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New mothers

Exercise and weight loss for new mothers

Eager to fit back into their pre-pregnancy jeans, some new moms start fitness regimens that are too intense, too soon. However, this isn’t the best approach when it comes to safety or sustainable weight loss.

The challenges of post-pregnancy fitness

“Even when the baby is out, you still have a lot of the same physical issues you had during pregnancy in terms of the hormones that are in your body and your abdominals are all stretched out,” says Kathleen Donahoe, a perinatal fitness expert.

New moms also have some mental and emotional challenges to content with, such as sleeplessness and the potential for postpartum depression.

“New moms are dealing with a lot,” says Donahoe.

The mental benefits of exercise for new moms

The mental benefits of exercise are significant.

“We know exercise helps everyone mentally, but with new moms in particular, those endorphins are so helpful,” she explains. “New moms are dealing with sleeplessness and perhaps feeling isolated in the house. Getting out and exercising is really helpful for that.”

The physical benefits of fitness for new moms

Exercise can help new moms restore abdominal and pelvic floor strength, and reduce back pain.

“After someone has a baby, it’s really helpful to start with some Pilates work,” recommends Donahoe. “Then you want to move into cardio and strength training.”

Overcoming the challenges of new motherhood

“For a new mom, it is really hard to get out of the house – we all know that,” she says. “It’s also hard to know if you’re getting a type of exercise that is safe for you.”

Researchers have been studying the benefits of new moms exercising with their babies.

“The interesting thing is a mom who exercises with her new baby is more likely to lose the weight and keep it off,” says Donahoe.

Exercising with other moms as part of a class has a psychological benefit as well.

“Being in a community and hearing what other moms are dealing with is really helpful,” she says.

3 tips to safely return to exercise

Here are some tips for safely returning to a fitness routine post-pregnancy:

  • First and foremost, get your doctor’s consent before beginning any exercise program.
  • Start slowly. If you do too much too soon after your pregnancy, you put yourself at risk for injury.
  • Give your abdominals attention first. These muscles are likely stretched out from pregnancy, so Pilates-style exercises can help you regain core strength for future cardio and strength training sessions.

“If you aren’t able to find a mom-and-baby fitness class in your area, get some friends together who have babies,” says Donahoe. “Get outside, get exercising together. It’s really helpful physically and mentally for you and your friends, too.”

Piedmont offers the widest variety of pregnancy and postnatal classes in metro Atlanta. Click here for Maternity Services Class details or click below to see a list of fitness classes available at Piedmont Fitness Centers.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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