Post-pregnancy fitness is something that surrounds every mom in multiple stages. While it can be overwhelming, mental support and resources are available in a lot of places if you know where to look. We've collaborated with Miranda Harris, founder of Milky Fitness, a pre/post natal fitness and nutrition group with a focus on breastfeeding to give us the do's and don'ts of post-pregnancy fitness.
1. DO listen to your doctor.
Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise and wait for clearance. Doctors usually recommend waiting 6 weeks postpartum. If you want to get moving sooner or get out for some fresh air, light walks are totally ok at a leisurely pace. If you have had a C-section, walking can help you significantly. Tip: A good velcro belly support band can also help things in place as your body adjusts to no baby.
2. DON'T start lifting with heavy weights right away.
It's incredibly important to do things safely and slowly right off the bat. Reality is that routines and exercises that used to be easy, may not feel the same and that's OKAY! Listen to your body, you'll know what feels right. Start slow with lighter weights and work back up into your normal routine.
3. DO set realistic expectations/goals.
Your body just spent 9 months to grow a baby which is a HUGE undertaking, so understand that it takes time for your body to adjust. Don't do too much, too fast and don't be hard on yourself if weight doesn't fall off. Sow and steady loss or gains is sustainable and reasonable. Stay true to your body and stick to your plans. Tip: Take photos! Hormones can have an effect on the process and photos can be your best indication of progress.
4. DO listen to your body.
Make sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. You'll know when something isn't right. There's a fine line in the difference between soreness/discomfort and pain. Always ensure that you're taking plenty of time for your body to rest. Take that time to fine tune your nutrition and then slowly add in exercise. In some cases, it may also be a good idea to get a referral to physical therapy to check for things like Diastasis Recti and pelvic floor assistance.
5. DON'T fall for fad diets, 'miracle' products or gimmicks.
Be wary of companies that are preaching results in record timing with little to no effort. A mix of good nutrition, adequate hydration, movement and consistency is all you need to be successful.
6. DON'T compare yourself to anyone.
Everyone is different with their own goals and transformation journeys. Comparing yourself to any other momma out there (and we mean social media and celebrities) is not relative to your fitness goals and can be mentally draining. Things are not always as they appear. Focus on your goals and stay true to yourself.
7. DO dial in your nutrition.
Focus on your calories and nutrition FIRST. The only way to lose weight is a caloric deficit. The only way to gain weight is a caloric surplus. If you're breastfeeding, it's important to account for those calories as well and calculate that into any diet. Ensure that you're consuming a well balanced diet while keeping track of your calories and macros.
Breastfeeding tips: The average milk consumption is 26-32 oz per day. You will want to account for 20-30 calories per ounce of breastmilk produced. If you feed on demand, start with 500 and see how you feel. You can use any TDEE calculator and add “500 or ounces per day times 25 calories” to that loss number in order to “lose” while producing breast milk. If you wish to gain weight while nursing, add “500 calories or ounces per day times 25 calories” to the “bulk or gain” number. If you are nursing twins, do the same but double it.
(This is a rough estimate as everyone’s “needs” are totally different!)
8. DO drink plenty of water.
Hydration is one of the most fundamental aspects of our well-being. Period. Drinking enough water is essential to your body and especially for weight loss. Aim to drink at least .5 ounces of water per pound of your body weight at a minimum. If you need more tips on drinking enough water, check it out HERE.
An example of Miranda's recommended balanced day looks like this:
1 serving of oatmeal, a piece of fruit (usually a banana mashed into my oats, 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg.
1 protein shake with rice cakes! (I LOVE peanut butter cookie right now! If you are dairy free for your baby, GET THAT PHYTO!) If your calories have room- peanut butter and jelly on a rice cake is divine!
Chicken, green veggie, steamed rice or baked potato.
1 serving collagen in sparkling water (sweet cravings- Pineapple mojito is UNMATCHED) and fresh veggies and some dressing.
Steak (sirloin is lean!), yam with butter and a teeny bit of brown sugar, and a green veggie!
Before Bed Snack:
Halo top or a light ice cream of my choice for those cravings for sweets!