Just Wait: All the Reasons It’s Important to Give Yourself Time to Recover After Giving Birth

Credit: genue.luben, Flickr

Had a baby? Don’t jump right back into your usual routine. Credit: genue.luben, Flickr

Jenn and I love getting reader comments on our posts because we learn so much from you, our dear readers! So when Deena Blumenfeld left a comment on a post awhile back, I knew I had to follow up with her for more. The post in question was about the Pure Barre founder Carrie Dorr’s workout regimen during pregnancy and immediately following. Deena, owner and principal educator at Shining Light Prenatal Education in Pittsburgh, Pa., made the excellent points that this may have been what worked for Carrie, but it may not necessarily work for other women — and it can be dangerous to work out so soon postpartum. In her guest post today, she shares her thoughts on getting back into shape postpartum and why it’s so important to wait that recommended 6 to 8 weeks before bouncing back into your fitness routine. 

With my first pregnancy I was dying to get back to my pre-pregnancy exercise routine and to lose the 50 pounds I’d gained. When my midwives informed me it would be at least six weeks with a vaginal birth and eight weeks with a C-section, I felt discouraged. I wondered if there was a “good enough” reason to wait and if I could go back to exercise a bit earlier.

Well, baby number one decided that a C-section was the way to make his entrance into the world. My postpartum recovery was not as I imagined. I could barely walk upright after my surgery and the whole thought of exercise worried me. What if I rip out my stitches? What if my abs never knit back together? After the eight weeks, I slowly went back to yoga and bellydance. Within nine months of working out and breastfeeding I had lost 65 pounds and looked better than I did before I was pregnant.

Baby number two was an all natural VBAC. I felt like I could climb a mountain after her birth. Needless to say, I over did it, twice. Six days after having her, I went shopping at Target for baby supplies. An hour into shopping I was exhausted and barely able to walk. I was grateful that my mother in-law had insisted on driving. When baby girl was six weeks old I drove, by myself, with my 4-year-old and the baby, six hours to see family. After a day’s walking and sightseeing, my postpartum bleeding (lochia) came back with a vengeance. It was so bad I debated going to the hospital.

Now, your experience won’t necessarily be like mine. However, it is important to understand why our doctors and midwives give us these 6- to 8-week guidelines for returning to our pre-pregnancy exercise routines, or beginning new ones. Let’s explore the reasons for these guidelines.


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