Thursday, January 29, 2009

Getting back in shape

I don't have too much free time around here these days (apart from the few minutes here and there that I use for eating, showers and washing the dishes); however, during the short stretches I do have, I decided that one of my top priorities will be getting back to a regular exercise routine. I feel well enough for a short and gentle daily workout.

I gained 15 kilos during my pregnancy, which is a lot for someone who used to be only 55 kilos. I don't know exactly how much I weigh right now, but I'm not too concerned about it yet. I'm not at all into calorie-counting - just good, wholesome, balanced food, which is important to any breastfeeding mom anyway. Since all my baby eats is produced by me, I must be properly and healthily nourished.

What bothers me more is the flabbiness in the stomach, waist and hips area. It's not something that can be noticed when I'm dressed, but I feel I ought to gradually work on stengthening those muscles, for my well-being and for the sake of my husband.

Various sources encourage women to wait longer, perhaps even a couple of months, before starting to exercise. However, in a few months I just might be pregnant again... and in case I experience a rough first trimester once more, I want to have a sort of head start. Of course, I realize I must be very attentive to my body, careful not to do anything that can be painful or cause potential trauma.

What about you ladies? How soon after giving birth do you normally start working out, and which exercises are your favorite for getting back in shape?

You can find many postpartum exercise videos on YouTube, such as this one.


Raven said...

Hello Anna,

Delurking here. :) I'm 28 weeks along right now with #2, and my kids will be 18 months apart, so I know the feeling that you want to start working out to get a start on things!

However, I'd encourage you to wait at least six weeks after delivery (not sure if you're there yet). Also, make sure you're not still bleeding at all, and if you start bleeding again when you work out, stop for another couple weeks.

Sadly a lot of the flabby stays for a while if you're breastfeeding; at least it does for me. It seems like my body is afraid there will be a famine and I might need to nurse seven babies off my stores of flabby. :) I hear when you wean that sometimes you get dramatic weight loss, but I wouldn't know since I weaned during pregnancy this time and am supposed to be gaining... sigh.

If you're feeling good and not bleeding, I'd say you're good to start some very gentle crunches etc. But take your body seriously when it tells you to rest. I didn't, and I ended up with mastitis and thrush, which are worse than flab.

Just my two cents and my experience!

Enjoy that baby,


Anonymous said...

I started walking every day within a week of giving birth to my children. Putting the baby in the stroller, and going for a nice long walk in the fresh air does wonders for a new mama! I would walk for at least 1/2 hour daily, usually more though. The walking, plus healthy food choices is what helped me get back into shape. It also did wonders for my sense of peace as well.

Dragon Petals said...

I think the general rule is (that I've followed) that once the bleeding stops, and does not get aggravated by exercise, you have the green light. For me this was about two weeks postpartum. Sit-ups and abdominal exercises you need to wait a bit longer with though, until the muscles that have separated during pregnancy join together. This can take several more weeks, usually around 4-6. If you don't wait until they are joined again you might risk injury.

I am about a year post-partum now and wearing my clothes from high school. Two months post-partum I was a few sizes higher, and got down to this size about 6-7 months PP. Since I had two babies very close together (10 months apart) I can say that you're PROBABLY not going to get back in your ideal shape before your next pregnancy. But you can certainly concentrate on being as healthy as possible, eating the right foods, and getting as much rest as you can.

And not to frighten you away from trying for another baby, but please do be aware that close pregnancies do increase your risk of pre-term labor in your next little one. This was the case for me. I had to read up on a lot of treatments for PTL and take it very easy to ensure the next little one didn't make too early of an entrance! Thankfully she was just fine, even though she arrived at 36 weeks. I'm not going to tell you, your husband, and the Almighty that you shouldn't try right away to increase your family, but I just wanted to share my experience as well, as someone who has "been there done that." :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna!'s good to hear that you're feeling well enough to think about exercise. I know that the common wisdom is to wait a bit, but if you've no special concerns it seems you should be able to indulge as your body feels ready.

I abided by this principle after my three children were born. The first couple weeks post partum were very uncomfortable, especially after my first baby, but after that I felt able to engage in some concentrated movements to get myself back in shape. (I should also point out that I was pretty active during my pregnancies...even bike-riding during my last trimester, & I do believe this helped, not only for my labors but for the recovery period.) My favorite exercise was walking. It was so good for me (and the babies!) to get out of the house & just enjoy the fresh air. I also liked leg lifts, & exercises that focused on my stomach muscles...kind of a modified sit-up. As well, there were just the everyday activities that helped me become stronger again: hanging laundry, climbing stairs, playing with my children.

Best of luck, Anna. It's true that after we give birth our bodies are not the same. But I've never believed in using that as an excuse to let myself go. We can still have healthy, strong bodies, even if that little bit of "pudge" doesn't completely go away!

sending you ((hugs))

Trish said...

Some of the flabbiness in the stomach and hip area will naturally "spring back" with time.

You can work on your muscle tone, but unfortunately, not much can be done with stretched skin except wait for your body to do it's thing.

Kacie said...

I hear ya! My weight has returned to normal, but my shape hasn't. I want to do some pilates to work on my stomach and back muscles.

That should help me to be able to carry my baby as well, since he is getting bigger and I like to wear him in a sling.

I also want to start running again sometime soon.

Linseygab said...

