Getting In Shape After Pregnancy

| 31 Comments

3 months postpartum

postpartum fitness

7 months postpartum

Exercising the whole way through pregnancy, makes rebound so much easier!

Exercising While Pregnant

I got pregnant with my second child in November of last year so during the first 6 months I kept busy indoors for the most part. I lifted weights, did yoga a few times a week, and continued snowboarding until February.

Once the weather started warming up I moved my workouts outside. I ran a little and walked a lot. I also swam several times a week.

I didn’t always do the same thing but I did always do something.

By the last month I was pretty slow and more concerned with having the baby than in staying in shape. But I didn’t quit. I continued to walk and swim.

The First 6 Weeks Postpartum

Things changed after the baby was born. I was recovering, I wasn’t sleeping, and I was busy with baby, 1st grade, and laundry. It was actually in the six weeks after Maya was born that I started to get out of shape!

As every woman does, I did a whole lot of lying around in the first weeks. But secretly, under my clothes I was exercising. I started Kegels within just a couple of days. I also did deep breathing, abdominal tensions, andleg squeezes. It’s hard to believe that something so simple could be so tough. It was a challenge just to find the right muscles and make them do what I wanted!

Within the first week I was walking. First just a block, then three, very slowly. I walked exclusively for many weeks. Well, that and the Kegels and tensions. (Pulling the navel back towards the spine is a great way to start controlling the abdominals.)

I had absolutely no sign of diastasis recti – the split of the two halves of the abdominals (there’s a chapter all about this in my book) – so by 3 or 4 weeks I began holding plank position and doing crunches.

6 Weeks Postpartum and Beyond

Finally, at 6 weeks postpartum, I bought a jogging stroller and went running. It hurt. There was still pressure down below so I waited a few days and tried again. This time the pressure was gone so I packed up the baby, got Evelyn on her bike and headed out for a little jog. Jogging with a kid who had leaps and bounds more energy than I had and was riding a bike maybe wasn’t the best idea. We went almost 3 miles through rolling hills. I won’t lie. It was hard and I clearly overdid it but it was fantastic at the same time. I felt real again. I knew the old me would be back.

I rested for a couple of days and then went out running again. I jogged for two weeks and then enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do school. I was 2 months postpartum and was doing 4-5 hours of Tae Kwon Do per week plus adding a little trail running here and there. And it feels great!

I’m still not where I’d like to be 3 months and 7 days later but I am making great progress. I can’t do a hundred sit ups in a row yet but I can do 60. I can’t do 50 push ups all the way to the floor but I can do 50 shallow ones. I couldn’t run a marathon tomorrow but I can run a few miles through the hills comfortably. I am getting stronger every day and having a great time doing it.

The important thing about exercising after pregnancy is realizing that you aren’t as good as your peers, you aren’t as good as you used to be, but that you will be if you just keep going.

Any woman who wants her old body back can have it. She just has to start small and be patient.

Author: Peggy the Primal Parent

The blog owner!

31 Comments

  1. Congrats on your hard work. I wish I hadn’t let myself get out of shape in the first place, but I did. Any tips for those of us who do have diastasis recti? I can easily place whole fist btwn my two abdominals at 14mo postpartum.

    • I do Meghan, a whole chapter of them! In the meantime focus on these:

      • Keep weight down
      • Avoid forward forceful movements
      • Maintain or rebuild abdominal muscle tone
      • Eat ample protein, minerals, and vitamins to support tissue repair

      Doing Kegels and bringing the navel back towards the spine is a great place to start.

  2. You look awesome!! And btw I love the shoes your baby girl is wearing- too cute!

  3. When is the book coming? I’m chomping at he bit!

      • Waaaah :( I’m prego now and want your wisdom in a nice, neat easy to carry around package right noowwww!

        Anyway you look great! I’ve been trying to workout but two weeks of extreme fatigue really did me in. Feeling better now at week 11 so it’s time to get back in gear! I’m heading over to your Exercise During Pregnancy article right now.

        • There is nothing wrong with resting and taking it easy when you need it. In the early weeks of pregnancy I too was super fatigued and just wanted to lie down. Even if it goes on for a few weeks, it won’t ruin you. Rest when you need to and exercise whenever you can. But if you find yourself stuck in unrelenting fatigue, then you should start questioning your food choices.

