In an effort to get back into shape fast, new moms often start high-impact, high-intensity exercises too soon, resulting in a number of issues that may last for years to come. What I wasn't told when I had my first baby is that the first 16 weeks postpartum is a critical time to allow your body to heal–from the inside out. After your baby is born, you have an incredible human in your arms, but you're left with an unfamiliar body. Your organs have been displaced, your hormones are awry, you are sleep deprived, and feeling soft around the middle.
As a mom, nutritionist, and fitness professional with over 16 years of experience working with prenatal and postpartum women, the question that I get from new moms almost every day is, “When will I get my body back?” The reality is that when your jeans don't fit and you feel doughy all over, the last thing you want to hear is, “Nine months up, nine months down.” Is this an ‘old wives tale' or is it reality? I can honestly say that this saying holds just a little bit of bit of truth. The first nine months postpartum are a roller coaster of hormonal fluctuations. I recommend that new moms wait at least nine months (or longer) to try on their pre-pregnancy jeans. Every mom experiences a different recovery period, just like every pregnancy and delivery is unique–we just don't talk about what's going on with our bodies as much as we talk about our birth stories.
New moms often feel frustrated, shameful, and insecure about how much their bodies have changed after the birth of their baby. Finding a safe space to talk about your new mom body is as important as finding the right type of fitness class for you and your baby. The challenges that new moms experience go beyond fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans or contemplating if a bikini will ever adorn your newfound curves again. Wrist pain, back pain, urinary leakage, pain or discomfort during sex, and a separation of the abdominal muscles (known as diastasis recti) are just a few of the common physical issues that new moms experience in the first six to 16 weeks postpartum–and beyond.
What's a mom to do?! Follow these four simple tips to ease your recovery.
- No more crunches. Sit ups, roll-ups, scissors, and bicycle movements designed to strengthen your abs actually create an incredible amount of intra-abdominal pressure, resulting in pelvic floor and abdominal recovery issues.
- Stop running. Take a temporary break from high-impact exercises such as jumping and running, which can make your core issues worse. Look for low-to-no impact ways to get your heart rate up and break a sweat such as indoor cycling, power walking, and strength training.
- Nutrition matters. Eat more plants, stop counting calories, and drink a lot of water. Stay away from isolated vitamins and opt for whole food nutrition from fruits and vegetables to nourish your body from the inside out.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Speak to a licensed Core9 Birth Recovery provider or a licensed physical therapist who specializes in women's health to determine the severity of your issues. Most moms are able to see results in a four week course, focused on birth recovery or diastasis repair.
So what are you waiting for? Take care of your body now–it's the only one you've got!