Hi Anna! Congratulation on your new little lovey. As a mom of almost 5 (one more month to go!), I have often dealt with the left overs, especially the flabby-ness of the empty womb. Sadly, there is nothing to do about this extra skin, and it will take about 3 months for the skin to shrink back to normal. It isn't extra fat, or fluid or anything, but skin.

Beyond that, I always start a program by two weeks after birth because I've always had births that were not to hard on my body (no tearing, no excessive bleeding, ect.) I start with slow walks, and gentle core work. Also, I have a stretch band that attaches to the door, that I can use to strengthen my arms and legs.

Later, add in steps, and hills, and after your bleeding stops, and you've had your post natal check up, you can start running, or do a DVD at home. It really does help to have some little thing to do at home everyday, it helps to keep a schedule. Good luck Anna!


Anonymous said...

I lost all of the baby weight within 2 months, I went on daily walks with my daughter in her stroller for a couple of miles. Of course when my husband came back from Iraq I gained it all back again and then some lol. Thankfully I have lost all of that again too.

It's wise of you to try to lose before the next pregnancy.

tales_from_the_crib said...

Daily walks are wonderful along with gentle stretching exercises. I start these the day after birth or sooner if possible (but then I had easy birth this time around, last birth I wasn't hardly out of bed for a week almost.) I wait until six weeks post partum to begin heavier workouts, though. At which point I will probably add back ballet, weight training, jogs and cardio-kick boxing (kind of martial arts based aerobics) and step class and such. It takes time but you will eventually feel like you are "back to normal" or at least close enough that no one but you would notice.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna, like you, I was dismayed to see my young, firm body after giving birth to my daughter a year and a half ago. I loved how I looked big and pregnant, but what was that flabby belly doing on my tiny frame?? I really didn't have any time to exercise, except for walks around the neighborhood, as I had no family nearby and none of my friends were very willing to help with my daughter. What time wasn't spent on feeding and caring for her or my home was devoted to sleep, not using up more precious energy! Amazingly...less than a month postpartum, I was back in my regular clothes (though the waistlines were still a tiny bit tight). In three months, I was back to my prepregnancy weight, though I had gained 35 lbs. during pregnancy (not sure what that translates to in kilos). Part of this, I can thank good genetics for. The other part: breastfeeding!! You weight will decrease and your muscles natural tone with the hormones released as you breastfeed! Then, of course, the fact that you can properly employ your stomach muscles again without a baby in your abdomen will also help. :) Anyway, do exercise more intentionally if that will make you feel better, but don't stress--God already gave you a way to get back in shape after pregnancy: the work to care for that baby combined with good ol' mother nature.

Samara said...

Greeting Anna. After my son's birth I did not exercise at all for about six weeks, then eased back into walking and women's yoga. I'd gained 45 pounds (20.5 kilos) during the pregnancy; 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) were lost via the birth, 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) more (probably water weight) in the next week. All of the weight was gone 4 months after the birth and I felt (and looked) back to my pre-pregnancy self. Breastfeeding helped a lot, of course- the real challenge came later, when my son's feedings tapered down and I had to learn to taper down my appetite along with that! A year of powerfully breastfeeding-fueled eating makes for a real habit, one that you must consciously change when your cycle returns.

The Whites said...

"However, in a few months I just might be pregnant again... "

That is exactly how I think all the time! Even when shopping for baby stuff... I'm like "we'll have to have 2 carseats anyways..." (assuming I get pregnant again after this one) lol. And, you aren't supposed to lose weight when your pregnant and still are supposed to gain the same weight again for the next baby! So, I'm going to try my hardest to lose all the weight before I get pregnant again so I don't have to double the weight!!! But, if you are breastfeeding "on demand" your fertility won't return for a while.
I think an exercise ball would be good for ab work, since then you aren't laying on the floor.

Tereza said...

My rule is 6 weeks because by then the bleeding is gone and you are more or less healed internally.
Be careful with starting too soon!!

Marianne said...

Hello Anna,
I rediscovered your blog and am so glad I did.
As a mom of 6 who used to be a PT and used to teach a very easy and safe transverse abdominis exercise all the time, I attribute this to my flat stomach and strong back. It is described here:
If it doesn't feel like you are doing much you are probably getting it right. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel) also co-contract this muscle, I believe.

BlueCastle said...

My midwife told me that you should wait until you stop bleeding. Any activity that causes you to start bleeding again, or increases your flow should be avoided. The saggy skin does gradually shrink back. Don't worry too much about it right now. :) Eating good food is half the battle, I think.

doctorandprincess said...

Oh, I took it easy until 6-weeks postpartum with my children. Your insides and muscles really need a break. I was back in the dance studio at 6-weeks with my first one. And that felt good. It wasn't like I was on bedrest and idle those 6 weeks, I was out and about. But working on my abs and working out-- no, I waited 6 weeks before I did anything hardcore and "on purpose". And I got back in my "normal" clothes.

I was a really little, not very curvy, virgin figure when I got married. Your married woman body WILL be different. Your hip bones aren't gonna go back to virgin hips again. lol :-) But, it's ok. I like what I look like now. I don't look like a little girl anymore. But, I'm not overweight, either. Pilates, dance, and walking was the best for me. So if you DON'T fit into some clothes, don't think that you have to lose weight, that might not be it, your bone structure and body has changed for life. :-)

Don't worry about it! Enjoy your mama body. It had a workout. Let it have some fun and relaxation.

Lori said...

