The first rule of post-natal fitness is to always listen to your body. Your body just went through a marathon of gigantic proportions preparing for and giving birth to your baby. It doesn’t matter whether your delivery was vaginal or by c-section, you will need to give your body time to recover from the birth process before starting any fitness plan.
Wait a week or two before starting your post-natal fitness plan. It is a smart thing to also check with your doctor, especially if you have a c-section so that you time your fitness start date for when your body will be ready. It may take all of two weeks before you feel your energy level return to normal. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your body to heal.
Two Weeks Post-Natal
OK, you feel you are ready and your doctor gives you the green light so now what? Start out your fitness plan by walking. If the weather permits, walk outside. If the weather is nice enough for a newborn to be outside take your baby along in a stroller/buggy.
The important thing to keep in mind when you first start your fitness plan is to pace yourself. Do not jump in with both feet. Pay attention to what your body is saying to you.
If you are using a treadmill, here are some starting guidelines:
Do not set your speed any higher than 2.5 and do NOT do any inclines. Set your timer for 15 minutes, and no more! Do this for several days and if you feel good about it, increase the time to 20 minutes.
Pick up the pace after a week or two and add some deep stretching to your routine.
Do not lift any weights yet or do any weight bearing exercises until you are at least six weeks post-natal and until all bleeding has stopped.
If at anytime you feel light-headed, ill or you feel pain in your legs or in your side, stop and rest. When your breathing is under control and the pain, light-headedness has subsided and you feel well again you can proceed cautiously.
Take it slow and steady for your first few weeks of fitness. It can’t be stressed enough that you need to listen to your body. If you are feeling any pain, or feelings of being unwell at all, you need to stop and rest. Taking it slow and steady will reduce any chance of injury. An injury will set you back in your fitness program, so play it smart.
Remember that your body is still making adjustments especially if you are breastfeeding. You are making adjustments to parenthood and your hormones are trying to return to a normal cycle.