As if the newness and pressure of becoming a parent isn’t enough, many new mothers find themselves contending with myths and misinformation around the postpartum experience – and that can leave you feeling inadequate.
A reality check will help you focus on what’s ACTUALLY important. So let’s take a run through some postpartum health and fitness myths that you should ignore (or at least examine a little more closely).
Myth #1. Breastfeeding is all you have to do to lose weight
Breastfeeding has many benefits for mother and baby, and it sure burns up energy, but it isn’t a magic bullet for losing weight. One study found that women who breastfeed on average lose just half a kilogram (3lbs) more than women who don’t breastfeed at all in the 12 months after giving birth.
If you believe that breastfeeding will be all it takes to shift fat gained during pregnancy, you’re more likely to get discouraged or feel down when that doesn’t happen for you. Always remember that post-pregnancy weight loss should be a slow and steady process. Now is the time to nourish your body and help it to heal (not the time for a restrictive diet and intense exercise).
Oh, and FYI, if you’re not breastfeeding, that’s totally OK, too!
Myth #2. If you were active during pregnancy, you can start working out right away
Regardless of how active and strong you were able to stay during pregnancy, your body needs time to recover from giving birth. And if your delivery involved complications or a C-section, your recovery time may be longer than average.
Even with an expert-designed program like FIT Post-Pregnancy, you should not begin exercising until you have clearance from your doctor. Be kind to yourself and remember that health and fitness is a lifelong journey. With patience, you will get there.
Getting back into exercise will take time and patience – no matter how fit you were before or during your pregnancy.
Myth #3. Between the baby and trying to get enough sleep, you won’t have time to exercise, so you shouldn’t bother
Yes, sleep is important, as is self-care. But moving your body – gently and within your limits – can actually help you to sleep better and manage the anxieties of being a new parent.
FIT Post-Pregnancy workouts are designed with new mothers in mind – just 20 minutes of gentle exercise in Stage 1, prioritising pelvic floor and core rebuilding, which are both critical for your postpartum recovery.
If a 20-minute workout is unrealistic for you, remember exercise doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You can break the workouts into smaller chunks if you need. Any small bit of movement counts.
Myth #4. Diastasis recti always goes away on its own
Diastasis recti (ab separation) usually starts to heal by itself in the first two months after childbirth – but it may not, so it’s important to be proactive.
Chat to your doctor about ab separation during your postpartum check-up and get them to assess where you are at. FIT Post-Pregnancy begins with a focus on deep core work to repair and strengthen this part of your body, then slowly and safely steps up your abdominal exercises as the program progresses.
Whatever you may have heard about what happens when you’re postpartum, remember your doctor should always be your first port of call.
ALWAYS consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, as there are some situations where exercise may not be advised. This information should be used as a guide only and should not replace the advice of your medical practitioner.
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