If you’re a new mom (or pregnant with your newest addition), you’ve probably started thinking about how to get that pre-baby body back. The internet is full of tips and tricks for “getting that six-pack back after baby!” or “wear a bikini three weeks postpartum!” But here’s the truth: you might not ever get back to your pre-baby form. And guess what? That’s perfectly okay.
So if you’re stressing yourself out about squeezing into those skinny jeans a week after giving birth, take a breath, relax, and remember that your badass self just made a human being. And then, if you really want to, you can start planning to get back to the gym – safely and in good time.
Spoiler Alert: Your Body Might Not Be the Same
In fact, your body likely won’t ever be the same. During pregnancy, you’ll lose abdominal and pelvic strength. You might see stretch marks. And your abdominal muscles will stretch and potentially separate as your baby grows. Your joints and ligaments loosen, and your feet might even grow (it’s a real thing).
Some of those changes are only temporary, but others are lasting. You might not ever get rid of that extra skin on your stomach. Your stretch marks will probably be permanent reminders of that time your body created life. And your hips, breasts, and thighs might never return to their pre-baby shape.
Too often, we compare our bodies to what we see in magazines and on TV. But we need to remind ourselves that what we see on TV isn’t the norm. Celebrities have personal trainers, professional chefs, and plenty of help to ensure they get a good night’s sleep. And magazines photoshop those photos like you wouldn’t believe, so cut yourself some slack!
The bottom line: your body will change. And that’s perfectly okay. Your baby is worth every one of those stretch marks. So embrace this new phase of your life!
Take it Slow
As athletes, many of us are ready to hit the gym and start lifting weights the second we leave the hospital. But doing too much too soon won’t just wear you out – it can actually be harmful to your health.
Every woman’s road back to pre-baby activity varies. Those who have an uncomplicated vaginal birth might be able to return to light aerobic activity within just a few weeks. Women who experienced complications and/or undergo C-sections need to wait longer to give their bodies time to heal. Therefore, listen to your doctors and follow their postpartum instructions closely. As a general rule, you should not return to an exercise program until at least six weeks after giving birth.
Once your doctor clears you for activity, take it slow. Your core muscles are weak, and throwing yourself back into your pre-pregnancy workout routine could lead to serious injuries. The main goal should be self-care and boosting your mood and energy, not losing weight and building a six-pack.
How Long Should It Take to Bounce Back After Baby?
Every person is different. Some women will be ready to start building back muscle and training for that 5K just weeks after giving birth. Others will have to take a much more gradual approach. The important thing is to listen to your doctors – and then listen to your body.
You can start with simple exercises to strengthen your core, legs, and arms. Add in some moderate aerobic activity, like walking, dancing, or riding bike. Eventually, you can increase your workouts as your endurance and strength return.
It can take months – or even years – to get your groove back. Right now, your main goal is taking care of that new bundle of joy. Prioritize rest over reps and healthy eating over hours-long gym sessions. Your strength will come back in time. Be patient.
You Are Perfect…Just As You Are!
It might feel frustrating to look in the mirror and see your post-baby body. But every time you want to criticize that belly, remember that it grew and protected your most precious possession. Your body did incredible things, so be kind to yourself.
No matter whether you ever get back to your pre-baby weight or get those killer abs back, know this: you’re perfect just as you are.