5 Myths About Postpartum Workout
The world of postpartum workouts can be a scary one, and the fact that it is riddled with enough myths to rival a Greek masterpiece only makes things more daunting. After having a baby, working out likely isn't the first (or even the fifth) thing on your mind.
However, for moms who do feel inclined to exercise, it's important to know when it is safe to start, what you can do, how much to push your body and when to take your training to the next level. The guidelines around all these subjects are often contradictory and can seem quite vague initially.
Instagram will have you believe that you can get into a gym as early as a few days after having a baby, while traditional wisdom often indicates that you shouldn't even think about doing anything for the first 6-8 weeks (or until your doctor clears you) after giving birth.
It is important to remember that the mode, manner and complications surrounding your delivery all play an important role in determining when it is safe for you to start exercising again. While you may not have a chance to assess how well you are healing until you meet your gynecologists'/ obstetrician, always listen to your body and only do as much as is comfortable.
Every pregnancy is different, but as a general rule, it is a good idea to avoid straining your muscles while you are still bleeding. While certain exercises help in the strengthening and healing process, don't expect to dive straight into lifting weights and running from day 1. Find a good workout program tailored to the postnatal phase you're at.
Here are 5 myths about postpartum workouts that you really should not be swayed by:
Myth 1 -
Working out will be impossible because you will be too exhausted:
Being a new mom is certainly challenging. Trying to juggle the baby's sleep and feeding cycles, trying to decode what they need, all while battling mood swings on virtually no sleep can leave you feeling drained in no time!
The important thing to remember here is that a 'workout' doesn't mean going to a gym or sweating for an hour or two. Even something as simple as a walk around the house can help. It doesn't matter whether you do 2 minutes or 20.
If you're already well past the early postpartum phase of motherhood, beginner workout videos on YouTube that feature exercises to correct your posture, pelvic muscles, and pelvic floor are a great place to start.
As you progress, you can even wear your baby (as a little added weight training) when you go for a walk which will be refreshing for both you and the baby. Reiterating here, you should listen to your body and not push yourself unnecessarily.
Myth 2 -
Working out will lower your milk supply:
Contrary to popular perception, working out will not impact your milk supply negatively at all. That said, intense workouts can be exhausting. What could happen is that excessive sweating may dehydrate you, so always remember to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water is particularly important for breastfeeding mothers since breast milk is 80-90% water.
Myth 3 -
Ab exercises is a big no-no
Start doing gentle pelvic exercises, and abdominal exercises after a week or two. If it hurts, then stop doing it. Some exercises like the pelvic tilt, improves deep abdominal, pelvic bulge strengthens the transverse, buttocks and lower back. Consult your fitness expert before you start working out or add any new exercises to your regime.
Myth 4 -
No matter what you do, you'll never be able to regain your pre-baby strength:
Your body has changed. Your hormones have recently undergone massive upheaval and are still stabilizing. With all of this, regaining the same strength is definitely harder. For one thing, your skin, tissues and muscles have gone through 9 months of stretching, shredding and shifting around to make room for your little bundle of joy.
During this period, your belly expanded, abdomen muscles got longer, the back muscles got shorter, even your diaphragm compressed to make a place for the baby in your womb. These are all major changes and require consistent effort to transform and recover.
Your body will not snap back into its pre-pregnancy form overnight, so give it time. You can totally achieve your pre-pregnancy levels of strength (and may even exceed them), but that doesn't mean it'll be easy.
Recognize what your body has done and celebrate small wins in the meantime. A few postpartum exercises like pelvic raises to correct posture along with leg extensions, advanced leg raises, and heel taps will help you start on the right path.
Myth 5 -
Breastfeeding burns lots of calories so that you can skip working out:
Yes, breastfeeding burns around 300-500 kcal (depending on your metabolism), which certainly helps create a calorie deficit that contributes to weight loss. However, weight loss alone is not the only role of a workout.
Building strength and training your muscles again is equally important, and that can only happen by exercising. The postpartum workout helps you regain lost muscle strength and tone the body and is an important step in your postnatal journey.
Postpartum recovery is different for everyone; common across the board is the importance of making that "me-time". Your workout is a great opportunity to reconnect with yourself.
Plus, there are the obvious benefits - exercising regularly will help strengthen your core, reduce stress, prevent lower-back injuries and boost your mood. Do check with your doctor before you start working out, and don't let the myths like these get you down.