~How I got my body back after baby~
Today I’m talking about getting your body back after baby. I’m not exactly where I was pre-baby, but I like to think of myself as a constant work in progress. I have a whole new respect for my body now that I have had a baby and I must say women are just so strong. My husband actually admitted the other night that he could never have done it after watching me go through labor. I must say, I think I have to agree with him! I created this blog because I want to share my knowledge in my field and everything I’ve learned from my personal experiences becoming a mom for the first time. I want my blog posts to be real, honest and humorous about the journey back to fitness after having a baby.
~This post may contain affiliate links, all opinions are my very own~
I remember clearly the day after I delivered my daughter; I finally got to shower and I looked in the mirror wondering why I still looked about 6-7 months pregnant! Nobody told me about this part! So let’s get real. I will not lie, my number one tip for getting your body back after baby is to stay fit and active throughout your pregnancy. Was this easy? Absolutely not. During the first trimester I felt so sick for most of it and during the third I felt so tired, big and swollen that exercising was sometimes the last thing I wanted to do. This was difficult for me because I was in the best shape I have ever been in before I became pregnant and I had worked so hard to get there. Before children (BC as my husband and I call it), we used to spend 1-2 hours in the gym every night after work. My husband and I even met at the gym! Learning to scale back and listen to my body was extremely challenging but life just wasn’t about me anymore! So how did I do it? I have listed below my top 10 tips for getting your best body after baby while making sure you take good care of yourself and your babe!
The picture on the left is me at 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant ( the day before I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl), and the picture on the right is me 3 months post partum.
- Stay active during your pregnancy. If you were an avid exerciser before you became pregnant and your doctor clears you for exercise, continue to do so. If you don’t feel up to your normal exercise routine or you are new to exercise, starting on a daily walking program is a great way to stay active. My doctor personally recommended a 30 minute walk daily. Staying active during your pregnancy not only keeps you from gaining excessive weight, but it helps to maintain strength, improve blood flow, ease aches/pains and improve posture.
- Drink plenty of water! It is so important to stay hydrated during and after pregnancy, especially if you are breastfeeding. As a rule of thumb, I have always tried to drink a gallon of water a day. I probably drank more than this while I was pregnant because I was so thirsty all the time! Staying hydrated keeps you fuller longer and prevents you from retaining excessive water weight.
- Eat healthy, but don’t restrict yourself too much! I was so hungry during my second and third trimesters and I did not deprive myself! I ate a healthy diet during my pregnancy because I knew it was best for my babe but I also allowed myself to splurge a little! I gave into my cravings and allowed myself to enjoy my favorite foods in moderation! I had my weekly bagel ( oh how I missed bagels), mint chocolate chip ice cream as a Friday night treat, and dark chocolate after a long work day. I mean come on, I can’t have my glass of red wine or my favorite latte, so I a girl needs something right? Post partum I did not focus on restricting calories initially for two reasons: 1) I do not calorie count 2) I was breastfeeding and so hungry ( ok ravenous!). Instead, I focused on eating whole, non-processed foods and avoiding excessive sugar. It also helped that I had my mom with me for the first three weeks who is just the best cook in the world, and makes only healthy ( yet so tasty) dishes.
- Breastfeeding! I know not every mother can or chooses to breastfeed and that it is a very personal decision. I personally chose to breastfeed but wow was this the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. I literally felt like I should just walk around my house topless because breastfeeding was pretty much all I did during my maternity leave. I will go into more detail in my pregnancy posts, but in the end breastfeeding was the best decision for me and my baby and 7 months in we are still going strong. I truly feel as though breastfeeding helped me lose a significant amount of weight especially in those first few weeks. I could literally feel my uterus contracting when I fed my daughter; our bodies are amazing! I wish I could say breastfeeding was a beautiful blissful experience for me, but in truth it was so frustrating and demanding that some days I wanted to give up. I am so happy that I stuck with it because my baby is getting just what she needs and I am finally in a comfortable routine. Did you know the average breastfeeding mother burns about 500 calories a day from nursing? Therefore, breastfeeding can significantly assist in post partum weight loss.
