If you Google, "how to get your body back after having a baby" you'll get a whopping 13,700,000 results. "Do this exercise to shed pounds!" "Eat this or don't eat that to get back to your pre-baby weight!"
Most likely, very few of these results will say "how to heal your body after childbirth" or "do these exercises to regain pre-baby function!"
Look, wanting to get back to your pre-baby weight is a real and valid concern. Women want and need to feel like themselves again after the life-changing upheaval of having a baby.
But what if, instead of revering celebrities who walked a runway 8 weeks after birth, we focused on allowing a woman to heal, then start exercising in a way that's appropriate for whatever hand she was dealt in childbirth so that ultimately, she can be even stronger.
You will (WILL) get back to regaining your identity and pieces of yourself (physically and mentally), no matter how far off that may feel right now. But instead of pushing through pain and dysfunction to do it, let's flip the narrative so that "getting your body back after having a baby" means instead to regain function, heal, and re-learn how your new body works in the post-baby world.
So here's a NEW list- instead of "drop pounds now" lists, here are 4 ways to REALLY get your body back!
1. Find a Physical Therapist
But not just any physical therapist- specifically, look for a physical therapist who specializes in women's health issues, sometimes called a "women's health PT" or a "pelvic floor PT." You should be able to get a referral from your OB, but sadly this is often not the case- so if you aren't finding that avenue helpful, then check out our RESOURCES page to find some directories. You'll quickly come to understand why this is standard care for postpartum women in many other countries, like France.
2. Eat For Your Nutritional Needs
First and foremost, work closely with your healthcare provider! The point is, your needs are probably different than they were before having a baby, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Try this, this, and this article for a helpful starting point. Some cultures even believe you should consume certain foods to help with the healing process - try checking out The First Forty Days by Heng Ou for more on this. If you can afford it, find a nutritionist to help you on this path (find one on our RESOURCES page).
3. Core City
OK, everyone knows you aren't supposed to exercise prior to getting clearance from your doctor, but what about after? How much, and what, should you do? You should discuss this with your healthcare provider, but there are many programs out there specifically tailored to postpartum women. These programs vary but all are focused on helping postpartum women regain function in their core musculature, healing diastasis recti, and restoring pelvic floor function - all important aspects that should be functioning again before you start 'regular' exercise. Try Restore Your Core, Mutu System, or Hab It. (Know of other programs? Leave a suggestion in the comments.)
4. Self Care
Say what now? You've got a newborn and probably haven't showered in two days, and now you are supposed to worry about self care? Look, self care doesn't have to mean taking 30 minutes to do a face mask in your bathroom (although it can). Self care can be really simplified - sometimes, it's about taking 5 minutes to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea while flipping through a magazine without feeling guilty or worrying about all the other things you want to get done while the baby is napping. Maybe it means taking 5 minutes to journal in your Duo Diary, or maybe it means calling a friend. Get creative- a few minutes here and there of YOU TIME can go a long way. (Here's a great list to get you started).
So there you have it. 4 ways to 'get your body back after having a baby'!