Dear Anna,
I have read that a woman can start gentle activity, such as moderate walks, a few days after birth, but I agree with the women who recommend waiting until the bleeding stops for anything else (if even that). Also, I think you need to wait until any tears have completely healed before you do almost any stretches. And be careful with how you position your legs all the time, like when picking up baby or sitting, nursing, etc. Speaking from experience here, about the tearing, and activity. I tried getting back to routine within a few days of having my last baby, and while it didn't make me sick, when I got sick (two separate post-partum infections at the same time), they really rammed me, and knocked my out. I think it was because I had overly taxed my energy stores, and was less able to cope with infections. Take it slow, and trust that your body will recover soon, with some TLC, like the other ladies said.

Rachel said...

Anna--please take it sloooooow. It is important to give your body time to heal internally....

Eat well. Walk short distances. Light lifting. Drink plenty of water. The weight will come off. It may not be terribly quickly, but ease yourself into any sort of exercise.

Prayers for a speedy recovery...

Betsy said...

I'd echo what the other ladies have posted about waiting until your bleeding has stopped and you get a green light from your doctor or midwife. Exercise is good and healthy, but a major event like birth that usually is accompanied by at least some blood loss would justify caution and extra rest.

One thing to keep in mind is that once a woman has had a baby her body will probably never be exactly the same shape again. The secular culture here in America, and I'm guessing Israel as well, defines the ideal woman's shape as that which is common to teenagers. Sometimes in my cheekier moments I call it "the barren look." A mother not on birth control will normally receive her children at shorter intervals than what is considered "average," and the chances of her getting her pre-pregnancy figure back are less as she is more concerned about caring for her precious babies and providing them with adequate nutrition than many hours exercising and strict dieting. So I try to encourage all mothers to yes get reasonable exercise and eat nutritiously (this is not an excuse for slothfulness), but to reject the lie that every woman is to look like she's 16 her whole life.

Of course, some women just naturally pop back to pre-pregnancy sizes after their first birth, but I don't know any that keep doing that three, four, or more children. The older woman and mother figure happens to us all and it should not be something we are ashamed of any more than we are ashamed of grey hair. Doesn't Solomon say "grey hair is a crown of glory"?

Nurse Bee said...

4 months out from giving birth, I actually weigh less than I did prior to having my baby. I think this is a combination of breastfeeding and simply taking nearly daily walks for the first 3 months. I do have a little more flabbiness, this is due to my abdominal muscles seperating. Unfortuntely, this is permanent, but well worth it.
If you demand breastfeed, there is a good chance you will not ovaluate for some time. I have not yet had a period (although my husband and I take percautions anyway...we are in no ready for another baby...but that is best decided by each couple).
Don't push yourself too hard, your child is well worth the changes in your body!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Just to clarify, the aim is not becoming my 16-year-old self again. I'm curvier now, and my husband loves it. :o) I mostly want to get into good, healthy shape.

Lori said...

Incedentally, I commend you for wanting to look lovely (dressed and not) for your husband. God made them to react to visual beauty in a way we don't. We women want to pretend they are more like us than they are. Of course, they do love us no matter what, but that's no excuse to embrace flab with the white flag waving. This is NOT directed at any of the women here with their very good advice. I just wanted to draw attention to a good, and thoughtful, point you made. Just take it slow... :)

Anonymous said...

I have always been told to: Stay in bed for the first 2 weeks, don't lift anything heavier than your baby for the next 4 weeks after that and stay laying or sitting as much as possible. If bleeding starts its back to bed. This may be one reason I don't cycle for a year plus after I have a baby.
(That's what one "old timer" told me) My baby is 15 months and still no cycle. Although some ladies want to get pregnant right away it isn't necessarily healthy, especially if it keeps happening. Many of the ladies I know who have many children close together end up with lots of miscarriages later on. This may be due to "wearing out " the uterus by not having a sufficiant amount of time to pass for strengthening. Since breastfeeding is the only "birthcontrol" we use I appreciate not having to have my month cycle come for a long time. Doing too much too soon can help bring the cycles back and thus pregnancy.

As for tummy flabs, Your muscules have stretch tremendously and need a time to heal before you start working them. Much of the flabbiness will go away with time. Some of it may never go away. Even when I dropped down to 115 lbs and a size 4 I still had a bit of flabbiness. To my hubby it is a sign of motherhood.

Rest for now, enjoy your baby and too soon you'll miss those days when you had a reason to stay in bed with your baby.
So there's my 2 cents:)

simplebeauty said...

I started taking short walks about three to four weeks after giving birth. This was my favorite and still is :O)

Gombojav Tribe said...

My sister (doctorandprincess) gave very good advice. In some ways we just have to accept the changes to our bodies.

However, I am itching to get back to my pre-pregnancy clothes, too! Generally, I've found it best to wait until you've stopped bleeding. Then begin with gentle exercise like walking.

To get that flab under control I highly recommend pilates! Eight weeks after the birth of my fifth child I had to be a maid of honor in my best friend's wedding. I started doing pilates for just a few minutes a day at about three or four weeks postpartum. The difference is amazing! I got tight and toned again!

About being pregnant again right away....I know about that! I found out I was pregnant with my second child when my first child was three months old! They are exactly 12 months apart in age.

But, with my first child, I had been trying to schedule her feedings, let her cry it out to sleep, etc. So, my period returned almost immediately. Whereas with all my other children I have nursed them on demand and co-slept. When you do that your body produces more hormones that supress ovulation. All my other children have been 18 months to two years apart in age.

