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Exercise After Baby: Easing into a Postpartum Fitness Routine

Fitness expert Ashley Reid smiles while posing outdoors

If you’ve had a baby, your body has been through a lot. 

After nine months of great change, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and have questions about your postpartum recovery, including how to begin an exercise program. 

“A challenge for a lot of moms is thinking “where do I start?” said Ashley Reid, a certified exercise physiologist who facilitates the Stronger After Pregnancy Workshop at Penn’s Solutions for Women. “I want to take that overwhelming feeling away.” 

Reid, who owns Active Mom Fitness and specializes in prenatal and postpartum exercise, has been engaged in the health and wellness industry for more than 15 years. Even she didn’t fully recognize the lack of fitness support for new moms until shortly after she gave birth to her daughter, now 3. 

“I really just came to realize that even with the extensive background I have, trying to stay active was tough,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of support out there or a lot of guidance.” 

How Long After Giving Birth Should You Wait to Exercise?

While you might be eager to jump right back in to your pre-baby fitness routine, be patient. There is a right way – and a wrong way – to ease into postpartum exercise. 

Talk with your doctor to see when it’s safe for you to reincorporate exercise, and consider contacting a postpartum fitness professional who can properly assess what exercise routine is appropriate for you. And remember, the postpartum journey is different for everyone

“From an expectation perspective, your body can take a year to adapt and adjust after pregnancy,” Reid said. “I take a realistic approach with moms: Let’s focus on getting that core strength down. Once you have that foundation down, then we take that next step.” 

Even if you were active before and during your pregnancy, the reality is your exercise regimen will likely look a lot different after giving birth. However, you’re probably still exercising, even if you don’t realize it.

“Moms who were active before pregnancy often have a certain mindset of what fitness should look like,” she said. “You have to shift your thinking – taking a 30-minute walk with your child is exercise. You don’t necessarily have to do a structured workout.

“It does count and it will make a difference.”

How Can You Get Stronger After Pregnancy?

Reid’s interactive workshop provides a supportive space for moms to address their concerns about postpartum recovery, abdominal separation, safely caring for their babies and the first steps toward fitness.

You can expect to learn the following:

  • How to address physical recovery expectations and postpartum concerns
  • What abdominal separation is and what it means for physical activity and exercise
  • How the muscles of your core work together
  • How to rebuild core strength
  • Body mechanics to prevent injuries while caring for your baby
  • Simple, safe exercises to do at home both with and without your baby
  • How to approach your fitness and activity goals while also balancing your responsibilities

“So much of what I do stems from building a strong foundation,” Reid said. “One of the biggest challenges is awareness. ... We have this idea that we should get our body back to what normal was before baby, but that perspective can lead to women feeling pressured and taking the wrong approach.

“It shouldn't be about getting anything ‘back.’ Your body is in a different state and that should be accepted. Regardless of your goals or fitness level, there is right way to do it so you can feel recovered, strong and fit."

Register for the Next Workshop

Each Stronger After Pregnancy Workshop is discussion-based, but attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing that’s appropriate for light movement. All fitness levels are welcome.

Cost is $30, and babies younger than six months can attend, too.

To register, please call 215-829-5020, or visit the Pennsylvania Hospital class schedule.

 

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