After having a baby, many women want to get back in shape. But what does it even mean to be in shape after giving birth? And, at a time when a five-minute shower becomes a luxury, squeezing in a work out doesn’t happen often. Dr. Angela Pohl, internist at Thirlby Clinic in Traverse City—and a mother of two young children— shares her experiences and tips on working out.
“Motherhood is a different shape,” Dr. Pohl says. “Knowing that helps. It’s hard to have an image of your body in your head from before you were pregnant, and see a completely different body in front of you now. It’s life changing. We see so much in the media about how fast celebrities get back in shape after pregnancy, but that’s not real life.”
Real life is diaper changes, feedings, doctors’ visits and mounds of laundry mixed with extreme sleep deprivation. “Finding time to work out doesn’t realistically happen in the beginning,” Dr. Pohl says.
For the first six to nine months, it’s important to focus on gentle, restorative movements, Dr. Pohl explains. Many moms experience a lack of sleep, and working out for an hour a day is unrealistic. Instead, Dr. Pohl recommends doing simple stretches, yoga, and taking short walks as these movements will help realign your hips and lower back, which move during birth.
After the first six to nine months, Angela says moms can try to schedule regular work outs, though they should still take it easy. “Things change during pregnancy,” Dr. Pohl explains. “It’s important to take it easy until you feel ready.” Don’t use heavy weights or do intense stretches. If you have persisting aches and pains while working out, ask your chiropractor or doctor about it.
“If you’re new to working out, and have time, it’s worth it to invest in a trainer to teach you how to balance your body,” Dr. Pohl says. “Moms have strong biceps from holding their baby, so they need to work on their triceps and the area between their shoulders.” Getting quality advice from a trainer, even if it’s just investing in one lesson, helps you to use your limited time more wisely.
Dr. Pohl suggests incorporating simple movements and exercises into your daily work day and reminds moms, “You’re never going to be back ‘in shape’ exactly as you were before. After birth, you’re a different shape. Your breasts, hips, and feet all change. You may lose the extra weight, but you won’t look exactly the same, and that’s okay.”
“The biggest thing is being active in a fun way and being a role model for your children to move their bodies.”
9 Things You Can Do in the Office and at Home
- Stand while you answer the phone.
- Take lots of water breaks.
- Instead of emailing, walk over to their desk.
- Use a yoga ball instead of a chair.
- Bring in your own food and snacks (avoid the office goodies).
- Do kegels at your desk.
- Write the alphabet with your ankles to help circulation.
- Start a step challenge with your coworkers.
- Do forearm stretches and roll your shoulders.
By MyNorth Media