Coffee Catholic said...

I still have the post-pregnancy flub! That's just how it is, really. We women can't expect our bodies to return to the maidenly shape and firmness that they were before getting pregnant. That's just not very realistic for everyone. If I was you I wouldn't stress it too much! Everything is different now and it will never be the same. I don't get too hung up on "working out" but instead I do my housework and go for walks and eat fresh healthy foods. Besides, a woman needs a bit of fat in order to be fertile! Maybe that 15lbs you put on is your body preparing for the next baby?

Usually if a woman gains weight while pregnant even though she's eating good food it means she needed that weight to carry a baby to term. It's not one bit unusual for fat women like me to lose weight while preggo and thin women like you to gain weight. The body knows exactly what to do. When I spoke with friends that had gained like 80lbs they were mostly eating a diet of refined and processed foods and not moving around much towards late pregnancy.

Like I said, everything is different now. My advice would be: don't get too caught up with the hope that you can get your body to return to its maidenly form. You're a mother now! (And isn't it grand???) Be proud of the flub!

Betsy said...

I believe you want to avoid vigorous exercise (like sit-ups, etc) for 6 weeks, but you can begin walking as soon as you're up for it (and as the other ladies said, as long as there's no bleeding). I'm looking forward to lots of walks this summer after our little girl is born in May (Lord willing!).

If you're thinking you may become pregnant again soon though, keep in mind that that bit of extra fat could be indispensable if you're feeding one little one *and* growing another. It is nice to lose the baby weight in between kiddos, but I believe it's healthier to keep some of the weight on if you're thinking of having them close together. This is one of those times when you "can't have it all", if you're open to/choosing to having kids close in age, sometimes the figure is something that has to go! And it's a worthy trade-off in my book. I'm not saying it's okay to "let your body go" (health is the goal here, for mom and babies), but you may have to get used to being a size 10 or 12 for a while instead of the 4 or 6 that you used to be (as was the case with me). Many Blessings!

Kim said...

"They" always say 6 weeks. But I really think that it depends on how the birth was, your healing, how many kids you have, how you feel etc. With your first it is usually a much faster recovery...and with each one it tends to take longer since you can't take as good care of yourself when you're caring for so many others...not to mention your uterus being more stretched out etc.
With my first I was pretty active very quickly. Exercising probably resumed within 2 weeks. But really, watch how you feel and if your bleeding picks up or you have any pain then you need to wait. It takes about 6 weeks for the uterus to go back to it's pre pregnancy size, so that is a good indication that we shouldn't be way overdoing it until after that.
You could also look into belly binding for the belly issue. I'm going to try that this time around (although I'm pretty sure that after my 5th birth it's still going to look pretty bad. lol It has since #3.)
Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

I have a 3 year old and a 6 month old and with the last I felt great immediatly after delivery,with #1 it took me a good 6 months to feel even good. I didn't oluvate till 4 months after complete weaning. I have bad morning sickness with both but with #2 I gained 25 lbs in the first 3 months breastfeeding and even exclusivly breastfeeding on demnd I started back oluvating at 6 weeks after birth. Now most people agree that breastfeding will take the pounds off but with #2 I have never been so hungry in all my life!!!!! I started by just taking long walks with them in the stroller and then adding more.

Deanna said...

Dearest Anna,

To think that you are wonderfully and fearfully made! Allow some time to pass before rushing into getting back into pre pregnancy shape.

It took around 9 months to knit in the womb a sweet baby. 9 months.
Be kind to yourself and allow some time for your body to rest from being pregnant and creating a family.

You will see first hand that after carrying a baby, your body will be different even after you have got your body back in shape.

Just like when you were a 5 year old child compared to being 20, your body will changed.

You are now a young woman that has given birth and the body will have changed...still wonderfully and fearfully made.

6 weeks should pass before exercising after the natural birth of a child.
To allow the body to mend, 6 weeks should pass before sexual intimacy takes place.

A lovely amount of time.


Kate said...

This is a good article! Also I enjoy this video...however I would wait until the bleeding stops to start it!

(copy paste to access links!)

Rachel said...

Have you read Sheila Kippley's "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing"? This is not necessarily a book about family planning, but shares about ecological breastfeeding. There are 7 standards for eco-breastfeeding and based on what I've read in your posts, you're most likely already doing most of them. Sheila says that if you follow these 7 standards, your period most likely won't return for an average of 13 months! There are always exceptions and it's good to be mentally prepared for another pregnancy. God's timing is always best, but I thought you'd be interested.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the way you look. It will take awhile for the skin and body to return to normal. As long as you are eating properly and getting good rest, and a little walking when you feel up to it, you will go back to normal.
It took awhile for the 'deflated balloon-belly' to go away. It took about 6 months without effort. I suppose it would've returned sooner if I had put some effort into it. I really just felt the need to focus on baby ;).
Jen in OK

Undersharing said...

I know what you mean about lower abdominals - though I don't have children, I had surgery on my bladder as a kid and always have had trouble with the area. If I don't keep them in good shape, I feel the difference in my balance and it can feel like I have legs and a torso that aren't part of the same body.

With the lower abs, exercises that use your legs work even better than traditional crunches or sit-ups. Those are still valuable, but leg exercises tend to get the job done more directly.

