Q: How soon should I wait before training again after having a baby?
A: As long as your body and baby need. (This is not a cop-out answer; keep reading!)
There are many cultures around the world that respect the period known as LYING IN. This is the rest period immediately after birth when the mom is expected to do nothing but rest, recover, and bond with her new baby.
Unfortunately, here in America, this practice and associated postpartum traditions have been forgotten and the societal expectations placed upon women are unrealistic, unfair, and do not set women up for thriving health later in life. As stated in Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America, “The era of social childbirth, with its volunteer woman-to-woman help, passed with the disappearance of the American Frontier.”
You guessed it. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. There’s nothing really set in place here in the United States except the golden six week check up with a woman’s ObGyn or Midwife.
So, what do we do?
When working with clients directly, we advise all of our families to take two weeks as a LYING IN period. This means resting, recovering, and bonding for the whole family. And yes, this does take preparation and outside help. This also means no outside visitors, not going to the gym, no trips to CVS/Walgreens, etc. This means cuddling, bonding, smelling and nursing baby as much and as often as you and baby need. Heck, some of our mamas do not even shower for the first week.
Once the two weeks is up (some of our families do closer to 3-4 weeks), we encourage mama to take short (20-30 minute) walks each day while wearing her baby. Yes, you heard me: WEARING BABY. This does not mean training or a CrossFit class; this means nice slow walks. This baby is brand new and needs his/her mama, and mama can benefit from both the added weight and the bonding with baby. They call it the fourth trimester for a reason: basically, the baby moved from inside you to outside you and still, without a doubt, needs you for survival.
If, during or after the walks, there is increased vaginal bleeding or any urinary incontinence, then the instructions for the next day or two would be to CHILL until bleeding has subsided. If vaginal bleeding persists, then mama needs to give her healthcare provider a phone call to check in.
Only after two weeks of walking while wearing baby, with no increased vaginal bleeding or urinary incontinence, do we progress. This is around the 4-5 weeks postpartum mark. During this time, we focus on posture, breathing exercises, and the functional progression. Mama has got to connect with all parts of her body again. We continue this work for at least 2-3 weeks and sometimes longer. It just depends.
Make note that we are around 4-5 weeks postpartum with only posture, breathing, and a few functional progression exercises. There is no mention of going back to intense training or a CrossFit class or a long run or hot yoga.
The Queen In Training eBook (Part 1 and Part 2) and The BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series focus on breathing, posture, and the functional progression for the first two weeks and then take you a bit further with intentional movement. So, if you are around 4-5 weeks postpartum with no more vaginal bleeding and everything is healing nicely, then this would be a good time for you to introduce intentional movement to your body again via The BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series (find an Affiliate near you), or if you are remote, the Queen In Training eBook.
The BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series will take you to 8-10 weeks postpartum while the Queen In Training eBooks will take you to 10-12 weeks postpartum. We recommend staying connected with your coach and/or setting up consultations with our team during this period. We also recommend receiving continuous chiropractic care through the first 8-12 weeks postpartum and providing your body with nutrient dense foods. Only after 12 weeks (3 months) do we recommend going back to your CrossFit class or your regular yoga routine or your long distance runs.
Side note: if there is something more, such as a symphysis pubis dysfunction or a prolapse going on, then this would not be the course of action for you. If you had a heavily medicated or cesarean birth, then this may not be the course of action for you either; it just depends.
This is just a glimpse of how we help mamas slow down and get intentional during the immediate postpartum period. The postpartum period is a beautiful time to re-calibrate and set a solid foundation of sustainable, efficient movement for the rest of your life. Remember to take care of yourself, slow down and enjoy the journey, and be kind to yourself.