The process of getting back into exercise after having a baby looks a little different for everyone. There are a lot of factors like activity during pregnancy, abdominal separation, the strength of your pelvic floor, the type of labour you went through, and the type of recovery you had that go into the postpartum process. As hard as it is, try not to compare your journey to another mothers. IT IS SO HARD NOT TO, trust me, I have to stop myself from doing it allll the time, but the best thing you can do is focus on YOUR recovery and how YOU feel. The is no race or competition. If you push yourself too much too soon, or jump into exercises that aren't appropriate for YOUR body's current state - you can actually end up doing more harm then good.
As I mentioned on THIS post, I strongly recommend waiting to workout again until you have been cleared by your doctor at 6 weeks postpartum. Other than walking, I do recommend pelvic floor recovery exercises (I've posted some HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE) to help your body as it heals during those 6 weeks.
Once you have been received the all-clear from your medical practitioner, here are some tips to help you ease back into exercising again!
#1 EVALUATE ABDOMINAL SEPARATION
The very first thing I recommend doing is assessing your core. Pregnancy impacts your body in a lot of different ways, but obviously a main one is your core! Check for abdominal separation (if you're not sure how to do it, watch THIS video). If your abdominal muscles are separated more than 2 finger widths apart (or 2.7cm), it is considered diastasic recti. In that case, you want to avoid the same core exercises as you would during pregnancy (HERE is a post about exercises to avoid) until it is healed. Jumping back into "regular" core exercises will only make the separation worse. The postpartum recovery exercises I have posted, along with any pregnancy core workout I have posted, are all safe and effective for those with diastasis recti.
If you have a little separation, but it's not significant enough to be diastasis recti, then STILL continue to do good pelvic floor exercises to totally heal it! You can begin some regular core work also, but PAY ATTENTION to your core! If any exercise causes the middle of your stomach to bulge or "cone", then you should immediately stop that exercise until your separation has improved and your stomach no longer cones.
I had less than a finger width of separation during pregnancy, but it was fully healed after having Jack. I attribute this to working really hard to strengthen my pelvic floor and transverse abdominis during pregnancy and, of course, staying away from inappropriate exercises. That's why I believe it's also important TO safely work your core during pregnancy, instead of just avoiding it all together from fear of separation. Even though my core is not separated, I am still paying close attention to it, and will stop if anything is painful or doesn't feel right.
#2 EVALUATE PELVIC FLOOR
Again, it's SO important to strengthen the ole' pelvic floor DURING pregnancy. Even though a strong pelvic floor helps with labour, it also weakens from labour. I felt like I had a strong pelvic floor going into delivery, but afterwards it felt SO weak. The postpartum recovery exercises I posted helped me big time - thank goodness! One way you can actually test the strength of your pelvic floor is trying to stop your pee when you're in the middle of going to the bathroom. Haha. It sounds weird, but it'll give you a good idea of its condition.
When you begin exercising again, you want to avoid "jumping" exercises (like squat jumps, burpees, etc.) if you experience ANY leaking. This is a sign that your pelvic floor needs some strengthening first!
#3 FOCUS ON FORM
The hormone, relaxin, is still present in your body up until 6 months postpartum. This hormone loosens your joints and ligaments, which helps your body accommodate the baby, and eventually deliver it. However, because your joints are looser, it puts you at higher risk for injury. Good form helps you stay in control of your body, and reduces your chances of overdoing it. The quality of a movement is ALWAYS better than quantity.
#4 BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
This has been my theme for pregnancy, and now postpartum. Our bodies just did AN AMAZING thing! Think about it...it's amazing!! There is no rush. There is a season for everything, and right now, the season is to enjoy your newborn, get in some exercise because it makes you FEEL good, and not get caught up in comparison. Doing the best you can is all that matters, and even if you just manage 15 minutes - that's 15 minutes of showing your body some love and appreciation, which is awesome!!