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Best Exercises to Lose Weight After Pregnancy

Stephanie has had 3 pregnancies (including twins). She enjoys working out to feel healthy and ready to take on the challenges of motherhood

Get Your Body Back After Having a Baby: Tips to Lose Weight After Pregnancy

For many new mothers, the question of when will I get my body back after having a baby often immediately follows, "when will the baby sleep through the night?"

Fortunately, if you are in good health and your doctor gives you the green light, you can usually begin light exercise within 3-4 weeks after delivery. Depending on how much weight you gained during pregnancy, most people can expect to lose the weight within 6-12 months after giving birth.

Be sure to check with your physician before beginning an exercise routine postpartum!

As the mom of four children, including a set of twins, my weight loss results varied each time. Although I am a runner, I switched to walking and DVD workouts for the first several months. I found that having a reliable all-terrain stroller and/or a quality baby front pack or backpack can make a big difference.

Be patient, eat a healthful diet, drink plenty of water and make a goal of exercising 2-3 times a week. Of course, there is more to exercise than just the goal of losing weight after pregnancy. Just 15-20 minutes of walking each day can improve your mood, help you sleep better (when you do get a chance to sleep) and increase circulation, which can boost your overall recovery time.

Your baby will probably enjoy the fresh air, which may help him sleep. Ask your pediatrician if it is safe for the baby to be outside and if they are the appropriate age and size to ride in a stroller or front pack.

It's easy to want to lose weight after pregnancy right away. But your primary goals should be ensuring your baby is healthy, nurturing your relationship with your partner and other children (if any) and making sure you are eating and sleeping well.

Take your baby along for a walk so you get exercise and he or she gets fresh air

Take your baby along for a walk so you get exercise and he or she gets fresh air

Walking is one of the Best Workout Routines to Lose Weight after Pregnancy

My absolute favorite workout routine for post-pregnancy is the simplest one: walking.

After each of my kids were born, I began a walking workout within 6 weeks after checking with both my own doctor and the pediatrician to ensure it was safe to do so.

One of the best things about walking is that you don't need any exercise equipment. You can do it any time of the day, without worrying about making it to a class on time or getting child care.

Most babies of any age can safely ride in a front pack. Just be sure that the straps and openings are properly adjusted. You probably own a stroller, too. Using an age appropriate version (rear facing or front facing), your baby will probably enjoy getting out for fresh air while you go for a walk.

With my second son, I had the benefit of using a hand-me-down treadmill. I would strap Joe into the front pack and walk briskly for 45 minutes to an hour while I watched television. It never failed - Joe fell asleep each and every time!

After the twins were born, my work colleagues chipped in to give us a gift certificate that we used to buy a double jogger stroller. Our house was 1 mile up the back side of a relatively steep hill. All spring, I walked those babies down and then back up the hill!

If you are a novice exerciser (or even an experienced one), walking is a super exercise that is easy to do and convenient. Go as fast or slowly as you wish. The most important thing is that you are out there. You will lose weight after pregnancy - trust me. Just make sure you don't try to take it all off too fast. Consult a doctor before starting any postpartum exercise program.

Post-Pregnancy Exercises

Consider a Stroller Strides or Mommy and Me Class

While it can be difficult to get to an exercise class the first few months after a baby is born, the beauty of a Stroller Strides class, or similar a Mommy and Me exercise group is that all the other participants are new moms that will probably have empathy for what you are going through.

Like you, they are trying to lose weight, adjust to motherhood and still have time to connect with friends. These classes are a great way to meet other moms! Moreover, if your friend is expecting you at Stroller Strides or Mommy and Me Yoga, you may be less likely to cancel or change your plans. Nothing like a group to keep you accountable!

My only word of caution is to take the classes seriously and work hard. I have been to a number of group exercise classes where many of the participants simply wish to socialize. If you agree to meet for 10-15 minutes afterward for coffee to catch-up, you can focus on your workout without feeling anti-social or rude.

