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Postpartum Fit: 6 Tips for Fitness After Childbirth

By Lauryn Lax

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May 6, 2015

The words ‘pregnantand ‘CrossFittend to raise many eyebrows in today’s society.

When the two words are Googled together, approximately 1,700,000 results come up.

From posts on how to keep fit throughout the laborious nine months to articles on women stating how other women are crazy for working out throughout their pregnancy, to Facebook and Instagram photos shared by women across the world rocking their fitness and keeping healthy throughout their personal birthing journeys, there is no doubt that CrossFitting during pregnancy is a topic of interest.

However, once the little one has arrived, then what?

Very few sources have addressed life and fitness post pregnancy.

The postpartum period is a sensitive subject, with a need for more information on navigating what your nutrition, fitness and lifestyle can—and should—look like in order to promote optimal health and wellbeing.

Approximately 15-20% of all new mothers suffer from Postpartum Depression, demonstrating symptoms such as: weepiness, difficulty concentrating, feeling sad, guilty or inadequate, insomnia, loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability and anxiety.

Like any transition, change can be hard, and pregnancy, in all its joy and wonder, can be a difficult challenge to navigate.

That being said, getting back to the ‘old way of life’ (i.e. the same old fitness routine) is a great way to cope with the stress postpartum can bring, right?

Partially.

The postpartum period (particularly the first six weeks) is crucial to ensuring you and your baby move into your new life together happily and healthfully.

While those long nine months of body transformation are over and your child has finally arrived, the journey to getting back to pre-baby shape does not happen overnight.

Kat Grosshaupt is a CrossFit coach, mom of two, and co-founder of BirthFit, a revolutionary movement to change the way women view and transition through their pregnancies, labors, and parenthood.

“The first thing you must remember is to be patient with yourself and give your body time to heal, recover and adjust to the changes it just went through over the past nine months,” Grosshaupt says.

All too often, women experience an inner pressure to get back to their pre-baby shape and weight within the first several weeks after giving birth.

“It took you nine months to gain the baby weight. It’s ok to give yourself nine months to get it all off. It is unrealistic to expect to walk out of the hospital in your skinny jeans,” Grosshaupt adds.

The following are a few pointers from Grosshaupt for post-partum fitness and holistic health:

Family Bonding Time. Your main job in the first six weeks or so is to simply bond with and get to know your baby. Your body is making milk, readjusting, and you (and your partner) are adjusting to the new addition to your family.

Slow and Steady. Easing back into things slowly is a tried and true way of making a healthy and happy comeback to your fit lifestyle. You need to wait until your care provider gives you the go-ahead to resume working out, but it’s usually about six weeks. Go too fast, too soon, and not only does your body delay its own internal healing process, but it can be a little overwhelming mentally and emotionally to realize your core is weaker than you remember, or that you ‘aren’t what you used to be’ before pregnancy. By giving yourself some slack and gradually increasing your fitness and intensity, you will be back on top of your game before you know it. That said, you don’t have to lie on a couch or do absolutely nothing during week one. Some guidelines I give my clients to follow during their six weeks of postpartum healing look something like this:

Weeks 1 & 2: Stroller walks at a leisurely pace. 15 minutes max. Get some Vitamin D!
Weeks 3 & 4: Lots of stretching, yoga, longer walks, pushups, planks, air squats.
Weeks 5 & 6: Jogging, walking, rowing, kettlebell swings, light weights.

Weaker Joints. You still have some relaxin (a hormone produced by the ovary and the placenta that relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix in preparation for childbirth) in your muscles and ligaments for up to 3-months in your body post-partum that can cause instability and loose joints. Be aware of this.

Coping with Mommy Guilt. As you ease back into a progressive fitness routine, think of your workout as that time that will make you a BETTER mom and partner. Many moms feel ‘mommy guilt’ when they leave a child to go workout. You certainly don’t have to leave the house, but during naptime or when your partner or a sitter is home to watch the baby, make sure you take the time to move your body. Exercise not only enhances your energy and endorphins, but gives you mental clarity and empowered psyche as well.

Postpartum Nutrition. Eat the same way you did while pregnant. Real, whole food sources (especially iron-rich leafy greens and grass-fed meats), and plenty of energy (caloric intake) for two! Pay particular attention to consuming good quality fats (avocados, nuts/seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut flakes, coconut butter, grass-fed butter/ghee, etc.). Additional sources that are go-to’s for their nutritious benefits include bone broth, probiotics and, of course, lots of water.

One Day at a Time. Rome was not built in a day. Think of your first few months back at the gym as your “4th Trimester”—your body is not the same as it was pre-baby, but you can get back there.

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