Strong Babies, Strong Mothers: Pro Tips for Postpartum Fitness
Today's blog post is all about exercising in the postpartum. You know you can do that, right?! We get so many questions about this topic and specifically about breastfeeding and exercise. To expound on the subject, I thought I'd ask Tamara Rouseff of Mother Earth Strength a Birthfit coach local to Tampa Bay. You can read more about her here; she's pretty amazing. Happy Reading!
Every person, mothers included, should have something that is their stress reliever and makes them happy. For me, that important self-care activity is exercise. I used to be very heavy, but have gotten healthy through proper nutrition and exercise and this love for moving my body has grown into more than a hobby. Over the years, I decided to expand my knowledge and become a coach, helping others see their potential physically and help them meet their goals.
When I got pregnant, I continued to learn how to move. With each trimester, new modifications were used, but I got comfortable with moving my pregnant body. It was fun to keep exercising throughout my pregnancy! Every day was different and sometimes only yoga felt right but other days I could continue to weight lift as I had done pre-pregnancy. I had worked with prenatal moms in the past so I confidently worked out throughout my pregnancy.
Once I had my daughter, things definitely changed. I spent the initial postpartum period soaking up the time bonding with my daughter, but yearned to get back into working out. I jumped back in too soon, but luckily didn’t injure myself. This lack of knowing when to come back prompted me to learn more. As a coach, and a lifelong learner, I wanted to learn more about training the postpartum body in general. I sought out training and obtained certifications from two different programs, Birthfit and Fit for Birth, both of which are great resources. This training has helped me know how to train myself and other prenatal and postpartum moms. I wish I had this knowledge for my first pregnancy!
My favorite approach to training is the Birthfit program. This movement stands on four pillars of importance to moms in the motherhood transition: Fitness, Nutrition, Chiropractic and Mindset. Birthfit believes that all four pillars need to be functioning optimally for the mom to be in balance and I firmly believe that as well. Fitness means moving with intention through the preconception, prenatal and postpartum periods. And guess what, postpartum lasts forever after giving birth!
Breastfeeding has easily worked into my workout routine. I generally like to work out in the morning. Realistically, this doesn’t always happen. If my daughter has been up the night before, I may feel sleep is more important than getting up an hour early to workout. Sleep really is THAT important! Easier said than done as parents, I know. However, sleep repairs muscles and tissues used in working out and without adequate repair time your body can not recover from your workout. So if sleep is decent, I’d get up before her morning feed and workout and be showered and ready for the morning feed before work. (Now as a toddler, our breastfeeding is minimal so working out around feedings is no longer an issue.)
Earlier in our breastfeeding relationship, I had to work around feedings more. As a working mother, working out happens before or after work so if I worked out after I would make sure to feed her around that schedule. For my daughter though, she always ended up hungry right after I worked out. Even sweaty and gross, she wanted to nurse. I always joked she like a salty boob, haha! Each child will have their own preference and if you nurse on demand, their own schedule. Flexibility is key. It is helpful to have workouts you can do at home or workout classes you can bring the baby to. Birthfit and other postpartum moms’ classes allow nurslings to attend and be cared for as needed. These are the best types of classes to go to as a new mom because you will be welcomed to take your time and feed your baby as needed. Many movements I teach can be done with baby in a carrier while nursing!
Another thing to think about when working out and breastfeeding. Very tight bras can restrict milk flow. I have found the best type of bra for high impact movements are those with underwire but that aren’t too tight. However, every mom is different. Sometime underwire can irritate as well. In the initial postpartum period of working out 6-12 weeks, or longer depending on the mom, looser bras are perfectly fine for working out as the movements should not be high impact during this time. Most movements during this time are working on reconnecting with our core and establishing proper breathing techniques.
Movement is important for recovery for the postpartum mom. However, this period should also be honored and “getting back into it” should not be rushed. Consulting with a prenatal and postpartum trainer is always recommended. Birthfit is an amazing movement with trainers throughout our area. I personally coach with Mother Earth Strength offering classes in North and south Pinellas County.