A fellow active mama and I were chatting over coffee after our Stroller Striders class the other morning. While reminiscing about our racing days and talking about training plans that have since been derailed, we came to the consensus that the whole”bouncing back” after pregnancy concept is a load of crap.
Sure, recovery is one thing. I credit an active pregnancy with being able to get back on my feet fairly quickly after my c-section.
But fitness and performance? That’s another thing entirely.
So in an attempt to set the record straight on the “body after baby” business, I figured I’d share a few of my real-life tips on upping your activity ante post-baby:
1. Go on the offense. I learned firsthand that it’s not so much pregnancy that will sideline you; it’s the fact that you’ll be sitting around for six weeks afterwards recovering, nursing, not sleeping, etc. So start early and often — bank whatever training you can muster while pregnant to keep from going into too much of a deficit after baby’s debut.
2. Wait for the all-clear. As eager as you may be and as great as you may feel, do not disregard your doctor’s orders. Wait until bleeding stops, incisions are healed and you’re given the go ahead from your doctor to resume regular activity. I’ve heard way too many stories of mamas pushing it prematurely only to end up with injuries and other setbacks.
3. Start slooowly. Don’t expect to come out of the gate right where you left off! This was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I made the decision to relish walking and enjoy not working out for six weeks. Think of it as an extended rest and recovery from training — and use the time to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and fight off cabin fever.
4. Take the pyramid approach. When you’re training for a race, you taper down so you peak on the day of the event, right? Well, labor and delivery is the same concept, except in inverse — you slowly decrease intensity and modify exercise as you get more pregnant and then build back up afterwards.
5. Enlist help from a pro. Sometimes it takes an outside voice of reason to make you take it easy, build a solid foundation and help keep things in perspective. And take it from me, it’s well worth the investment to rebuild that core because you’ll need it as baby grows in fits and spurts!
6. Embrace the suck. Know going in that it’s not going to feel great. And expect to end up in a frustrated funk when you realize just how off-balance and generally unfit you feel after having a baby. So set your expectations accordingly, and you’ll have more patience for chipping away slowly at that #mombod.
7. Tag team your little one. A fit mama friend revealed this brilliant approach toward weekend workouts. If you and your hubby are both trying to squeeze in some major training, one person gets priority on Saturday morning while the other person gets dibs on prime workout time on Sunday.
8. Enlist your new workout partner. This took me a while to feel comfortable with, but around two months in, I joined said Stroller Striders class with Wyatt. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…er, if you can’t leave ’em at home, bring ’em along to your workout!
9. Set a major goal with mini milestones. Time flies when you’re tending to a little human, so set some dates on the calendar to get yourself back in the game. For example, my first post-baby race was the recent Wanderlust 5k, which helped get me fired up for Portland Marathon training.
10. Be kind to yourself. Finally, if you do nothing else and take no other advice from me, give yourself a break. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a new mom is that we’re all just trying our best to get by, so a little kindness with the self-talk goes a long way. After all, life has changed dramatically and your priorities have shifted, so your best bet is to take the new twists and turns in your fitness journey in stride!