  4. This is so encouraging to me! The thought of just doing something is just what I needed to hear. Sometimes I tend to think if I can’t do things just so, I may as well just skip it.

  5. You’re so right Peggy. Start small and be patient. I am about 8 weeks postpartum and I am doing yoga (vigorous style) 3 times a week. It’s no where near how much physical activity I was doing pre-pregnancy but it feels good to move.

    • It’s that kind of positive attitude that will keep you healthy and get you in shape! It’s so easy for a woman to feel down on herself postpartum. We’re just not the same after delivery. We don’t look as good, we don’t have the energy or the stamina we wish we had. But focusing on that is just a roadblock. Getting moving, no matter how small at first, feels good and, in time, transforms our postpartum bodies.

  6. Please be careful not to burn out your adrenal glands. The Chinese believe that the first few months post-partum are critical for the health of the mother and it is important to rest and not over-tire yourself. Carrying a baby for 9 months is a stress on the body; taking care of a newborn and young sibling is taxing. This may not be the best time to be working out exercising.

    • That is a really important point! Woman can generally feel when she has done too much. In the first 6 weeks, we will bleed when we over do it. (After that way too long run with Evelyn I bled the next day). After that there are other signs – feeling overly tired, depressed, experiencing unusual aches and pains.

      Many times over the last 6 weeks I have had to pull back because I exerted myself too much. As long as you listen to the cues your body gives, you will be fine.

      Remember too that women who kept up an exercise routine before and during pregnancy will not tire out as easily as women who didn’t.

    • CCM,

      I’m not sure if you were speaking to me directly or to women in general but for me, getting in shape and looking good are not my aim, they are a consequence of having fun. Exercising is enjoyable to me – at least the kind I do is. (Sitting around inside my house would burn out my adrenals!) What is stress for one is pleasure for another.

      I went down the overexercising road years ago when I ran a half marathon every other weekend. I don’t push myself like that anymore. I have fun with exercise now.

  7. Way to go, Peggy. Love this. Super valuable info for so many women. Much better for them to actually SEE what works, rather than reading theory about it.

    I’d love to know how, if at all, your eating changed during and post-pregnancy. You may have written about this already. Sorry if I missed it.

    Your daughters are BEAUTIFUL!

    Susan

  8. Peggy, I always love your posts, they’re always so real, and informative. They are so helpful. When I got pregnant at sixteen, I’d work out at the school gym. One day, one of the girls said I was funny and that every other pregnant woman they knew used it as an excuse to sit around, eating whatever they wanted and having everyone cater to them. My reply was “there is no way in hell I’m getting fat, I’m only sixteen.” :D I stayed within the “limits” of a pregnant women, and did mostly cardio, but I didn’t get fat! You look so good, and I know you’ll reach your goals in no time, and then you’ll set knew ones. That’s how life works. You reach your goals, and it feels so good….. for a day or two. Then you’re off and running again.

  9. Good on you for keeping yourself in shape! I was thin, but not fit, when I got pregnant, and then I really let myself go! Gained 65 lbs during pregnancy. With a 2-year-old little boy, I still have another 15 lbs to lose to get back to my pre-baby weight, but I think I am a little healthier and more fit than I was pre-baby. I have been using the weight lifting DVDs and HIIT DVD from the Supreme 90 Day program and have started trail running. I was actually surprised to read that you run a little… I thought I read on here before that you don’t believe in running? Or is it just long-distance running? I personally think that running is healthy when kept moderate. I don’t think I’d do more than a 10k, but not even sure if I would want to run that much anyway! lol I like a good 2 miles and I’m trying to work up to a 5 k.

    • It’s great that you’re turning it all around. Better late than never!

      I used to run a lot – 40 miles a week for a while, years ago. I don’t believe in that anymore at all. Lots of runners over-exercise and it’s definitely not healthy. Running really hasn’t been my thing for many years but I live in the foothills now and it’s been growing on me again. :) Trail running, which is just about the only running I do anymore, is great for both endurance and strengthening the legs, and getting out into nature.

