After 9 long months, you finally find yourself holding this little person that you made. You are in awe of this absolute miracle and overwhelmed by a love that you never knew existed. At the same time, a lot of mums find themselves feeling extremely despondent that the bump doesn't completely disappear when bub is born... Needless to say - a lot of women are very eager to get straight back into their exercise routines as soon as they have clearance to try and regain their pre-baby bodies. Celebrities are not setting very healthy examples for women either, with a lot of famous mums stepping out looking better than ever before, only weeks after having a baby!
As mums we need to accept the fact that everybody is different; some women bounce back quicker and with less effort than others! We need to learn to love and embrace our postnatal bodies - and give it a little credit! It created a human being! It took 9 months to make a baby - at least give yourself another 9 months before beating yourself up about not being able to "shake the baby weight".
Before you jump back into a vigorous exercise routine as soon as you have your 6-week clearance in hand - remember this: Your body went through a lot to create and give life to this little person. As with anything - there is a lot of rehabilitation that needs to happen before you can even think of getting back to a "normal" exercise regime! Your core is without a doubt stuffed, your pelvic floor will need a bit of work, and your joints are all still very flexible and at risk of injury while relaxin (a pregnancy hormone that relaxes your joints) is in your system.
If you are able to see a physio or your Postnatal Exercise Qualified Personal Trainer in hospital, you will be able to start your rehabilitation before you and your new little bundle are discharged! During the first 6 weeks your body enters a natural healing process and by doing some breathing and tightening exercises you can help your body repair itself much quicker and more effectively than if you don't do those exercises. Again - it is very important to do these exercises under the supervision of a Postnatal Exercise specialist!!!!! Once you then receive your 6 week clearance you can start some light strengthening exercises and light cardio. Emphasis on the word LIGHT! Once you reach the 12-week mark, you should be able to start increasing the intensity SLOWLY.
Honestly - it can take up to 6 months before you will be able to exercise like you did before baby. Don't beat yourself up if you can't run a 5km like you used to straight after having a baby. It will come - with time. Rather focus on correct nutrition (you are still "eating for two" if you are breastfeeding!) and rehabilitating your body to get to a good starting point. You may even find that after proper rehab you are fitter and stronger than you were before pregnancy! Take your time, and enjoy your baby!