Helping new moms return to fitness and health

  • 3 Minutes Read
Jennifer Yanez, RDN, CHC, ACE-PT

Calling all new moms! Do you wonder if it is even possible to work fitness routines back into your life with a little one and little sleep in the mix? Read on for some practical tips and tricks to get back in the swing of things…

Helping new moms

When to start a postpartum exercise program

Many women can safely return to some gentle exercise, such as light walks, within a few days after delivery or when they feel ready. However, returning to exercise depends on whether your pregnancy and delivery were uncomplicated or if you required extra surgical interventions, such as a Cesarean section or vaginal repairs. It’s always best to get clearance to exercise and approval for the activities you enjoy from your obstetrics provider.

Early considerations and care

Getting back to a consistent exercise routine can be a challenging task when you have a new baby in the home. It’s essential to listen to your body and allow yourself to rest and recover, first and foremost. It will take time and patience, and often, some reliance on others for support. Each mom and infant is unique. Your baby's needs will dictate how hard or easy it is to move toward your personal health goals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 32% of all babies in the U.S. are delivered by Cesarean or C-section. This form of delivery is considered a major surgery, and therefore, these moms are typically not allowed to lift anything heavier than their own baby for the first three to four months of recovery. Another consideration is that postpartum women may experience residual pelvic floor and core-muscle dysfunction following delivery. These vital pelvic floor muscles support a woman’s bladder, bowel, and uterus. They are essential to urination, bowel movements, and sexual function. To learn more about pelvic floor dysfunction, click here.

Here are some at-home exercises that focus on strengthening the pelvic floor and core muscles after delivering a baby. Some women may need the help of a specialist, such as a physical therapist or urogynecologist. Discuss any unexpected symptoms, difficulties, or pain in your back, abdomen, and pelvic region with your provider.

How will I fit in exercise?

When returning to regular exercise, try to think “some exercise is better than no exercise.” Staying focused on the positives and any bit of progress is progress anytime. As babies develop, their needs and schedules change almost constantly. Flexibility and grace are the name of the game!

Gather some support

No one expects you to do it all, nor should you, as a new mom. Thinking otherwise about yourself can set you up for unhealthy emotional, mental, and physical distress. Lean on others. Accept their helpful offers. Look to the following possible support systems:

If you find other new moms, think about doing a daycare swap so that you both get some time for exercise!

Ways to work in exercise from home

All these ideas count toward progress in regaining your fitness routine.

When is it safe to work on weight loss?

It is not recommended for breastfeeding moms to start a weight-loss plan or reduce calories until their milk supply is well-established, which is around two months. Many moms who breastfeed begin to have postpartum weight loss soon after delivery as breast milk production burns about 300-500 calories daily on average.

If you are not breastfeeding, it is generally considered safe to start your weight-loss journey after your six-week follow-up with your medical provider.

How many calories are right for postpartum weight loss?

The healthiest daily calorie goal for a postpartum woman's weight loss depends on whether you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding women must be cautious about not reducing their calories too low. Due to the high-calorie demand for milk production, consuming less than 1,800 calories per day while nursing is not advised. It’s best to let your appetite guide your eating and focus on high-quality nutrition from whole, unprocessed foods and water as your primary drink.

For a non-breastfeeding woman, healthy nutrition, regular exercise, and calorie tracking with the MyNetDiary app can be a winning combination for weight-loss success. Although it is considered safe for a postpartum woman to lose one to two pounds per week, it may not happen that quickly, which is okay! With all you have going on, the return to prepregnancy weight may take 6-12 months or more.

How much fluid is best postpartum?

Ideally, you want to aim for 128 fluid ounces or around 16 cups of water daily to meet your typical hydration needs and to cover what breastmilk production requires. According to the American Council on Exercise, you must add about 7-10 ounces of fluid for every 10-20 minutes during exercise. Plan your exercise session after recently nursing or expressing your breast milk to minimize engorgement or leakage during your workout. Wear a bra that fits well and gives plenty of support to protect your breasts.

Remember the power of fiber

Fiber can help manage your waistline and does your gut good, regardless of whether you are calorie-tracking. Aim for at least 25 grams of dietary fiber every day. Use the MyNetDiary app to track your daily fiber intake from whole grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, and fresh fruits. Focus on whole foods for fiber as often as possible (instead of fiber supplements) for benefits beyond weight loss.

As a new mom, you can start a return to fitness. Your expectations may be challenged along the way, but with some creativity and understanding about this new stage of life for you and your family, you can get there. Be kind to yourself, and enjoy the new little human by your side.

MyNetDiary how-to videos can help you become a tracking pro in no time!

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Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Weight Loss->Other Resources Other Health Issues->Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Jun 24, 2024
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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