How long will it really take my postpartum body to fully recover?
Part of being a personal trainer is setting realistic expectations for my client’s goals. For my prenatal clients, I know your training goals: feeling good during pregnancy, a successful birth and preparing for motherhood. I build your movement program based on these goals. For my postpartum clients, I know you want to feel like yourself again…as soon as possible! Working with 100s of women during their postpartum journey, it can be tough to put aside the societal pressures of bouncing back. BUT, your body just went through a MAJOR event. When you are ready for a movement program, it will first focus more on connecting back to your body rather than weight loss and toning. It will be a journey to your postpartum goals, one that starts with healing.. So let’s set realistic expectations for what your next year of movement might look like and what your body might feel like.
If you just had a baby, or even if you are currently pregnant, I am sure you have thought about how long it will take you to feel like yourself again postpartum. We are going to take a big picture approach to answer this question. First of all, the answer will differ from person to person. Every person has a different journey with different genetics, a different routine, different complications and so on. But let’s look at postpartum in the same scope as pregnancy trimesters. Let’s consider postpartum as 4th, 5th and 6th trimester.
In trimester 4, you are newly postpartum. Whether you had a natural birth or c-section, recovery is no joke. This is not a time to stress your mind and/or body with pressures of “bouncing back.” Take this time to work on deep breathing as well as performing your everyday tasks with good posture. You might feel like you no longer have core muscles or it might be hard to mentally connect to your core muscles. This is normal and you will regain that connection.
Once your doctor clears you for exercise, start slowly. You won’t be jumping right back into your pre-baby routine. Keep working on establishing a connection between your mind and your core muscles.
In trimester 5, let’s say you are 3-6 months postpartum. At this point, if you still feel no connection to your core, we recommend working with a postpartum fitness specialist and/or a pelvic floor physiotherapist. If you are feeling ready to ramp up your workouts, go for it! Keep in mind, your pelvic floor might not be ready for certain activities like running and jumping. Refrain from any exercise that brings discomfort or incontinence and work on strengthening your pelvic floor.
In trimester 6, let’s say you are 6-12 months postpartum. If you have worked on your deep breathing, connecting to your core muscles, and strengthening your pelvic floor, this is the trimester where you might reach “fully recovered.” But “fully recovered” is not the same as your pre-baby self. Your body did the most incredible thing: birthed a baby! Your baby grew inside of you for about 10 months. It will take at least that long to fully recover and feel connected to your brand new body.
So let’s ditch all this “bounce back” nonsense. You created life and have a beautiful little human to show for it. Your body will recover, it just takes time! Be gentle with yourself mentally and physically. Focus on reconnecting to your body and strengthening your core and pelvic floor. Once you regain the connection to your core and pelvic floor muscles, establish a movement plan and eat healthy. Stay consistent with these fundamentals through trimesters 4, 5, & 6, and you will reach your postpartum goals.