Jenni Diamond is Pre/Postnatal Trainer and Occupational Therapist. Through her platform Jenni Diamond Health, Jenni helps new and expecting moms/birthing individuals exercise safely through evidence-based exercise programs.
Getting back into a postpartum workout plan can feel challenging. Your body has gone through so many changes, and your daily routine is completely different now. But don’t worry! Even with all these changes you can still become strong and enjoy the amazing benefits of exercise. Here are six realistic tips to help you improve your fitness after having a baby:
1. Be realistic with where you’re at
Your body has undergone significant changes during pregnancy, labour, and the postpartum period. More than that, your life responsibilities have changed and now involve caring for a new little one. When determining your fitness goals, make sure to take into account your current physical abilities, energy levels, and time constraints. Embrace the postpartum period as a time of healing and allow yourself to ease back into your new routine slowly but surely.
2. Choose activities you love
Engaging in activities you genuinely enjoy is key to staying motivated and consistent with your postpartum fitness routine. Whether it's walking, strength training, dancing, or spinning postpartum, the best activity to start with is the one that brings you joy, while also being appropriate for your current fitness level. Starting with something you love will make it easier to establish a routine and gradually incorporate more intense workouts over time. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity and duration of exercises as needed.
3. Prioritize pelvic floor health
Your pelvic floor is a key component of your health that should not be overlooked. The muscles in your pelvic floor are responsible for various functions, including supporting your internal organs, regulating bladder and bowel movements, and contributing to sexual function. Pregnancy and labour can impact how the pelvic floor muscles function. Prioritize pelvic floor exercises for optimal health and to rebuild strength and stability in this area. Consult with a healthcare professional or a pelvic floor therapist to learn proper techniques and exercises tailored to your specific needs.
4. Monitor for red flag symptoms
As you transition back into exercise, make sure to pay attention to any red flag symptoms that might occur, such as pain, leaking urine, or heaviness in the pelvic area. These signs or symptoms could indicate the need for medical assessment and treatment by a pelvic therapist and/or your primary care provider. If you experience any of these symptoms, or any other symptoms of concern, consult your healthcare provider for evaluation.
5. Incorporate a combination of strength training and cardio activities
Including both strength training and cardio exercises can help you best reach your overall fitness goals postpartum. Strength training exercises, such as bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, or weights, will help rebuild muscle strength and improve posture. Aim to target each major muscle group at least 1-2 times per week. Cardiovascular activities, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, enhance heart health and boost energy levels. Aim for 3-5 days a week of cardio activities. Ultimately, a well-rounded routine that incorporates both types of exercises will help you achieve optimal results.
6. Find an accountability buddy
Navigating the postpartum fitness journey can be challenging, and having a support system can make a significant difference in your ability to achieve your goals. Find an accountability buddy who can join you on this path, whether it's a friend, partner, or fitness coach. Having someone to share your goals, progress, and challenges with will provide encouragement, motivation, and help you stay on track.
Improving your fitness in the postpartum period requires patience, empathy, and a realistic approach. Know that everyone’s recovery timeline will look different, and try to avoid self-comparison during this process. Pay attention to how your own body feels with exercise and what feels right (or doesn’t) for you. Embrace the journey and celebrate each step forward, knowing that you are taking positive steps towards a healthier, stronger you.
Note: This post is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice or treatment from your healthcare provider. Always follow the advice of your primary care provider when making decisions about your health and well-being.