’t enjoy time with your baby, and your confidence will slip. Instead, focus on regaining fitness, and on all the positives of exercise.
If you regain fitness and prioritize nutrition, you will lose the baby weight.
2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
The saying goes that it took nine months to gain weight, so it will take nine months to lose it but that doesn’t just apply to weight.
Your body spends nine months growing and changing, and you had nine months where growing a baby was much more important than hitting fitness goals.
Give yourself time and don’t expect fast results.
3. Make Nutrition a Priority
Nutrition is important at any stage of life, but perhaps more so when you are pregnant or recovering from pregnancy and your body needs more support than usual.
Make sure you are fueling your body well with plenty of fruit and veg and a well-balanced diet. Vitamin supplements are also important when it comes to supporting a healthy pregnancy and gaining strength postpartum. But it’s important to understand that your body has different needs during and after pregnancy.
Needed offers important information on prenatal vs postnatal vitamins, to help ensure you are taking the right supplements to support every step of your parenting journey.
Make sure you are taking the right vitamins for the right stage to help you to stay fit and healthy before, during, and after pregnancy.
4. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is incredibly important when we exercise, and even more so when our bodies perhaps aren’t used to it and are also busy recovering from pregnancy and childbirth.
Make sure you sip water while you exercise, and that you rehydrate for the rest of the day.
5. Listen to Your Body
It can take months for your body to recover from pregnancy, and so it’s more important than ever that you listen to it when you start exercising again.
Rest if you need to, reduce your workouts if they are uncomfortable, and don’t push yourself so hard that you ache the day after.
6. Set Realistic Goals
You aren’t going to run a marathon or hit your PBs in the first few months and you shouldn’t expect to. Instead, set yourself small goals, like walking for 30 minutes, and build up very slowly from there.
7. Up Your Protein Intake
Protein is very important. It helps your muscles to recover and grow after exercise. It also increases your energy levels, lowers blood pressure, and can be good for your bones.
Try to increase the protein in your diet by eating chicken, eggs, fruit and vegetables, almonds, and yogurt. If you are worried about your protein intake, consider adding a supplement.
8. Practice Yoga
Yoga is one of the best ways to build muscles and flexibility gradually, without putting any excess pressure on your body. It can also help to build stamina, give you a chance to get back into a routine.
Yoga can also be very good for your mental health, giving you a chance to take some time for yourself, easing stress and tension, and helping you to unwind.
9. Enjoy the Peace of Walking
Walking is fantastic exercise. It will improve your posture, help you to build strength and stamina, and perhaps most importantly, it will give you some valuable peace.
Whether you are walking alone or with your baby in a pram or sling, you’ll get some quiet time to think or to listen to audiobooks and podcasts.
Try to get out for a walk every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. You’ll soon start to gain fitness and strength safely and gradually, but you’ll also enjoy vast mental health benefits.
10. Add Strength Training
Strength training helps us to build muscles, which can increase our cardio performance and fitness, and help us to lose weight.
Adding strength training after pregnancy can help your muscles to recover and grow.
In the first few weeks, or months depending on your childbirth experience, avoid exercises that put pressure on your core, instead of focusing on your arms and legs.
11. Sleep as Much as You Can
Your body needs rest to recover and to gain fitness, but sleeping isn’t easy with a newborn around. Sleep as much as you can, rest when sleep isn’t an option, and ask for help when you need to. If you want to gain postpartum fitness, sleeping is crucial.
Regaining strength and fitness after you’ve had a baby isn’t just good for your body. It can also give you independence, help you to maintain a sense of self, and ease the baby blues.
It’s certainly worth committing time to fitness and good health.