“I’ll be honest. I did not work out after my first two children were born.”
Let’s face it, after giving birth, there are a lot of changes to your body. You’re stiff and sore; not to mention, you’re mentally drained from staying up around the clock with your newborn. That’s why most doctors will tell you to wait four to six weeks before exercising. But that timeline isn’t always so black and white.
When can you expect to get back out on the road, or into the gym? It’s different for every woman based on a number of factors – whether you had any complications during pregnancy or birth, whether you had a C-section or delivered vaginally, if you exercised regularly during pregnancy, and frankly, whether your body feels up for it.
Whether you’re trying to get back into running after a pregnancy, or just trying to decide how much a new child will impact your ability to stay fit, it can be helpful to know what other women have gone through. Here are nine mums who share how long it took for them to return to a regular workout routine after giving birth.
“I took a full six weeks off from any workouts.”
“As soon as I [got my doctor’s OK], I jumped right back into long-distance running and high-intensity training and soon regretted not taking a more cautious approach. I learned from that, and the second time around, I gave myself the time I needed to ramp back up gradually instead of all at once. For me, working out after giving birth really wasn’t about weight loss or feeling like I had to get my body back. It was about returning to a routine that I knew made me feel better mentally and physically. Also, as silly as this may sound…I know that my kids are watching and learning, and I want to be able to lead by example.” – Katy Widrick, 36, mum of two and blogger at Katy Widrick
“My twins were 17 months old when I started working out regularly again.”
“I’ll be honest. I did not work out after my first two children were born. It was the furthest thing from my mind as I dealt with first-time motherhood, then parenting two small children. I didn’t put myself first at any point. In January 2016 [after having twins in the autumn of 2014], I was in the worst shape of my life. I was at my heaviest not pregnant, but that wasn’t the thing that bothered me. What really made me move literally and figuratively was how I felt about myself.”
“My self-confidence was shot. I felt lethargic, heavy, unattractive, and my self-identity took a nose dive. I decided enough was enough and told myself to just take it one step at a time. One workout, one healthy meal at a time. I think what took me so long to get back to working out regularly was my perceived notion that my twins needed me around. So much so that I couldn’t take 45 minutes a day to myself. It was all in my head. I was the biggest stumbling block to my health.” – Alison Lee, 40, mum of four and editor of the anthology Multiples Illuminated
“I started to work out regularly five to six weeks after my kids were born.”
“I began half-marathon training as soon as I was given clearance to work out and run from my doctor. Signing up for a race was definitely motivation to get back to working out. There were days that I really wanted to skip my training plan runs because I had mama guilt or was too tired. But my husband would tell me to just go and everything would be fine. It was good for me to have my alone time and good for him to have alone time with the kids as well.” – Angela Bekkala, 38, twin mum and author of the blog Happy Fit Mama
“It took a good 10 months to really get back to a regular workout schedule.”
“I always assumed I’d be up and ready to workout the minute my doctor gave me the OK and assumed that would be the typical six weeks. Unfortunately, due to an unplanned C-section and a post C-section emergency surgery, I didn’t receive the go-ahead from my doctor until 12 weeks. The next seven months were spent trying to figure out how to fit it all in – motherhood, work, taking care of my family and taking care of myself. It’s a constant shift in priorities.”
“I recognised I needed to approach running as an absolute beginner [because of my traumatic birth experience]. There were plenty of setbacks and I let myself take a step back, not worrying about progress. I just wanted to feel good and strong again. The distance and pace really didn’t matter. [My husband] is a runner too and recognises how important it is for both my physical and emotional well-being. He makes my runs just as much of a priority as his own.” – Erica Sara, 38, mum of one and owner of Erica Sara Designs
“It ended up taking eight weeks before I could go back to the gym for my first workout.”
“I did CrossFit all the way until I was 39 weeks pregnant and was itching to get back into it! I ended up getting mastitis a week after my baby was born. After being sick for weeks, it turned into a breast abscess, which I had drained twice before being admitted to the hospital for five days when my son was 6 weeks old. My son was born in late October and I went back to the gym for the first time on New Year’s Day.” – Lindsay Livingston, 31, mum of one (with a second on the way) and blogger at The Lean Green Bean
“With my first child, I don’t think I got in regular workouts until she was nine months to a year old.”
“Getting back into a ‘regular’ workout routine after baby is so tough because of the lack of sleep and breastfeeding. With my second and third babies, I was a more relaxed (and experienced) mother, so returning to a regular workout routine came a little easier (starting at four months and six weeks postpartum respectively). I also have a hugely supportive husband who knows how important running is to me and practically pushes me out the door because he knows that running is the ‘me’ time I need. I learned the hard way that running too soon after pregnancy is a bad idea. I had a lot of issues after my second pregnancy with pelvic floor weakness and leaking. You have to just be kind to yourself and not put pressure to get back to running or working out.” – Sarah Canney, 34, , mum of three and author of the blog Run Far Girl
“When I hit the eight-week mark, I went right back.”
“It helped to have a husband who supported me and understood how much I really wanted to get back into a routine. For me, the anxiety I felt from not working out was enough to get me going again. I rely on my workouts as a mental break; and with a baby who needed me, those mental breaks were even more important. Some of the biggest challenges included lack of sleep, lack of large blocks of time, and lack of a consistent schedule. But as a mum, you learn to roll with it. Do what you can when you can and remember that something is better than nothing. I made a deal with myself to not set goals prematurely. Having seen friends really hurt themselves, I was more interested in building back up to pre-baby workouts.” – Katie McFarland, 36, mum of two and author of Mom’s Little Running Buddies
“It took a solid two months at least to really get back to my regular workout regime.”
“After my first baby, I started working out immediately. I started running around three weeks postpartum and resumed bootcamp workouts shortly after that. My body wasn’t ready. I only made my diastasis recti and weak pelvic floor worse.”
“I learned my lesson and am taking it easy after the birth of my second child. For me personally, working out regularly post-baby was the easy part. I’ve always been self-motivated to work out because it’s a great stress reliever for me. The challenge was learning how to modify and change the style of workouts based on what my body was telling me.” – Chrissa B., 31, mum of two and blogger at Physical Kitchness