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Stroller Strides Exercises to Lose Weight After Pregnancy

Exercise Videos When Baby is Sleeping

When I was in college, Kathy Smith exercise videos were all the rage. I'd get together with my friends 2-3 times a week to work out (leg warmers optional).

Since my oldest son is now 14, I have to admit that I still used the same exercise videos after he was born! Today's offerings are more modern and incorporate yoga, Pilates, boxing or ballet moves. There is a wide range of workout videos from which to choose, based on your fitness level and interests.

Since my twins were born 9 years ago, there are many more at home workout alternatives, including Wii fitness. Although we don't own a Wii console, my boys love playing Xbox Kinnect, which is similar. If I wasn't so busy working, grocery shopping, doing laundry and preparing dinner, I would love to play these interactive games for exercise.

In actuality, trying to find time to exercise with older children can be even more than a challenge than when they were babies. Today, no one takes naps, everyone has homework, and each of my kids has extra-curricular activities, games and meets to attend.

During the first 18-24 months after your baby is born, you can take advantage of naptimes. Honestly, you will probably want to sleep when they are sleeping during the first 6 months. Once the baby starts sleeping through the night, you will find that you have more energy throughout the day to address your own needs. In turn, the entire family will benefit!

I never went anywhere without my double stroller when the twins were young: Walking helped me lose weight after pregnancy

I never went anywhere without my double stroller when the twins were young: Walking helped me lose weight after pregnancy

Try a Mommy and Me Exercise Class

Easing Back into Exercise after Pregnancy: Don't Try to Lose Weight Too Fast

No matter your age and fitness level when you got pregnant, your body will be different after giving birth. I've experienced some of these issues after each delivery:

  • Ligaments typically loosen during pregnancy; postpartum, you could be more prone to injuries such as a sprained ankle
  • Incontinence may occur during strenuous exercise until the pelvic floor has regained strength (do your Kegel exercises!)
  • Additional weight may make you feel sluggish and/or weak
  • Breastfeeding mothers could experience pain due to engorgement or leaking
  • As hormone levels return to normal, mood swings coupled with lack of sleep may make you irritable and tired
  • Ill-fitting exercise clothes could cause chafing

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 21, 2012:

I know what you mean! The first few months after child birth, I took every "extra" minute to either sleep, do laundry or prepare a healthy meal. Hang in there!! Best, Steph

meditatio from North Vancouver on May 20, 2012:

I have to say, when she hits the pillow, either I hit it too or take the opportunity to cook something healthy for a change ! :D

I am not being lucky on the husband part, he works pretty late and sleeps in the morning. His one day off, I don't dare drop the kid in his arms and just say "alright, mommy time NOW !"

Maybe I should... :p

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 20, 2012:

That's very cute, meditatio! Yet, I can remember the frustration. My kids are older (so the DVDs I enjoyed were also older when I was pregnant/post-pregnancy) - I loved getting back to Kathi Smith when my middle son either napped, or when my husband was home in the evening or weekends. Cheers, Steph

meditatio from North Vancouver on May 20, 2012:

My little one enjoys yoga for herself (Itsy Bitsy Yoga, you know) but does not let me do much of it for myself. I am ashamed to admit it, but the only week I could have yoga every day (twice a day) was a week during which she was sick.... I really can't wait to have her old enough to have yoga with her. I might even get to resume the Jillian Michael workouts I was enjoying pre-pregnancy :)

Thanks for this article, it was interesting !

