Exercising after having a baby can do wonders for mothers’ physical and mental well-being. It can help decrease depression, improve energy and strength and give you a healthy outlet and time on your own, says Marci Goolsby, MD, a primary sports medicine physician in the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at HSS.
What’s more, women who are used to performing at a high level are often able to return to that level after giving birth. “Women don’t have to back down from their athletic careers when having children,” says Dr. Goolsby. “The list is long of women who have accomplished their goal of returning to high-level competition after having children.” Several recent high-profile athletes have done so.
If you’re expecting, there may be some changes you need to make to your exercise routine before, during and after your pregnancy, says Dr. Goolsby. “Many changes happen to the body during this time. There are pelvic changes, your center of gravity changes and ligaments relax during pregnancy.”
One common mistake she sees many women make is not respecting and accommodating the changes their body undergoes, often continuing to work out in the same way or at the same intensity. “Getting back into exercise after having a baby is very individualized — I cannot stress this enough,” says Dr. Goolsby. “Women have different degrees of pain, injury, sleep deprivation, depression and motivation. I try to never judge my patients for their desire — or lack thereof — to get back to their regular exercise routine. I see it as my job to get them back to where they want to be in the safest manner possible.”
Keep in mind the following tips Dr. Goolsby recommends for getting back into exercise after giving birth: