It always amuses me when I see “before and after” pics of a woman pregnant in one photo, then not pregnant in the other, with the hashtag #transformation. Because it’s like, yeah, when you pull a human out of your body of course things are gonna look a little different! It’s the fastest natural way you’ll ever lose 15lbs. Even in the months following birth, there are changes going on in your body – changes like the shrinking of the uterus and enlarging of breasts – that have dramatic effects on the way you look and feel, yet require no effort at all on your part.
Yet here I am, writing a postpartum transformation blog. What can I say…. It’s a topic many women are interested in! So I thought I’d write out what my approach has been toward postpartum recovery after having three children. I’ll break it up into “trimesters”, since they are pretty distinct milestones and are perfect little training chunks.
Right after giving birth your body is going through a lot of stuff. And passing a lot of stuff, if you know what I mean. It’s in full-out recovery mode.
|1 week postpartum|
Diet: Your body NEEDS you to eat well during this crucial phase! However, this is also a time when you’re so overwhelmed by a newborn that you may forget to eat. Do your best to eat as well as you can. Having prepared/frozen meals ready to go is a LIFE SAVER during this time.
I treated this time as an assessment period. When I felt up to it (about 2 weeks postpartum) I got back to the gym and just put my body through some simple movements and stretches to sort of re-familiarize myself with myself.... see what had shifted, what was tight, what felt ok, etc.
Lifestyle: At this point I like to get outside as much as possible. The sunlight and fresh air do wonders for my mood and walking is a great way to ease back into exercise. For my first baby I stayed indoors for most of those six weeks (because it was winter, and because everyone said that’s what I had to do) and I was miserable. So for my next two I made a point of getting outside at least once a day. I also think the fresh air is important for newborn health, and I always felt that being in the sunshine helped establish their circadian rhythm (but that one’s just my own theory).
6 weeks – 6 months
At the six week mark your milk has probably regulated, baby has got the hang of nursing, and you’re getting into a lifestyle groove. Baby is going to start to get heavy now, so make sure your body is prepared!
|3 months postpartum|
Diet: Most experts will say that this is the point at which you can start thinking about dieting to lose the baby weight. Personally, I never had much to lose so all I did at this point was to eat healthfully, and eat plenty to support breastfeeding.
Exercise: More food, regular schedule, and a body on the mend makes this a great time to rebuild that physique! But I’m not talking about aesthetics. This is the time to work on all those postural imbalances, weakened core, tight hips, and whatever else I’ve discovered during the assessment phase. Let’s call it “rehab”. Keeping in mind also that carrying around a 10+ lbs baby takes its toll on your body, my focus during this time is always on functional movement, and overall health.
Lifestyle: Sleep is crucial. Without sleep I get sick, my milk supply takes a hit, and I’m a terrible mother to my kids. So at this point if I don’t sleep, I don’t train. Simple as that. Your body needs rest to grow, and at this stage growth and recovery are critical.
Baby is eating solids and sleeping better, and I’ve laid a good foundation of fitness. Now it’s time to work.
|6 months postpartum|
Diet: I never start actively dieting until the 6 month mark. At this point I’m comforted knowing there’s a little safety buffer in the fact that baby is eating solid foods, so that if my supply does take a momentary dip baby’s nutrition won’t suffer. At six months I’ll start really cleaning up my diet – still not counting calories or macros, but eliminating junk food and keeping track of portions.
Exercise: By now my body is back to a sort of baseline of fitness, and I can start tackling my goals, which are usually to regain any muscle and strength lost during pregnancy.
Lifestyle: Daddy is now fully capable of wrangling the babies on his own, so I’m able to go to the gym for longer periods more frequently. My life gets a lot more structured at this point.
I have had this weird goal of getting into the best shape of my life by 1 year postpartum, so at around 9 months I finally buckle down and get to work on that :P Baby is in a good place with food, so I have the freedom to get more strict.
|9 months postpartum|
Diet and Exercise: This depends on the program I’m following at the time; with my first baby I prepped for a figure show, and with my second and third I did the Oxygen Challenge. So I follow whatever nutrition and workout program they prescribe. I will say though that around 10-11 months is when I’ll start tracking macros and cutting calories in order to lean out to the level of conditioning I’m aiming for. If and when I cut calories, I do so ever so slowly (about 100-200 calories every few weeks) and add cardio modestly so I don’t hurt my milk supply.
Lifestyle: No change here. Except that I love the freedom of having a mobile baby!
|9 months pregnant|
|We made it! 1 year postpartum!|
Yours in health,