Guest blogger, Natasha Hastings, is an Olympic, World and US National Champion Track and Field Sprinter. She specializes in the 400 and 4×400 meter relay events and has MANY accolades to her name. She is currently training for the 2021 Olympics.
First and foremost, self care is the priority. Listen closely to what your body (and what your doctor) tells you. Resist the urge to compare your postpartum journey with others. Remind yourself what your body has been through and prioritize rest as you adjust to becoming a mom to your new baby. Postpartum is not the time to become critical of yourself and your healing body.
1. When and how much?
Exercise should begin slowly and increase gradually. After childbirth, you may be excited to feel the way you did pre-pregnancy and you will want to fit right back into your pre-pregnancy clothes. Do not rush the process. Working out and doing too much too soon, can cause more harm to your body than good. Many moms have reported they set themselves back in their recovery process by not following their doctor’s recommendations and refusing to listen to their own body. During these first few months, relax. Stay hydrated. Enjoy the fruits of your labor (literally your child). You will have all the time in the world to get fit again, but you will never get these moments back. A helpful tip is to begin a regular workout routine once your baby is sleeping through the night. That will ensure that you are getting the rest you need to get the best results from your workouts. Sleep is such an important part of the recovery process. If you MUST get back into your jeans, use that same Maeband that helped you wear your pre-pregnancy jeans during your pregnancy. Maeband is great for pregnancy AND postpartum!
2. Heal Completely first!
Do you remember when you were giving birth? First comes baby, then comes…the placenta. Did you know that the placenta is another ORGAN in your body? It was attached to the lining of your uterus for nine months, and in a major way! When it detached, it left what is the equivalent of a large, open wound inside your body (hence the following weeks of bleeding and healing). Now that you are focused on postpartum recovery, are you still bleeding? Listen to your doctors recommendations. There is a reason they recommend to wait until bleeding stops. It takes time for your body to come back together after nine months of working on building a baby from scratch. Additionally, a wound of that magnitude needs time to heal, if you are bleeding, you are still healing. Keep this in mind when considering your recovery process. You just gave birth to your baby AND one of your organs!
3. Make sleep and good nutrition your first priority
Sleep when the baby sleeps, eat when the baby eats? Do laundry when the baby does laundry? Most mothers laugh at this, as we are in a constant game of catching up. Just a gentle reminder that what you eat and the sleep you get are VITAL in your energy and fuel for recovery. Once you begin an exercise routine keep in mind that there are TWO parts to your fitness, your workout and, just as important, the recovery. Resting gives our body a chance to become stronger and more efficient. If you are not getting enough sleep or food, you are not getting the balance your body needs. Without rest you will be more likely to be tired, sore, sick and even be more prone to injury. Keeping your body in a constant state of stress can also leave you feeling hungry all the time. Rest and nutrition go hand in hand to help your body recover efficiently. As a new mom, these two things can be the easiest for us to neglect. If you aren’t feeling rested or energized, turn your focus to getting the sleep you need and eating healthy. You should speak to a nutritionist if needed, to make sure you are getting the proper fuel your body needs. If you are breastfeeding it is especially important to make sure that you and your baby are getting what you need from your food. Our sources of fuel and energy are just as important as our actual workout.
Listen to your body (and your doctor). Don’t workout your body if you won’t be able to give it the rest and nutrition it needs to recover. Self-care is equally as important as baby care.