  10. what would you have done if your milk hadn’t come in for one of your pregnancies? Or not enough of it that is….would you have made the Westonprice formula? I am having this situation now. it is rough since I believe in a good paleo diet so much. my daughter is 8 weeks and cant take dairy. she’s currently on nasty soy formula which I hate. I don’t trust milk donors so what’s the answer? Thank you.

    • Ashley, I feel for you. I have thought about this a lot and believe that I would make some kind of WAPF-like formula at home, yes. It may feel experimental in a way to give your child something that you’ve never known any other baby to drink. But giving kids dead, processed, powder is a huge experiment on our nation’s children, one that doesn’t make any evolutionary sense. Homemade formulas probably aren’t ideal either but at least they are fresh and minimally processed. I would start with the liver formula, minus the whey if the baby were sensitive. http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/recipes-for-homemade-baby-formula#lbf

      If we lived in tribes, another woman could easily make up for your lack. It is sad how isolated we are even with neighbors all around us…

    • Ashley, to maybe help you feel better about it, this problem is what led me to, initially WAPF, and eventually to primal/paleo. It’s something that some members of my family struggle with, including me. We’ll see how it goes now that I’m completely paleo, but it still concerns me. Anyways, I initially fed my youngest son the cow’s milk recipe in the Nourishing Traditions book when my milk first dried up at 5.5 months – as I expected it probably would. He can’t have milk now, but he thrived on it. This time around, I would probably opt for the bone broth formula, since I don’t our descendants lived heavily off of it – all of my aunts, uncles, sisters, and children are lactose intolerant. Red flag I guess, but I was such a believer in WAPF back then, that I ignored the simple fact that, although my intolerance was more bearable, it was still clearly there. I know how you feel about the formula too, I gave that to my son for a short time, and still regret it. Also, my twin was fed soy formula from birth as she could not latch on properly, and I was fed soy formula from six months onward. I see it as no coincidence that we have many of the same health problems, and that hers are always more pronounced than mine…. Good luck.

  11. Peggy, how long did it take you to lose your pregnancy weight (and, if you do not mind me asking, how much did you have to lose after the birth)? Did it just fall off, did breastfeeding help you or did you need to watch calories?
    Thank you!

    • Dinah,

      I lost my weight immediately. I gained a lot more than I did with Evelyn but I was quite thin when I got pregnant this time so it is to be expected. I was something like 138 when Maya was born and was down to 118 within two weeks. I didn’t do anything. I believe I peed it all out! hehehe. I ate a whole lot and never tried to lose weight.

      Since then my weight has stayed the same. I haven’t lost, I haven’t gained. But I am sure I have switched out some fat for muscle. ;)

      It is very very important to eat – both to produce adequate amounts of breast milk and to properly heal. I still eat a whole lot and refuse to diet. My baby and my postpartum body need the calories and nutrients.

  12. Peggy, a healthy weightgain with minimal fat gain seems t be exactly what leads to th best pregnancy outcomes. I have recently read that it is the mother´s gain of LEAN mass (placenta and blood volume) that determines the baby´s birthweight (in the healthy range) while excessive fat gain only makes your baby fat and thus, predisposed to overweight later in life. So the goal is to makes a lot of blood and a large placenta in order to ensure adequate growth. Maybe that is achieved by the quality of nutrition as opposed to just consuming more calories? Just at hought…

    • That’s a really good point, although I don’t know that we have much, if any, information about the weight and health of a mother’s placenta in relation to her nutrition. We do know, however, that a large placenta is a good thing and it is obvious to some midwives when a placenta is not healthy. Nutrition is probably the key here as it is with most things relating to health.

  13. what about a woman who was out of shape had a baby then not quite 6monthes after still overweight gets pregnant can she still loose 20 excess pounds and get in shape? and with ketogenic diet and supplements?

    where is the best deal to get a paper book? while kindle books are convenient and cheaper…hard on eyes/general health starting at screens all the time.

    THANK YOU!

  14. What about woman who have 6month olds 20pounds overweight and find themselves prego…? If you start exercise right away would you lose the 20pounds? Woman who were out of shape first pregnancy and their muscle on stomach that won’t be the same (unless surgery not the recti split thing) will it get worse second baby?

    Does your book discoid overweight woman who find themselves prego soon after baby?