A fit pregnancy is one thing, but getting back in shape after baby has arrived seems a lot more daunting to me. Partly, I must admit, this is probably because of my high expectations and fear that I will never be able to get back to my pre-pregnancy running level, let alone improve my marathon time.
Depending of course on how butchered my body will leave the delivery room (that is, if I ever enter that room; we are planning to give birth in the comfort of our home) I am quite confident I will have no major difficulties getting fit again. Heck, I don’t even feel like I lost that much fitness over the last nine months!
What I believe will be more challenging is to find the time, energy and motivation to go out for a run or lift some weights.
Time challenge: Baby-care and household stuff will take up most of my time, and I don’t want to burden Ahmed with the task of babysitting when he has a lot of studying to do;
Energy challenge: Two words: broken nights;
Motivation challenge: The previous challenge is not conducive to feeling motivated to work out rigorously, plus I may not want to leave the baby at all!
Besides these three baby-related challenges, winter season is right across the corner (remember, I live in the Southern hemisphere), and we all know that dreary weather does not help to find the motivation to get into your running clothes.
That being said, I am determined to overcome these challenges and get into great postpartum shape. The first step to achieve this is to have realistic expectations. Perhaps I will not be able to run another marathon for the years to come, and maybe I won’t improve any personal bests next summer, but that’s OK. There will be times in the future when I have more space to focus on running, but for now my main goal is to be fit and feel good. Here are the steps I am planning to take in the first month to six weeks – again, provided that I have a smooth and natural delivery.
- As soon as possible, I will try to go for daily walks. On most days, I will carry baby with me in a wrap or the pram, while on others my walk will not be more than a quick trip to the grocery store without baby.
- Also, within days of giving birth, I will resume pelvic floor exercises as well as some other light exercises to regain some strength in my core, legs and arms. Examples are pelvic tilts, (modified) push ups, and lower tummy exercises.
- If I can find the motivation and time, I will continue some of the yoga poses I learned at the antenatal yoga classes I took during the third trimester or perhaps follow a postnatal yoga class on YouTube.
- I may consider investing in some home exercise equipment, such as dumbbells, an exercise mat, or elastic bands. I already have an exercise ball that I can use to do some of the light exercises described above as well.
After about a month to six weeks, I hope to be able to slowly go back to running, but this will depend on my recovery. I haven’t really thought of a Postpartum-Back-to-Running program, but I will write about it when I feel I am up to it again.
However, even when I go back to running, I am planning to keep focusing on strength training and stretching as well. In the past few years, I was in a great running shape, but I often felt weak and exhausted. I hope to find a better balance and be a bit milder with myself (such as skipping a workout if I feel really tired) and follow more of an all-round fitness approach rather than judging my fitness level only on my running form. I am convinced this will actually make me a better runner as well and, importantly, less prone to injury.
For more fitness motivation tips, check out this post! Also, if you have any tips to overcome (postpartum) fitness challenges please leave a note in the comments.