If you’re like most moms, you’re eager to get back into post-baby fitness, lose the baby weight and get back into a “routine.” Not only have your new leggings from you ordered online finally arrived, but you’ve also sworn to use the dumbbells and jump rope that have been collecting dust since pre-Covid days. The swimsuit you picked out for summer vacation at the beach hangs in your closet as a daily reminder of what you’re working toward. You’ll be fit in no time, right? Not so fast. While we all crave a quick fix, the only thing changing overnight will likely be diapers.
The best results are long-lasting ones. Your post-baby fitness program should be attainable and sustainable. While you may have exercised throughout pregnancy, your body has gone through significant changes during that time. It’s important to take into account everything your body has been through when anticipating the return of that pre-baby body. Eager to get started? Here are our top tips for post-baby fitness.
Establish a Baseline
Just as you would not head to the beach without referencing a map, your fitness program should include an action plan of the habits and choices you’ll incorporate as you progress toward your goals. The first step? Allow yourself time to heal. Every new mom is different, so you will recover at your own rate, with your own symptoms. Most symptoms will be short-term, gradually easing up within a week. Backaches, sore nipples and possible discomfort in the perineum may continue beyond that. Others, such as leaky breasts or an achy back may not get better until your baby is older.
Once you receive clearance from your doctor for post-baby fitness (typically at your 6 week checkup), you can assess your current fitness level. The following will provide you with measurable results throughout your journey. Enroll a spouse or friend to help!
- Photos. Wear fitted clothing and take a front, side and rear photo before starting your program. Retake photos approximately every 8 weeks, in the same place and outfit, at the same time of day.
- Circumference measurements. While the scale can be an accurate tool for measuring progress, it doesn’t take into account the composition of your body – meaning how much of your weight is muscle, fat, water, bone, organs, etc. Instead, take circumference measurements. Record your chest, waist, hips, thigh, calf and each arm. Remeasure approximately every 8 weeks.
- Rate your habits. On a scale from 1-10 (10 being excellent), record how you feel toward the following. Reassess approximately every 8 weeks.
- Sleep habits
- Nutrition habits
- Hydration habits
- Stress level
- Ability to destress
- Level of activity
If you’re a chronic multi-tasker, get ready to give up that bad habit. With a newborn, your time is not your own. You’ll soon master the art of making coffee with one hand. Using the bathroom? Invest in a baby carrier or plan on setting your little in a bouncy seat alongside the toilet. Breastfeeding moms will learn to master the art of sitting in one spot, without the ability to get up and change laundry, wash the dishes or make lunch. It’s important to accept this and find ways to be efficient with the time you do have. You might be (temporarily) saying goodbye to your 60-minute yoga class or 5-mile run. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave your workouts behind entirely.
Focus on staying active, incorporating small increments of movement into your day. Family walks are an excellent way for everyone to get some fresh air and log some steps. Babies are generally most tired after a feeding, so take advantage of this time and use it for any exercises you have planned. You don’t need a fancy home gym. Basic items like a jump rope, dumbbells, mat and resistance bands will go a long way. Don’t have any of those? Give this body weight routine a try! Complete 2-3 rounds.
- Jumping Jacks 30 seconds
- Squats 20x
- Heel Raises 20x
- High Knee Run 30 seconds
- Alternating Reverse Lunges 20x
- Full Arm Plank 15-30 seconds
- Jump Rope (with rope or in place) 30 seconds
- Plie 20x
- Wall Sit 15-30 seconds
Surrender to the idea of completing the entire workout at once. If your baby fusses during your 2nd set of jumping jacks and you have to change a dirty diaper, pick up where you left off, when you can. The art of “letting go” will do wonders for your need to be perfect.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Throughout pregnancy, it’s important to consume nutrient-rich foods and adequate calories to support the growth and development of the baby. Protein ensures growth of the baby’s tissues and organs. Calcium helps build your baby’s bones and supports healthy fluid levels. Folate reduces the risk of neural tube defects. Iron ensures there is enough oxygen production by increasing blood flow. As easy as it is to pull through the drive through or grab a morning donut with the reasoning “I’m eating for 2,” the foods you eat should be full of vitamins and minerals as well.
Once the baby arrives, mama’s diet still needs to be a priority. You’ve just spent 9 months making a baby and a poor diet, along with stress on your body, can increase your risk of postpartum depression and slow your recovery. If you’re breastfeeding, your diet will benefit both you and your newborn. Nursing moms should aim for 10 to 15 glasses of water a day to satisfy thirst and produce enough breast milk. Adequate hydration will support the rebuilding of your body. Anti-inflammatory foods will help heal your body and protect your mental health. Examples include vegetables, fruits and berries, iron-rich proteins, coconut oil, salmon, quinoa, oats and yogurt.
During pregnancy and afterward, if you need convenience, look for simple solutions such as fruit and nut butter, Greek yogurt or on-the-go snacks like Crispy Fruit. Crispy Fruit comes in a variety of flavors such as Banana, Apple, Strawberry and Pineapple. These freeze-dried fruits are free of added sugars and preservatives. They contain an entire 95% nutritional value of fresh fruit! Rember, without adequate fuel, your body cannot function at its best.
Let Go of the Guilt
Your priority is to raise a child that is healthy, happy and loved. In order to do that, you must be the best version of yourself. A post-baby fitness program will create a new version of you, not necessarily the “pre-baby” body you once had. There will come a time when you’re with your baby and you’ll feel guilty that you’re not working out. There will also come a time when you’re working out and you’ll feel guilty that you’re not with your baby. An infant cannot thrive in an environment where mom is sleep deprived, over caffeinated, run down and worn out. At this stage in life, you are your child’s No. 1 role model. Think about the qualities and behaviors you want your child to have – patience, good health, happiness. Then put those behaviors into practice, for yourself and your little one.
Hi! My name is Megan. I’m a Certified Personal Trainer and new mom to my rainbow baby, Clancy. Megan Meisner Fitness emphasizes activity, nutrition and restoration. In a world that overwhelms us with diet plans, new workout routines and the latest “stress-busting, abs-lusting” claims, my fitness community will help you silence the distractions and focus on mindfulness, self awareness and support to reach your goals. The emphasis is on progression, not perfection. Read more about Megan in her SLB Spotlight.