You've just been through 9 months of physical and hormonal changes, while growing a human (or a few humans) inside your body. Your activity levels haven't been what they used to be, and even if you had a "fit-pregnancy" you toned down your regular activity. Getting the baby out is by no means an easy feat, regardless of whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section. And when the baby is out, you are still stuck with a big tummy! Many women expect it all to deflate to regular size instantaneously, and in a way I do blame Hollywood and celebrities for creating false expectations.
Let's talk some mechanics for a bit..
During pregnancy your body releases a hormone called relaxin to help your joints to relax. This makes the whole birthing process possible - imagine trying to squeeze a baby out if your pelvis was still rigid. This hormone is found in your body for about 6 months after giving birth. What that means is that your joints are compromised and any jarring movement (running, jumping etc) can cause an injury. And looking after a newborn while nursing a joint injury won't be much fun...
Also, regardless of your birthing method, the weight of the baby places an immense stress on your pelvic floor. Many women suffer from Stress Urinary Incontinence as a result of pregnancy (peeing while you sneeze, cough, jump or anything else is not normal..) and some even struggle with Pelvic Floor Organ Prolapse. I strongly recommend that EVERY woman should have a proper pelvic floor examination by a qualified Physiotherapist post birth to determine what (if any) damage has been done.
And then there is the good old core.... If I had a dollar for every time a mother has said to me "what core?" I could retire today. A good pregnancy fitness regime delivered by a prenatal qualified fitness professional can try and protect your core as much as possible, however every woman will have some degree of abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti) after giving birth. Again - it is just one way of accomodating the growing baby - your muscles seperate to make room. Completely normal. As your body enters its natural healing process straight after birth, the body sorts that out. But by 6 weeks post-birth about 53% of women still have a Diastasis Recti (some more severe than others..) Planks, crunches and sit ups won't help your core to get stronger, in fact - it will just make your Diastasis Recti worse! Seeing a physiotherapist or someone qualified in postnatal rehab will help to show you some safe exercises that can help you heal from the inside out.
Low Pressure Fitness is probably the best way to get the above issues sorted, but if you don't have a qualified trainer in your area, there are other ways to heal up and strengthen again.
So how do I get my pre-baby body back?
Like I said before, I've been there. As a new mum, your body confidence is shot, you don't fit into any of your old clothes, and how the heck does Princess Catherine walk out of the maternity ward mere hours after giving birth and look like she stepped off the front page of Cosmo????
As a mum, and a trainer of new mums with many years experience in postnatal recovery, my advice? Throw out your scales and enjoy your baby. Everybody is different, some bounce straight back after birth, others lose all the weight while breastfeeding, some don't lose any, and some poor sods (like me) gain weight when breastfeeding!
What is most important after giving birth is:
Pregnancy and giving birth (regardless of delivery method) is a big deal. And no person should be back into their regular fitness routine straight after delivery (or their 6-week check-up for that matter). Embrace your flabby bits and stretch marks for now - you grew a human and that makes you awesome! Take it slow and easy - your body needs proper rehabilitation and your core and pelvic floor will need some good recovery exercises to strengthen up and provide a good foundation for you to build on. Make sure you get in touch with a good pelvic floor physio or a Personal Trainer who specialises in Postnatal recovery to get you back on track. Below are some services offered by Chess PT to help new mums on the path to recovery!
Enjoy your babies!