Depending on what you're comfortable with, here are the exercises I was taught when I had a personal trainer (whom I loved, her exercises made me feel so energetic):

-Leg lifts: Lay with your back flat on the floor and lift your straight legs about 30cm off the ground. You can either hold them there for some time, then let them down and repeat, or you can make it a more intense exercise by gently, slowly raising and lowering your legs by a few cm while still in the air.

-Spelling: Same position as the leg lifts, but now you get to spell your name with your legs in the air. My trainer would make us do the full thing, middle names, any titles (BF is a PhD so he had a better exercise). LOTS of fun.

-(Hard) You can hang from a bar (I did it with bent arms kind of like a pull-up), cross your legs, and raise them.

I know there are people who run about a month or two after having babies, but my mother was in the army when she had me and had a milk leakage problem. It does have the benefit of being one of the best full-body exercises you can do in a very short time - if you only get 20 or 30 minutes to yourself that's still an incredibly good workout. Besides, what prepares you better for running after a toddler than running?

Ok, ok, ok. I'll stop gushing about running. Except for one more thing, you can do it in a skirt! I've run in stretchy, relatively full below-the-knee skirts while traveling before and it works just fine as long as you have some lycra shorts on underneath to prevent chafing.

A suggestion I've seen other places is to wear a very supportive, padded bra to prevent extra stimulation which can cause leakage and pain. One woman called hers her chest armor when she was breastfeeding and training for a triathlon.

Good luck! I know it's hard, but you're going to feel so much better.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

Walking is really the best thing I can recommend from my experience. Put the baby in the pram and off you go :) but I would endorse the other ladies advice not to do too much until the bleeding has stopped. I don't think 'spot' exercise (eg. crunches) really does much at all. I lost my pregnancy weight and then some just from eating properly and going for walks with baby in the pram. I didn't even mean to lose weight - they were just lively, curious babies and loved going for walks!

Hope this helps

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

Anna, that is fantastic that you already feel physically well enough to exercise. I personally could not stand up through a church service for 2 weeks and had trouble with stairs for atleast that long. I think it took me about 8 weeks to return to my normal daily routine without pain.

If you feel up to it, I'd advise a moderate amount of exercise. It will make you feel so much better, but keep it reasonable. My friend who was only 26 when she had her first child and was always in excellent health developed a blood pressure issue because of starting exercise too vigorously after giving birth. As a result she had to wait 12 weeks before resuming exercise, and has also been advised to have any children she would like within the next few years because this problem will be worsened with age and subsequent pregnancies.

Keep in mind that it took your body 9 months to grow so much for the baby and it will reasonably take 9 months to return to normal. Hopefully you will have a chance to recover physically from the demands of this pregnancy before becoming pregnant again, and breastfeeding is wonderfully made to allow for that.

Anonymous said...

Hi, as an older mom, I am 41, and have had nine children, I would prayerfully ask you to wait until the 6 weeks are up for anything more than a gentle walk. I overdid it much of my mothering years, don't we all, I lifted heavy bags of feed and hay. I was on a tractor at 3 weeks postpartum. I have a woman's injury because I did not heed the waiting time. I did not allow my uterus and supporting ligaments to regain their elasticity before requiring them to support themselves. Pregnancy hormones cause tendons and ligaments to relax. These hormones stay around for awhile and will prevent your body from tightening up. I am slowly working on exercises and postures to correct my pelvic trauma. It is not fun, so please enjoy your baby and in time, you will rebound. I thank the LORD for the way HE made our bodies work, and rebuild. After nine children, 1 set of twins, I am still strong and love gardening and such with my family. Be blessed, Theresa

Dirtdartwife said...

Oh hon... do NOT worry about it just yet. It took your body 9 months to grow and nourish your y'ung'un, give yourself at least 9 months to regain your prepregnancy self.

I tossed all my prepregnancy jeans three weeks after having my first baby, thinking I'd NEVER fit into them again. Little did I know that mama's don't change THAT fast after having a baby and 8 months later, I was smaller than I was prepregnancy.

Sarah said...

with bub#2 due in 2 weeks, this is something ive been thinking about too, and this is my conclusion: other than walking and pelvic floor excercises, im not doing any 'excercise' until after the 6 weeks check, when the doctors say everything is ok. even then its going to be difficult, since i have exessively loose joints to begin with and they go haywire with pregnancy it seems, but i know what not to do to exacerbate them.

i gained 25kg with my first, and have only gained 15 this time round (not so much a problem for me as i am quite tall) so im not too fussed. and i have accepted that my body will never go back to the same shape it was before. the same weight perhaps, but the shape seems to have permanently changed. i swear my ribcage was never this shape before.

Amy Evans said...

I'm still waiting to get back into an excercise routine after the birth of my first baby. Never mind that it was 11 1/2 years ago. :-D

I guess I'll add another entry to my list of "things I'd do differently if I had it to do all over again".

angela said...

Hi Anna,

I have 3 children, my youngest is 7mos. I am 31 and of average size. I don't know if it's just because I've convinced myself because I wanted to or it's true, but I believe that it takes 9mos to put it all on and it will take some time to get it all back in shape. I have always lost the weight by keeping busy and breastfeeding. Don't push yourself too hard. Anyway, that's probably not much help, but babies do have a way of running it off of you. Have a great day!!!

Helen said...

Hello there.. just to say congratulations on the birth of your beautiful little girl.. and to say thank you for such a wonderful blog. I have chosen you as one of the blogs which encourages me to receive the lemonade award.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna!

