Oh baby, it's hard to find the time. Here are a few tips.
For the last nine months, your body has been working hard to support two human lives. Now that you have had the baby (Congratulations!) and are working hard to keep him fed and comfortable, you can also start thinking about your own workout routine again. If you kept exercising throughout your pregnancy, great! If you were not able to workout during your pregnancy, that is a completely okay place to be as well. You knew your limits, and I am proud of you for not pushing them.
But, having a baby is more than a full-time job. How are you supposed to find the time, energy, and space to fit in some exercise? Here are a few tips.
First, remember that I am speaking generally. Every pregnancy is different, as is every birth, and every postpartum recovery. So, make sure that your doctor has cleared you for exercise. Ask him if you have any reservations or pain and make sure that you are both on the same page. If he wants you to wait, know that waiting will give you the time you need to return to full-speed when he clears you.
Once you are cleared, you once again have to remember to take it slow. You can't just jump back into your HIIT workouts without looking back. Whether you delivered vaginally or had a C-section, your body just went through a huge ordeal. Give it the space and time it needs to recover. Don't let anyone fool you, a C-section is a major surgery. Get used to walking again before you start running. A vaginal birth may have caused tearing or required stitches. Your body will tell you when it is ready to return to what you are used to.
Start from square one. Set up the stroller and walk around the block. Your baby may fall asleep or love to see the blur of new colors and smell all the new smells. And then you can slowly ramp up to what you remember doing pre-pregnancy. But, just give yourself time to find your groove. It's not a race to get back to where you were. You'll get there.
Maybe you turn on YouTube to watch an exercise video in your living room while your baby naps and, five minutes in, you hear your baby wake up from her nap and cry for you. And then you notice she has a dirty diaper. And by the time you change her, she's wide awake and ready to play. It's okay. You managed to fit in five minutes of exercise today! Good job, mama!
Now it NOT the time to condemn yourself for what you do or do not eat/exercise. You are successfully keeping a baby alive. You probably have not slept well in weeks, if not months. And you have a packed schedule of learning your baby's every noise, cue, and movement so that you can best love her. Just keep this in mind when you start hearing those thoughts that tell you to get back in pre-pregnancy shape ASAP. Any exercise is a win.
In order to maximize your time and fully focus on your workout, ask a friend or family member to come over and help watch your baby. Maybe your mom can hold him in the nursery while he naps—I'm sure she would LOVE that. Or your friend can take him on a walk in the stroller, giving you a little quiet time to workout. Or, maybe your gym offers childcare. Make sure your baby (and you!) are ready for someone new to take care of him while you exercise. This way, you can feel comfortable knowing that your child is safe and all of his needs are being taken care of. Now you can turn your attention onto yours, for the next few minutes at least!