When you really dig in to what happens to your body during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, it is easy to understand why it’s called the ‘miracle of birth’. Your body changes to accommodate your growing baby, adapts to the extra weight and the shift in your center of gravity, and prepares for the process of birth leading up to labor. It is truly amazing. These changes are a necessary part of carrying and ultimately delivering your baby. However, once you give birth, the same changes that helped you during pregnancy can lead to injury postpartum if you are not careful about the workout you choose.
You moved differently for the last several months
For the last few months of your pregnancy, you had to make adjustments to the way you moved in order to accommodate your growing belly. Walking, getting dressed, bending over, showering, and a long list of other daily activities required you to take your new shape and weight into account. After pregnancy, you will have to adjust to yet another change. Movement will likely be easier postpartum but that does not mean you should immediately jump back into your pre-pregnancy workout routine in an effort to lose weight. Instead, you need to take some time and focus on your mobility. There is a time period after giving birth that your body is still actively changing. You may no longer have a pregnant belly but that does not mean that your body is completely back to normal. Take some time to get accustomed to your postpartum body. Focus on mobility over losing weight until you are confident that you are not subconsciously moving in ways that could lead to injury.
Pregnancy hormones can impact flexibility during and after pregnancy
The hormones relaxin and progesterone help relax your muscles, loosen ligaments, and loosen joints in order to prepare your body for giving birth. This increased ‘flexibility’ is a good thing when you are giving birth but it can lead to instability, pain, and injury postpartum. Increasing flexibility without increasing strength leads to instability. You are at risk for injury when you work out postpartum if your joints, muscles, and ligaments are still loose and do not have the necessary strength to prevent becoming overextended. In order to avoid injury, you need to focus on mobility postpartum and learn when to push and when to pull back.
Are you ready to get back to your pre-pregnancy size and activity level? It is tempting to try and jump back in to your pre-pregnancy workout routine right way in an effort to get back to ‘normal’. The reality is that it will take time for your body to get back to normal. The hormones and changes that happened during pregnancy can linger in your body. If you push your body too hard in the beginning it can lead to injury that will, ultimately, slow down your progress. As difficult as it may be, take some time to focus on mobility after you give birth instead of focusing on weight loss. Consider a program like MAPS Starter or MAPS Anywhere that will allow you to work out based on your current ability and stage of life.