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Published on May 17, 2017

jessica and elle carmody

New Moms Need Baby Steps, Too: Getting Back in Shape after Baby

From the “We’re expecting!” confirmation to the blessings of the birth itself, moms are busy planning and preparing for life as a parent.

Once baby arrives, it can be easy to just focus on baby and let go of fitness goals.

Sioux Falls mom Jessica Carmody decided not long after her daughter Elle was born, she was ready to get moving.

“I’ve always been active and wanted to get my energy level back up and just move,” said Carmody, 30, who works in health care marketing. “All moms returning to exercise should drink plenty of water. It is especially important for breastfeeding moms as it helps with milk production.

Carmody knew she needed 30-60 minutes of daily exercise, but didn’t want to be in the gym so much.

“We got out for family walks, and I would play Pilates DVDs at home or just try and squeeze exercise in here and there. Every bit helps,” she said. “For me, it was all about getting outside and moving, and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies.”

Moving Brings Benefits

Annie Siewert, MD, Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology physician said exercise will benefit most moms.

“About a week after birth, most women who have had uncomplicated deliveries can resume activity, but it’s best to talk to your doctor if you had a complicated birth or C-section,” she said. “Activity has so many great benefits for a new mom, and it can help increase overall energy levels by releasing hormones that make us feel good.”

Siewert said exercise also brings the added benefit of helping rid extra weight from pregnancy.

“We know that exercise can really decrease postpartum depression,” she said. “I recommend they start small and go; return to your pregnancy exercise routine, then slowly ramp up to pre-pregnancy levels.”

Postpartum nutrition helps you stay active. Nursing moms can burn an additional 500 calories a day breastfeeding so you need adequate calories from a healthy mix of protein and carbs.

Snack Smart and Stay Hydrated

Carmody said she applied the “80/20” rule.

“I always have healthy snacks on hand like cut up fruit and nuts, because you get hungry and something nutritious can reduce temptation,” she said. “I aim to eat 80 percent healthy, but still let myself enjoy ice cream with Elle.”

Good nutrition, hydration along with physical activity can actually help you get more rest, a valuable commodity for new moms, said Siewert.

“Sleep can be elusive but it will help that fitness routine come back faster. Build a routine around your rest, because that is the heart of your energy,” she said. “Your body is changing, so go easy on your goals and don’t give up.”

Walking or jogging outdoors with your new baby are great starting points, and eventually add weight resistance exercises, said Siewert, who also reminds moms to work pelvic floor muscles daily with Kegel exercises.

Carmody is expecting her second child, and said she enjoyed a gradual return to a lifestyle that included exercise.

“Exercise is important to me,” she said. “I need it – and I think with baby steps, all moms can get moving and feel better.”

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