I also put on around 15kg with my first (now 7 months) and after 3 months i had lost all but 8kg of it. I must admit that the last 8kg has been very hard to shift, and it all seems to be on my thighs and hips.. i have been out walking daily, i dont snack and only eat 3 healthy meals a day but it still doesnt seem to be shifting. I don't know if it ever will.

The point is that of course you will probably never be the same shape again, but don't be too hard on yourself and give you're body time to repair after the birth. Walking is a great exercise and it's even more fun with the baby (keeping you company!). My little girl loves to go out in the pram with me.

Good luck with everything!

Lori said...

Dear Anna,
I haven'teven read all the comments and 2 women have told you that you're not likely to get pregnant while breastfeeding exclusively. Which is an OLD WIVES TALE. I know it' still popular and widely in distribution. It makes sense, which is why it's to popular. Hormones, blah, blah. Now, I have the impression that you would be happy to get pregnant in three months, and you may well! Now, only God can allow this miracle to happen, and for many women He dosen't, for a long time. But I've known more than a few women who breastfed exclusively and got pregnant within 10 - 16 weeks post-partum. Just so you know!

Yours truly,

Anonymous said...

Hello Anna,

Here is something that a lot of our clients like to do. It seems to really help with the abdomen muscles. I also believe this is one of the excercises that work to put those muscles back together (if you had yours seperate on you). One of our clients muscles seperated to 4 fingers, and doing these, she has gotten them right back together.


Anonymous said...

My doctors insisted I wait six weeks. Like others said here, it gives the muscles time to start to heal, otherwise, you risk a hernia. Hernias can require surgery. It is natural to want to return to your pre baby shape fast and there is certainly pressure on women to do that, but you need to be patient and wait just a little while.

Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

From what I understand from my midwife, the more active a mother was both before & during pregnancy, the easier time she'll have getting back into an active routine post-baby. I began doing my usual several miles of daily walking nearly the moment we arrived home from the hospital. Peapod had severe jaundice and needed to be out in the sun to help clear this up, so we spent much time outdoors, in our backyard and on the beach across the road, during her first week of life. I added in some pilates and bellydancing when I was six weeks postpartum and began swimming again when she was three months old.

I gained thirty pounds during my pregnancy and lost twenty of these on the day she was born. The last ten pounds took several months to come off, even with exclusive nursing, but that's not unusual for the mother of a preemie especially. By the time Peapod was one year old, I weighed much less than I did before ever becoming pregnant, which was funny as I never did anything more than my usual activities, well, except chasing after a toddler. That helps burn the calories. ;D

Linda said...

In Holland, the experts will tell you to start working out immediately after you've given birth. Obviously, VERY gentle excercises, but not waiting more than 3 days after a normal birth.

I think I started within a week. It was o.k. I do think your body absolutely needs it.. it's not so much that you've actually gained weight and are fatter, but your abdominal muscles are expanded a LOTTTTT and need to go back where they belong..

Greetings from the netherlands ;)

C.W. said...

Dear Anna,
Congratulations on Shira's birth! We are rejoicing here for you.
I would counsel you not to be too hard on yourself at this stage. I remember crying when my second baby was six weeks old, and I had to buy a larger size. In two months those clothes were much too big. I just hadn't given myself enough time.
However, I also want to commend you on your diligence. I was not so diligent and didn't worry about a bit of extra weight here or there. After eight years and five babies, I carried almost 30 extra pounds. How I wish I had been more careful!
I finally began a program of exercise and diet. (I have no nursing babies right now although I would love one.) The thing that helped me lose that extra weight was weight lifting. I started small, lifting soup cans, and focus on larger muscles (back, chest, upper legs, etc.). I've found that weight lifting does not have to be strenuous or build a manly form, but it does strengthen the body (muscles and bones) and increase the metabolism. Also, I don't have to leave my children to do it! And there are plenty of exercises that can be done using your own body weight.
Whatever exercise you do, please be careful not to start too soon or push yourself too hard. You'll have enough time to get in shape and your family really needs you right now. God bless, C.W.

Anonymous said...

I believe the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to rest. If you feel like you need to exercise then just get out and walk.

Try not to over-due-it....I can tell you even without lots of exercise your body will bounce back no need to worry:)


Raven said...

I second the recommendation for Sheila Kippley's book-- fascinating, and if I'd have actually napped with my baby like she recommends, I probably wouldn't have gotten mastitis, and I wouldn't have ovulated only 8 months after birth. :)


Wendy said...

Anna, congratulations on your beautiful baby! I have to echo the women who've advised you to take things slow and not put too much pressure on yourself and your body to get back into shape right now. Your body has been through a lot and needs time to heal, and rest and lots of healthy food are good things in the immediate postpartum phase. Not to say that you need to be bedridden, but it's just not worth it to push yourself. As others have mentioned, there can be lasting physical consequences to doing too much too soon after giving birth.

Personally, I found that breastfeeding really does help a lot with getting one's body back to normal, and yet, your body will tend to hang on to those flabby bits as long as you're nursing. I lost my pregnancy weight in the first 6 weeks and was back in my regular clothes, but my body wasn't completely back to normal until after my daughter weaned at 1 year old, and my stomach finally gave up that last little bit of extra fat.

Take care of yourself and enjoy this sweet time with your new daughter. Wishing you the best!

Jennifer said...