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 19, 2012:

Thanks Maddie - and I totally agree. Usually the biggest hurdle is just getting out the door. With temps that high, you would have to walk early in the morning which is much easier said than done! Congratulations on your second baby! Best to you, Steph

Maddie on May 18, 2012:

Love this article, Stephanie. However, going for a walk "anytime" isn't as easy at it seems. I've found that my biggest issue with starting to exercise again is the weather. Living in Arizona where temperatures are peaking at 104 in May makes this difficult. My first baby was born in the fall so it was starting to cool off. But, now with my 1 month old I'm having a hard time getting back into the swing of things! I guess what I'm saying is, don't take for granted your ability to go for a walk! The videos are awesome! Thanks for the motivation!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 18, 2012:

LOL - that is funny! Well, I have 4 kids and 3 of them are boys, so I must have boys on the brain. LOL!! :-)

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on May 18, 2012:

Thank you ::: blushes :::

Wow--you must be psychic--I never said "grandson," I said grandKIDS... but, indeed, one of my 2 grandSONs is the 18-year-old! (The other daughter has 2 girls.. ) ;-) A wonderful weekend to you and yours as well!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 18, 2012:

LOL Dzy! Well, you look amazing!! Had no idea you have an 18-year old grandson!! Wow. :) Happy weekend, Steph

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on May 18, 2012:

LOL--I forgot to mention--that was a very long time ago--my youngest is now 41, and I have 4 grandkids...the eldest is 18; the youngest is 4! ;-)

My tree-climbing has been curtailed due to a bum knee. These days, my mobility is not what it was back then.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 18, 2012:

Cool twoseven! I'm a runner too, but I didn't run for about 2-3 months post-partum. Really had to ease my way back into it.

Like you, combining walking or running with breastfeeding, I was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly. Running is certainly efficient too, as you note. Cheers, Steph

twoseven from Madison, Wisconsin on May 18, 2012:

Great article! I also walked a ton - it was just part of our daily routine (luckily we had good weather!) and it was amazing how that, combined with breastfeeding, made a ton of weight drop off in the first few months. I eased back into running very slowly, and that was great. My first jog was literally one block. Then I went a little farther each time, and by the time my son was 8 months, I ran a half-marathon. I think it's really empowering and motivating to pick a goal, like a half-marathon, to work towards sometime before your kid turns one. I also like running as a work out because you can just leave your house for 25 min and come back and have had a great work out - no time in transit to the gym necessary. Thanks for the great article!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 18, 2012:

Thanks Kelley - it was a great question to ask! Best, Steph

kelleyward on May 18, 2012:

Steph this is a great article for moms! I also ran a lot with my double stroller to help lose that postpartum weight. Well written and very thorough article. Shared! Take care, Kelley

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 18, 2012:

Hi teaches - I think you are right. A lot of moms have unrealistic expectations about weight loss after delivery. Some are fortunate enough to leave most of the weight in the delivery room. However, many new moms are still 20+ pounds over their pre-pregnancy weight when they go home. Making a plan for weight loss, staying positive and eating a healthy diet can go a long way toward helping a new mom feel more like herself. Cheers, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 18, 2012:

Hi Dzy, Definitely! You know, I almost included a photo of me holding the twins at the fair. Just getting on with life, which can be much more active than before having a baby, and watching your diet can help drop pounds. If you have a stroller and a pair of comfortable shoes to walk in, get out there and get some fresh air! Best, Steph

Dianna Mendez on May 18, 2012:

I could have used this information after I gave birth to my child. Great hub article and well written. I think some moms are so disappointed after giving birth when they see the extra pounds that are still there. This will encourage them and help them to get back in shape quicly. Voted up.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on May 17, 2012:

I was one of the lucky ones, I guess--I didn't gain much excess during either of my pregnancies, and dropped 95% of the weight on the delivery table.

However, with the second one, I never did recover the muscle tone in the lower abs. But, I've always been very active, a tomboy, and I hate specific exercises with a purple passion. For me, it has to be something I think is fun, and oh--incidentally, it just happens to be exercise.

My budget did not allow for gyms, classes or any of that, so my "exercise routine" consisted of getting on with my life, caring for a newborn, trips to the laundromat, etc. (with the first), and chasing a toddler around while caring for a newborn with the second.

You've got some great ideas here for those who need to drop extra pounds, and are able to afford the little extras.

Voted up!

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