- Wear a compression garment. I wore my Belly Bandit as soon as I got home from the hospital and it worked wonders for me! Not only did it help to shrink my belly but it gave me wonderful support that I felt as though I really needed. My abdominals were so weak and I was having some pelvic discomfort for the first 2-3 weeks when I walked. Each time I put the Belly Bandit on I felt so much better! I wore this for the first month post partum, then I began to focus on building abdominal strength. The belly bandit is one of my personal favorite post partum products!
- Be kind to yourself. Most doctors like you to wait until your 6 week follow up appointment to begin your normal exercise routine again. I was anxious to get back to my workouts at 2 weeks. However, I knew my body was still healing, and to be honest I was so sleep deprived that any free second I did have to myself ( which was not much) I tried to sleep. I did begin a walking program with my baby right away and that was a great way to get out of the house and move my body even just a little bit. At about 3 weeks post partum I began some body weight and gentle abdominal exercises. Go figure, sometimes the only way my baby would calm down was when I held her and did squats. At 6 weeks, I made it back to the gym but I started slowly and began getting back to lifting my pre baby weight at about 3-4 months post partum.
- Walking! I began walking right away after I had my baby because it felt so good just to move a little bit and get out of the house! I’m blessed to live in the south, because even though I gave birth in December, it was still relatively warm. My baby loves her stroller so walking worked well to calm her down when she was fussy too!
- Strength training! I cannot over emphasize enough that lifting weights will not make you bulky. Building muscle speeds up your metabolism, tones your body and will help you lose weight. Before I met my husband, I ran marathons and would train for hours and hours, with very little time left over for strength training. I was still not in the shape I wanted to be in. When my husband and I started dating, I began lifting weights with him at the gym and started my yoga training. My body has transformed so much once I began a serious strength training program. Today, I really don’t do a lot of cardio, and when I do it’s usually HIIT style workouts because I need to get a workout in as quickly as I can! You can check out my favorite strengthening moves for leg day ( and a better booty) here and my favorite upper body workout here!
- Find time whenever you can squeeze it in! Making time to exercise is sometimes half the battle. I thought I was going to have all the time in the world to get things done when I was on maternity leave. I laugh at my pre baby self all the time! There were some days where I was lucky if I brushed my teeth. So I decided that I needed to do something to get back to my active lifestyle. I would take my baby for walks, do lunges with her in her stroller while I rocked her, do push ups with her laying on her back giving her kisses. I tried to be as creative as possible and it did work! Going back to work was so hard for many reasons, especially trying to find time for myself. I now either get up super early to get a workout in or squeeze in a quick workout at the end of the workday before I pick up my daughter. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, I know it’s what I need to be my best self and the best mom to my baby girl.
- Ask for help! I would not be able to do any of this without my wonderful husband. He is my best friend and my partner in life. He supports my goals and I support his. Finding a person to support your goals is so important whether it be your partner, parent, sibling, friend or other relative; it helps to know someone is by your side.
Find a workout routine that you actually like doing and you are 100% more likely to actually stick with it. I personally do not enjoy cardio ( I don’t think most people do but I’m just throwing this out there), so I try to mix it into my workouts so it doesn’t feel as tedious. I truly enjoy yoga, lifting weights and stroller walks/jogs with my babe, and find myself looking forward to my workouts!
If you don’t have a gym membership or prefer to workout at home you can check out my free total body toning home workout here! This workout will tone you up and burn some major calories with minimal equipment required!
So these are my personal top 10 tips on how I got my body back after baby. I’m determined to be stronger than ever! Follow me on social media for my latest shenanigans, workouts, fitness tips and recipes!
Dr. Allie Flowers, PT, DPT, RYT
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