“I want to get back to the gym. How do I know if I’m ready?”. I get questions about postpartum exercise a lot from our members in the 4th trimester and it’s a very valid question. Giving this next step some thought is super helpful as you transition back into your old regime.
Physical Body + Postpartum Exercise
First off, let’s chat about your physical body, then we can delve into the emotional and mental bodies.
The best person to assess you physically would be a practitioner, such as a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, or someone who can do a thorough exam to access function, strength, and connection between your pelvic floor and core (or transverse abdominis). If all is working as it should, then you’re clear to start training whichever way you wish. That said, not everyone has access to see a PF Physio so if you’re feeling ready and want to head back into the gym, take it slow and listen to your body. Maybe start with low impact walking on the treadmill. Read more about choosing the right exercise in this article by Vagina Coach, Kim Vopni, “The Right Way to Exercise After Pregnancy: Say No to Mommy Bootcamp“.
Also, watch for red flags that would indicate you need to take a step back, such as, pain, dizziness, bleeding, incontinence, heaviness in your pelvic region (or your “bits”). Listen closely as your body will give you many cues. Remember, getting back into your old routine isn’t about the time that’s passed after birth, rather, if your body is ready for it. And the right practitioner to assess that is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.
Emotional + Mental Bodies
Your physical body is not the only matter of consideration though. There are other things to examine, such as your emotional and mental bodies. Before you make the transition back into the gym, ensure it’s with a positive mindset about your intentions and expectations.
1. Acknowledge the gradual pace of your return:
Set the expectation prior to going that you’ll take things slow as you transition back. Take gradual steps and be compassionate with yourself, especially if you find that you aren’t able to keep up with your previous pace or lift as much, etc. So, before you start your postpartum exercise, tell yourself what edge you’ll try to meet today. Then, if you don’t get there, know that’s A-OK!
2. Mindset pointed at positivity:
Ask yourself why you want to go to the gym. Is it to build strength back? Change the way you look? Get out of the house for an hour? There’s no wrong answer here. Set an intention with a positive mindset about getting back into your previous regime knowing that your body is a magnificent shell that just underwent many months of growing, then birthed a baby! Your body may never look the same. And that’s ok! Every change is a badge of honour for motherhood! So ensure your return to the gym is fuelled with a positive mindset.
3. Notice what comes up:
Lastly, watch your thoughts and see where they lead while transitioning back. Are they haunting thoughts that bring you down or are they uplifting emotions that make you feel rejuvenated and energized? Defeating thoughts can be a hard habit to break. Notice if reoccurring or unhelpful chatter comes up and try to change your narrative into something light and positive. So, instead of, “Gah, I’ll never look like I did before pregnancy!”, try, “My body is awe-inspiring and I Iove each ounce of my new self!”.
To conclude, if your body is ready for postpartum exercise, then go at ‘er! Just like birth though, sometimes it’s the mind that can get in the way of progress. Stay flexible, not in your limbs, but in your mind. Set goals and be ok with not achieving them at the start. Be compassionate with your beautiful self and make sure you feel rejuvenated after your workout, not defeated.
Lots of love,