As a general rule, you can start light to moderate exercise within a day or two of delivery, provided you experienced no complications during pregnancy. But like any exercise program, how much you do and when you begin is a matter of your current circumstances and physical condition.
Frankly, you are likely to be way too tired to do so for a couple of weeks. Suffice it to say, be sure to ask your doctor about resuming your workout after pregnancy.
The free Fitness Report Card is a great way to assess where you are after a pregnancy; and you can use it now!
Having a baby is certainly a life altering experience, especially when we're talking about your first child. The stress of motherhood is such that many new mothers have a hard time getting back to normal for months (some say years!) after the birth of the baby. Yet exercise is one of the best things you can do because it helps you lose weight, gets your metabolism back to normal, and re-energizes you altogether.
Should I gradually increase my workout after having a baby?
Labor and delivery is extremely taxing regardless of how healthy mom is. You should always use caution and resume your workout slowly and gradually. In other words, if you ran a couple of miles per day and went to the gym three times per week, it's not smart or safe to resume that right away. Your doctor will most likely prefer that you start out with light exercises like walking, Pilates, and Kegel exercises. These will get you moving again without putting too much stress on your body.
One thing to keep in mind about your postpartum workout routine is that getting out of the house can be quite helpful. New moms hate to leave their babies alone for even a few minutes, so they often spend weeks, or even months, never leaving the house. Trust dad or another loved one; leave the baby with for a half-hour and go for a walk or jog. The fresh air and open space will not only enhance your exercise, but it will open your mind and help refresh your thoughts.
When can I get back to my old routine?
Experienced mothers are well aware of the changes their bodies go through during pregnancy. There are hanges like weakened pelvic and abdominal muscles that first-time mothers may be oblivious to. That said, you may be mentally ready to get back to your old routine only to find that you can't physically do the exercises. This is normal. You have to work your way back into it.
In most cases mothers should be able to return to their normal routine, albeit not as intense, within 3 to 4 weeks of delivery. As long as you and the baby were healthy during pregnancy, you should be fine getting back to the same exercises you used to do and gradually building up to your previous level of intensity.
Just remember that motherhood is exhausting- even without the exercise. So while your intentions may be good, you may be trying to return to your old workout within three to four weeks, but have trouble reaching your old level of intensity for six to twelve months.
Should I change my workout routine after having a baby?
It's generally recommended that you don't change your workout routine simply for the sake of changing. When we do change it's because we're looking to achieve results that our current program is not providing. In the case of a postpartum woman, she may now have different goals than she had before pregnancy. Especially if you were slim prior to the pregnancy and now have 10 or 20 extra pounds to lose. In that case, you should change your workout program to accommodate weight loss goals.
If your exercise goals have not changed, and what you were doing before worked for you, then return to it when you're ready. If you'd like to add new exercises or get rid of some of the old ones, just be sure anything new is effective in helping you reach your goals. If you're unsure what your goals should be as a new mother, feel free to talk to other mothers, your doctor, a personal trainer, and even local mom support groups. You'll be amazed at the number of great ideas that are out there!
Getting back to your workout after having a baby is one of the best things you can do as a new mother. You'll find that it's healthy not only for your body, but also your soul and your spirit. And as a bonus, you can even involve your baby by doing something like pushing a stroller as you jog. How cool is that?