All of these ladies have given very good advice about gentle walking and the like. I'm a large woman and I weight only 20 pounds more than I did when I married (9 years ago)and 5 children ago (I know, 20 pounds may seem like a lot. But with all that has gone on in my life...). I defiantly wasn't fit to begin with, but I've starting exercising everyday now and I've already lost 9 pounds (in 2 weeks). Only 76 more to go!

I have never lost while nursing, but then, I was never regularly exercising either. I did loose while pregnant, though. My first was 32 pounds lost! Whatever you do, please don't count calories or fat. Your little one needs those calories and fat. And so does your body. Just as much now as it did a month ago. I read once that if you exclusively nurse, you burn as much calories at each feeding as you would running 4-5 miles! Wow!!

Listen to your body and take it easy. I don't think there is anything wrong with putting your little lovey in your wrap/sling and going for a little walk. The fresh air will do you both good (although, I know from experience, it will benefit you most!.)I'm not talking 5 miles or anything, just a little stroll around the block or up and down the street. It may not feel like much, but with the added weight of your daughter, it will be enough for now. As long as you are not bleeding heavy, I think this kind of walking should be fine. Doing something like this at a slow and easy pace, will make it easier later when you can add more strenuous and long exercises.

Jennifer D

Susie said...

I started exercising right after giving birth to both of my children in the form of walking. (I exercised while being pregnant too). After my 6 week check up I started doing a little more vigorous activities.

Don't be discouraged though. Your body will never be the "same" but it does get better if you eat healthy, nurse, and do some form of exercise. It just takes time.

I have found walking, pilates, and lifting free weights everyday helps (building bones too which is excellent for women). I also use exercise dvds and exercise in the morning so that it's out of the way for the day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I'm now 6 weeks postpartum following my 3rd C-section. (I have a health issue which required the C-sections, unfortunately.) I started gentle exercise with my doctor's permission at 2 weeks postpartum. My favorite exercise as a new mom, by far, is walking. When weather permits, I love to get my children outside and walk. In bad weather, I have a "walk-at-home" video that I use to stay motivated.
Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful daughter, and best of luck!
-Allie C.

Mrs. Lindblom said...

The best thing you can do to get in shape- NURSE THAT BABY! I've been nursing my daughter (who's my 2nd baby) for almost 8 months now and I'm 5lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight.

Mrs. K said...


I am so sorry that so many people have taken this post in the wrong light. In my humble opinion, I believe what you were trying to convey was not the want to "regain your maidenly figure", but the fact that you want to be healthy. And this is so very important. I applaud your concern for not only your health, but the thoughtfulness you are showing towards your husband and child in considering your own physical health. Too many woman forget that having a baby is not an excuse to let it all go. Pay no heed to some of the lectures you received, many of them were thoughtless. You blatantly stated your wish for health and strong muscles, not the vain desire for a perfect body.

And kudos to you for thinking ahead to the next baby. There are many Nay-Sayers of closely spaced children, but I have found most of the rumors they spread to be fictional contrivances of old wives tales. I myself have a set of boys who are 14 months apart, and I can assure you, if you have a history of general good health, and healthy pregnancies and infants, it will be, God willing, just fine.

Try not to become discouraged, God will guide you.

God Bless you,
~Mrs. K

Anonymous said...


What's it been 2 or 3 weeks since you had the baby? Don't worry about "getting back into shape." You are into natural living, so just relax and wait. Take walks, nothing too strenous. Most likely your weight will go down and most of the flabbiness will go away.

Vera Prince said...

What clothing are you comfortable working out in? If you are home alone, do you wear less modest clothing?

C. said...

I started after number 2 at about 3 weeks. I was feeling well enough to do something "heavy" so I went for it. I bounced back faster that time around and was much more happy with myself.

Have you tried belly binding? I have a friend who did it and now swears by it. Might be worth a shot!

Anonymous said...

First of all, a hearty "Mazel Tov" on the safe arrival of Shira!

Second, I will have to disagree with the other Lori (my name is Lori too!). It is definitely NOT an old wive's tale that exclusive breastfeeding prevents pregnancy!

A woman is highly unlikely to become pregnant in the first six months of her baby's life (about a .5%-2% chance) if she meets the criteria for lactational amenorrhea, as follows:

1. Breastfeeding must be the infant’s only (or almost only) source of nutrition. Feeding formula, pumping instead of nursing, and feeding solids all reduce the effectiveness of LAM.

2. The infant must breastfeed at least every four hours during the day and at least every six hours at night.

3. The infant must be less than six months old.

4. The woman must not have had a period after 56 days post-partum (when determining fertility, bleeding prior to 56 days post-partum can be ignored).

So exclusive breastfeeding DEFINITELY reduces the chances of becoming pregnant again, especially for the first six months after baby is born.

The chance of pregnancy is 1% before the baby is six months old and 6% before your first postpartum period with ecological breastfeeding, which has a whole bunch of criteria I won't bother listing it if you're interested.

Point is, NO, it's not an old wive's tale, it's just a fact of life. Yes, some people do become pregnant when their babies are very young, but it is an exception rather than the rule.

BellaMama said...

