(Q)How soon can I start exercising again?
(A) Most experts say that if you had a normal vaginal delivery with no complications, you can slowly begin exercising after two weeks. But progress gradually: Start back at about 50 percent of where you left off during pregnancy; then increase your workouts in small increments. If either your pregnancy or delivery was complicated, ask your doctor when you can begin.
(Q) I’m just so tired all the time! How can I get motivated to work out again?
(A) Enlist a friend. Studies have found that exercising with a buddy is a great way to stay motivated: You’re less apt to blow it off when someone is depending on you. Meet another new mom for power walks (you can both bring your babies in strollers) or meet a friend for a class at the gym.
(Q) How can I find time to exercise?
(A) Learn how to squeeze exercise in whenever you can. Got 20 minutes? Get outdoors and take a walk with your baby. Got 15 minutes? Pop in an exercise video while the baby naps or plays nearby, suggests McCrory. Be ready to cut yourself some slack, too, especially right after your baby is born. There will be days when you can’t work out; just do your best.
(Q) Why do some women gain weight after having a baby?
(A) “Lifestyle factors are probably partly to blame, given what havoc new motherhood can wreak on your eating and exercise habits,” says Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif. A harried new mom may gobble any fattening food she can find. And it’s easy to forgo a walk or workout after a sleepless night. If this increase in eating and decrease in exercise persists for months, the result is added pounds.
(Q) What about my sex life?
(A) Some women find caring for an infant so exhausting and stressful that sex is the last thing they want to think about. The type of delivery you had also may affect how fast feelings of desire return. According to a Harvard Medical School study of 615 women, those who had medical interventions (the use of vacuum extraction or forceps) during delivery were 270 percent more likely than others to experience painful sex at three months postpartum.
Others may find that their libido quickly returns and that they are ready to resume sex as soon as they get their doctor’s OK (usually four to six weeks after delivery). If you are healed physically but you still feel sapped of desire and it’s bothering you or your partner, you may want to check with your doctor.