One thing I have been missing so much during the last million months (ok, 14 months) of Covid restrictions is the baby holding. It was pretty standard for me to have a baby in each arm with a foot used to rock a car seat during classes pre-Covid helping moms navigate exercise after babies..
And yes, I miss the baby snuggles, my youngest is now 5. But more so, I miss spending that previous time with new moms. The early years of parenting will always hold a soft spot in my heart because it was an amazingly joyful time for me. It also completely changed me and who I am as a person. And damn, it was hard a lot of the time.
The thing about “bouncing back” after a baby is that it misses the whole point. The experience of becoming a parent is transformative in all the ways: emotionally, mentally, physically, likely even spiritually.
Going back is not an option.
And yet I work with many women who feel better in their bodies now than ever before by participating in proper exercise after babies. Going forward and leaning into the changes that come with pregnancy, birth and postpartum can be incredibly empowering. If you are a new or soon to be mom or parent, here are three things to help you through this challenging, and yet amazing, season.
Pregnancy and birthing babies, whether vaginally, c-section, medications, complications or not is always a big deal. Both pregnancy and birth require a lot from us in so many ways and there is no way to skip over the recovery that is required afterwards. (PS if you did skip it, you can still go back now and rebuild/repair. It is never too late to get a stronger core). Here is an example of a circuit you could use to help your body recover from pregnancy and birth. You could complete 10-20 reps of each for 1-3 rounds.
Progressive overload is one of the most well researched principles in exercise science, but it also just makes sense. You will want your body to build strength over time because your baby just gets heavier and heavier. 5 year olds still have tantrums and need to be carried home sometimes. Download this workout for an example of the type of strength workout you can do to build your strength before getting back into a HIIT workout or going for a run.
You very likely don’t have the time, energy and rest required to benefit from an hour long workout every day, a HIIT bootcamp, or long runs in the way you may have for exercise after babies. And pushing through and pretending you do can actually do more harm than good. Instead, you need a plan that is effective (creating the change you want) but also efficient (doesn’t take an hour of your day, everyday). And you need recovery.
As much as it feels like you will never again have time for a long run or energy to work out consistently, you will. Set yourself up for success by taking your time to build the foundation now and you will be grateful months and years down the road. Slowing down to get it right now will actually speed up your recovery in the long run.
Kaye Burrows specializes in fitness for Moms. She believes growing, birthing and raising humans is important and intense work and that we need to respect and honour our bodies throughout those phases. She is a mom of three and can be found planning workouts, eating peanut butter or outside. www.corelove.ca.