First time commenting, and congratulations on your precious gift!
I am a mom of 6, 7yrs and younger with no multiples. I've run the gamut of exercising before, during and after birth. "Listening" to your body is the biggest thing, if you feel ready to exercise, then you need to get the body moving. First sign of overdoing it is overheating, then dizziness, then blacking out. You must drink extra water and eat extra food, contrary to common thought: I couldn't lose weight after #6 (born March '08) until I did this and I was still solely nursing. I recommend, as I do about 2-4 wks postpardem (which is generally when I feel better), is to start slow with stretching exercises. The hormones are still regulating and your joints are still going back.
But then again, I exercised with much stretching and tons of walking before I had my first and then easily lost the weight in 2 months and also with baby #2 with little exercise and starting to walk again.
Hope this is helpful and you soon are where you would like to be!
Again, mazel tov!

Sasha said...

I also have a question since you know it better - isn't breastfeeding a contraceptive for most women?

Mrs. Anna T said...

I certainly wouldn't "count" on breastfeeding as a measure of preventing pregnancy. For me, exclusive breastfeeding is the way I choose to nourish my baby, and that's it. I might, or might not, become fertile again soon. Perhaps the chances of becoming pregnant will be lower while I breastfeed, but ovulating even once could be enough - just as it was with this baby... ;o)

BellaMama said...

Mrs. A is right. Breastfeeding doesn't keep every woman from ovulating.
I nurse solely until the next baby is on it's way. I'm usually 4-6 months along before the nursing baby is weaned, not really by my choice, but even for all my efforts of eating better and better and drinking an incredible amount of water, I dry up. I see it as God's way of giving me a few months before the next baby comes.

Each woman is different and even after each baby is different.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I am sure that you aren't trying to prevent pregnancy by breastfeeding. However, the statistics bear out that breastfeeding does prevent pregnancy to a degree. Perhaps it is simply just God's method of natural child spacing?

The average first postpartum menstruation for women who are breastfeeding on demand is around 14.6 months after the birth of the baby. The first 2 or 3 postpartum menstrual cycles are usually infertile (either because they are anovulatory or because they have abnormally short luteal phases and thus prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg). It is unlikely that you will ovulate before your baby is six months old unless you give her formula. If you continue breastfeeding heavily, there is a less than 50% chance that you will ovulate before Shira's first birthday.

Again, it's undisputed medical fact that "breastfeeding provides more than 98% protection from pregnancy during the first 6 months postpartum if the mother is fully or nearly fully breastfeeding and has not experienced vaginal bleeding after the 56th day postpartum." Sure, you could be one of the 2%, but it is a pretty reliable method of child spacing. :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Again, I realize breastfeeding lowers the chance of becoming pregnant. BUT, counting on it is not something I would recommend to a woman who is absolutely against having another baby soon.

Sheila said...

I was so skinny before I had my third baby, and I gained 60 pounds with her. But I went back to 121 pounds pretty quickly. The problem was that I gained another ten pounds over the next ten years. And one pound a year adds up (after twenty years, that's twenty pounds). So it is tough.

I just exercise a lot. And watch what I eat. There really is no magic formula. It just takes work, unfortunately!

Mandi said...

I didn't read through all the comments...but here is what worked for me. My two boys are 11 months apart and my baby is only 1 year old now.

My husband and I disregarded the 6 week wait for intimacy. We were careful and it was wonderful to be back together that way after the births of our babies. We waited just one week with the first and two with the second.

With both of my children I started walking a lot a soon as I could after they were born (both were winter babies). I bundled them up in the stroller and just walked and walked. I didn't try any strenuous exercise (I'm a competitive rock-climber) until about 2 months post-partum. I also watched what I ate. I had gained 55 pounds with both pregnancies (I was only 135 to start) and so had a lot to lose. By three months after each birth I was back to my original weight (and pregnant again after the first one) and by six months after my second was born I was back into the jeans I wore on my honeymoon.

I, like you, was very restless with the way I looked and felt. My squishy stomach and flabby muscles drove me crazy. My husband was patient and encouraging but I couldn't wait to start looking and feeling like "me" again. I'd just advise you to remember that 3 months will be gone before you know it and you'll probably be doing pretty well by then. It doesn't feel very good to be so out of shape but with patient gentle exercise it'll come together.

Mrs. Anna T said...


I understand your desire to be intimate with your husband again! The only thing that is preventing us from doing that is our religious beliefs: since we observe the Jewish laws of family purity, we must wait until any trace of bleeding stops completely, and then another week. Right now, it looks as though it might still take a month or more... *sigh*

Mandi said...

Of course your religious observance is the most important consideration but I'm sorry you have to wait. Patience and self control eh?

Another thing I often did was simply flex and un-flex my muscles while sitting and standing. It starts the toning process but isn't at all strenuous.

Anonymous said...

Intimate a week after giving birth? I have read that that is very, very dangerous and would not recommend it to anyone. Indeed, a woman died a year or two ago and the cause given was that she had been intimate 3 or 4 days after giving birth.
Let the body heal. Most traditional cultures wait at least a month if not more. I never tore much but still cannot fathom being intimate so soon. I know very few women who felt the need so quickly. You've got so much to deal with, and so little sleep, that intimacy usually takes a back burner for the first month or two. It's natural. I wouldn't want any husbands who may read this to pressure their wives to be intimate a week after birth. It's simply scary. And there are other ways of being intimate, too, you know.

Mandi said...

It wasn't scary. It was just what we wanted to do and what we could do.

Every woman and every couple is different. No loving husband would pressure his wife into doing something that hurt her. No rational woman would do something that was enormously painful and damaging. Some wait six days, others wait six months. One week isn't doctor recommended...but then neither are a lot of other things. I'm not advocating it, just mentioned what worked for us.