|Liv was totally not supposed to be in this pic, but hearing the self-timer on my camera going she jumped in and said cheese! Hahaha!|
Happy Friday! I hope all of you have had a great week thus far! Today I'm posting about my postpartum fitness routine! I'll be 7 weeks postpartum tomorrow, and just started my pre-pregnancy fitness routine (lots of weight lifting) back at the gym this week. But prior to this I was only doing a couple of really low impact exercises at home, which I'll share in part 1 of this series. Before getting into, I want to say address a couple of things.
When to start
Most women don't like hearing this, but the best time to start exercising for your best postpartum body is before you get pregnant. The biggest predictor of what you'll look like post-baby? How you looked pre-baby. So getting in shape before you're pregnant is important. Below I'm sharing photos of me pre-Liv, post-Liv, and then the day before I had Elli! Staying fit during pregnancy is also incredibly important. With working my intern-year schedule and having a toddler at home my "fitness routine" during this second pregnancy didn't involve not one trip to the gym - it was more making the effort to stay as active as possible. I was always on my feet at the hospital and consistently taking the stairs (and walking them just for exercise when I had the time), going on long walks with Liv, and eating pretty much the same way I was pre-pregnancy. I gained 40 pounds this pregnancy (pretty much the same I gained the last pregnancy as well), going from 110 to 150 the day before delivering.
But with all that said, most of you who will be reading this are likely already postpartum! And that's ok too! So when to start exercising? I mention the first 6 weeks in the photo above, but this was just what I felt comfortable with given an easy and uncomplicated vaginal delivery. With Liv I had a complicated delivery and I barely felt like I could walk or sit comfortably after a couple of weeks postpartum, never mind exercise! So keep your delivery in mind - if you had a C-section or a complicated vaginal delivery, make sure to ask your physician and to listen to your body.
Breastfeeding and exercising
One of the biggest things I hear about postpartum exercising is the effect it could have on milk production if a woman is breastfeeding. Remember that an adequate supply requires 1) water and 2) calories. So exercising most definitely can affect your supply. To prevent that, make sure that you are drinking tons of water if you're being active and eating enough calories. I'm not dieting at all and I don't think you should be dieting if you're breastfeeding - you're loosing plenty of calories through that alone! Also remember not to wear a tight-fitting sports bra! Do you know what doctors recommend to women who want to decrease their supply/not breastfeed? Sports bras. Sports bras and ice packs. I still wear them, but I have a couple that are two-sizes larger than my normal size so that they aren't really compressing my chest. This is beyond what I'm talking about in this post, but now that I'm going to the gym again I also make sure to pump right before I leave.
Diastesis Recti - or split abs
Many women (including myself) have split abs postpartum. For these women it's important to not do traditional exercises like sit ups and squats before they're healed, as this can actually make them worse. Some people will say not to do any exercise at all, so keep that in mind when deciding what you should do. I wanted to do something, so I really focused on strengthening my core once my split was smaller than 2 finger widths apart. If yours is still larger than that (mine took longer to close with Liv) you should hold off on any of the exercises below. An awesome reader who also happens to be a prenatal and postpartum kinesiologist says this "Be careful with front planks and any quadruped work if you are still experiencing a gap along the linea alba greater than 2 finger widths."
The most important thing you can do
The most important thing you can do first and foremost? Remember to always engage your core. This doesn't mean sucking in your belly - what I'm doing in the picture on the right (and I can't breathe). It means squeezing your abs and pulling your belly button in - when you do this you should be able to breathe completely normally. Remembering to do this pretty much all the time will start to tone your muscles that will tighten up your waist - even if you never do any other "exercises." Your posture will also improve! So do this!
Ok, now to the exercises. I don't really have a set schedule for when I workout, it almost always just depends on how much time I have and how busy I am at home, but thankfully Liv likes my exercise time and will even mimic me which is tons of fun. All of these exercise target my two most important areas - abs and glutes! Remember to engage your core during every one of these exercises. I included video links for each exercise that you should definitely watch to make sure you're doing them properly!
1. Planks (video) - This involves resting on your forearms and lifting your body off of the ground, and holding it for a set amount of time. You can count if you want, but one fun thing you can do is listen to music and hold it during the chorus)!
2. Donkey Kicks (video) - This involves getting on your hands and knees and lifting your foot up. You really want to image yourself pushing the ceiling up with the bottom of your foot.
3. Fire Hydrants (video) - This involves getting on your hands and knees and lifting your leg up beside you (like a dog peeing on a fire hydrants lol).
4. Kickbacks (video) - This involves standing up, then kicking one leg behind you, squeezing your glutes at the top of each one.
For exercises 2-3 I usually like to do at least 3 sets of 20 reps on each side (meaning for example you kick your right leg back 20 times, then your left leg 20 times (= one set), and do this 3 times).
As far as cardio, I really didn't do much (out of concern for diminished supply), but I was still doing lots of walking with our double stroller.
The case for "waist-training"
Waist-training is the newest craze, and honestly, I'm not a huge fan. Personally I think the desire to have a tiny waist is just another unrealistic expectation placed on women on top of all of those that already exist. But, having said that, I do totally understand the desire to get your waist back to where it once was (ie getting back to your natural waist, and not down to some barbie-like measurements - and of course if that's what you want there's nothing wrong with that either). So much so that I bought a corset myself interested to try it out; post-Liv, as much as I got my abs back, I did feel that my waist was still wider than it was pre-baby. I bought this one because it was one of the best-rated, and after doing my research it appears that most of those latex trainers are just a waist of money, and that steel-boned corsets are the way to go. And it was really reasonably priced. I still haven't used it much, and I don't actually know if they work or not (I'd rather just work out), but I'll check back in if I use it more!
Corset info: here
I hope those of you who were interested in my postpartum fitness routine found this piece useful! In a couple of weeks I'll come back with a part 2 that includes what I do now that I'm back in the gym!