January 4th, 2022
Becoming a parent is a beautiful and challenging time full of unknowns. One of those for many new mothers is when and how to safely re-introduce exercise after having a baby. While we always recommend discussing this with your healthcare provider, here are a few general things you should know – to ensure you don’t do more harm than good out of the gate.
How to re-introduce exercise after having a baby
1. Determine Whether You Have Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti happens when the abdominal muscles separate due to the pressure on the abdominal wall. Many women develop this during pregnancy, though some don’t. It’s important to know whether you have it because certain exercises (like any kind of abdominal crunch) can make it worse and lead to/exacerbate back pain, hip injuries, strains, poor posture, and more.
It is ideal to be assessed by a professional – but if that’s not an option, here’s how to test for yourself:
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet are flat on the ground.
- Place your hand, fingers down, on the midline of your abdominal area, just above your belly button.
- Place your other hand behind your head for support.
- Slowly lift your head.
- Feel for tone at the midline. If there is no tone and/or your fingers sink in, you might have diastasis recti.
Usually, diastasis recti heals on its own within a few months. However, it may take longer for other individuals, depending on the severity of your condition. Either way, it’s important to avoid any exercises that will make it worse unless and until yours is healed fully.
2. Understand Your Body
Pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding all create varying degrees of physiological stress, which can slow – or stall – fat loss.
Why does this happen? Stress increases the levels of cortisol in the body, which promotes fat storage. Higher amounts of estrogen observed during the postnatal period also contribute to increased fat and water storage. These physiological traits haven’t changed much since when our ancestors survived off of small amounts of food in a cold cave; they are designed to ensure your and your baby’s survival.
So, go easy on yourself, remember that your body has just made a whole other human being and that fat loss will come with time. Instead, we suggest you keep your goals health-focused during this time, which leads right into our next point.
3. Consider Your Whole Health
While everyone has different goals, it’s always important to zoom out and focus on your health as a whole. Instead of focusing on cosmetic or aesthetic goals, work on healthy habits that will help you be the best version of yourself and parent to your child.
Movement and healthy eating can absolutely be part of this plan – and, if you’d like some customized support in these areas, we’re here to help.
Your Highest State of Health
Our team of virtual and in-home personal trainers in Toronto are here to help you achieve your goals and your highest state of health. We can create a customized plan just for you, ensure you are doing safe and healthy movements for the stage you’re at, and help you progress as appropriate over time. Click here to reach out and/or request a free first workout to learn more.