4 Things to Know Before Lifting Weights Postpartum

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked by moms who just had a baby about getting back to exercising as soon as possible after delivery, I would be rich AF. So today I’m giving you 4 things to know before lifting weights postpartum.

As a mom of 2 kids who are only 14 months apart and as someone who always had fitness and exercising as a huge part of my life, I can totally relate to those messages. I was very keen to resume my exercise routine and “bounce back” to where I was pre-pregnancy.

The first time around, I will admit that I wasn’t very gracious with myself and with my recovery process…and, I will be the first to admit that the main goal was to get my ‘’body back’’ at all costs. (I personally don’t like the saying ‘’body back’’, but this is a convo for another blog)

It didn’t take me long to realize that there was more to it than just getting back in the gym and, expecting to do all the things at the level I was doing pre-pregnancy as nothing happened.

I soon realized that there was A LOT more to it than just “bouncing back” and “listening to your body”.

It’s not just about ‘Bouncing Back’…

That whole “listen to your body” thing really amuses me now, because nobody really knows what they are actually listening for. It feels a bit like the one time I took my son to the doctor because of his asthma, and after she listened to his chest and lungs, she asked if I wanted to use the stethoscope to listen to it.

I was like: “Sure. This can’t be hard”

Well, she then placed the stethoscope in my ears and I just stood there pretending to know what I was listening for.

The reality is that I had no idea what I was listening to, what sounds I was expected to listen to, and what exactly I should pay attention to.

Let’s face it… This is how postpartum women feel when they are told to “listen to their bodies”. And this is especially true if that mom is someone who was used to pushing the limits when training prior to pregnancy. #NoPainNoGain

This is a phenomenon called “the athlete brain” (name created by fitness professional and course creator Brianna Battles).

Ultimately, You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s exactly why I decided to put together this blog. I feel there is a lot of misinformation and too many blank statements on what should and shouldn’t be done in the postpartum stages, without enough context.

4 Things to Know Before Lifting Weights Postpartum

1. Your doctors’ 6 weeks ‘all clear’ does NOT mean much…

Yup, you read that correctly! Most obgyns are looking for life-threatening situations or conditions at the 6 weeks check. If you have no life/death red flag then you are good to go.

What about the not so life-threatening things, but still INCREDIBLY important things that should be taken into account?

Is your pelvic floor fully recovered?
What are about your abdominal muscles? Have they regained all their strength back in just 6 weeks?
Are your hormones back to where they were pre-pregnancy?

The answer to these questions is very likely to be NO.

My recommendation is that you treat resuming exercise after pregnancy as you would an injury.

You wouldn’t just go straight into a sprint and breaking PR’s 6 weeks after an ACL surgery, would you?

Then, maybe it isn’t a good idea to do just that right out of the gate.

2. Humble yourself

Resuming exercise and activities after pregnancy is incredibly humbling! In fact, it was probably one of the most humbling experiences of my fitness life.

It does not matter how active you were during pregnancy or before pregnancy… you should NOT expect to have the same fitness levels you had pre-pregnancy. Of course, you can get your fitness back, but that will not happen overnight.

You are not too fit or too good to skip the rehabilitation part of the process.

A lot of the rehab exercises for the recent postpartum stages might feel silly or too simple for many, but they are needed and they will give you the foundation you need to not have long term consequences for doing too much too soon.

This is NOT a competition on who gets fit the quickest.

It is your body, and although I am not saying this to scare you…

You need to make educated decisions and be aware that doing too much too soon without the correct guidance might bring long term consequences that would’ve been avoided.

3. Simply Start with Something

New moms tend to panic and become overwhelmed about all the things they have to do now that they have all these little humans depending on them, a partner, food to cook, laundry to do, house to keep somewhat presentable… the list goes on.

It is no wonder that getting overwhelmed about all the things fitness-related can feel… well… overwhelming and somewhat frustrating for those who were used to spending hours in the gym, and now they are lucky if they get 1 minute to pee.

How do I know all of this?

Well, because I have been there!

What you need to do right now is start somewhere. Start with something. Whatever small thing that might be. Just START!

All you can do is go for a walk with the baby? Perfect, lace-up and get that baby in the stroller to go for a walk.

All you can do is a 15 minutes home workout? Awesome! Make those 15 minutes count and enjoy.

All you have time to focus on is 1 healthier meal a day? Great! Start with that.

Comparing how your fitness routine, health and body was PRE-pregnancy is not going to help you very much as your life is now different and priorities might have changed slightly… and, that’s ok!

Something is still better than nothing at all!

4. Work with someone who specializes in moms

I know I sound like a broken record talking about this, but sweetbabyjaysus! The things I have seen being given to recent postpartum moms, makes me believe that we might need to be a bit more emphatic on this.

Postpartum is forever, and anyone who has been pregnant at any point in their lives has experienced significant changes to their bodies, which need to be addressed and coached properly.

I have written a whole blog as to why moms need a trainer who specializes in moms, and you can find it HERE.

Actionable questions to ask when looking for a coach to guide you in this new stage of life:

  1. Ask if they have taken any pre and postnatal reputable courses and if they have attended seminars and workshops on this topic?
  2. Will they watch how you move and offer modifications to alleviate symptoms you might be experiencing?
  3. Ask what kind of strategies they have when they work with women who are getting back to fitness post-pregnancy?
  4. Are they comfortable talking about incontinence, vagina, organ prolapse? Or do they look way out of their comfort zone when you try to explain what you are experiencing?

As a mom who has once been stuck in the “get your body back” at all cost mindset and as someone who has been exactly where you might be right now, I know how confusing and overwhelming all of this might seem.

I just want you to know that you are not alone, and as it has been my passion and mission to bring awareness to the physical and emotional changes women go through during and after pregnancy, I want to let you know that even if we don’t work together… I am here for you. Today I’ve shared with you my 4 things to know before lifting weights postpartum… but I also have tons of other helpful guides for pre and postpartum moms. Come learn with Nat!

And before you go… I am your friend and your guide, and please let me know if I can help you on this incredible journey. And to help guide you on this journey I have an extra freebie just for you!

I’ve created a workout guide and meal plan teaching you exactly how I got 6 pack abs after 2 C-Sections (just 14 months apart!!). Click here to download your copy.

Inspire yourself and others! Follow me and save this post to Pinterest. Make sure you pass it along to all the new moms you know!