6 Things No One Tells New Mamas About Postnatal Exercise

Postnatal exercises and fitness advice from Tone It Up's Katrina Scott.

Hey gorgeous! How are you feeling? I want you to know you’re doing an amazing job every single day. 💕 Over the weekend, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Happy Mom Conference. I met so many beautiful moms and I shared my thoughts on postpartum body image and self-love. Instead of focusing on “getting our bodies back,” what if we treated ourselves with more love, kindness, and compassion? If anyone deserves that, it’s YOU supermama!

Wherever you are on your motherhood journey, I want to share a few of my favorite tips on postpartum exercise and giving your body what it needs in this new, incredible chapter as a mom. I know that none of this is easy — from understanding your body’s changes, to knowing what’s safe, to actually making time for exercise. Just remember that you’re doing the best you can and it’s enough. You are not alone and you are stronger, more beautiful, and more fearless than you know. Check in with me on Insta so we can continue to support each other. 

Love you mama!!!   

xxo,

Kat

6 Postnatal Workout Tips for New Mamas

Embrace the change

After having Bella, I remember looking five months pregnant for weeks, even months, after giving birth. I even wore a maternity dress to Coachella because none of my jean shorts fit. And guess what — that’s totally normal! There is so much pressure to “snap back” postpartum and return to your pre-pregnancy body. And yet, research now shows it takes a full year to fully recover from all the remarkable changes your body goes through during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It’s time to acknowledge that healing takes time. It’s OK to look and feel different than before your little miracle arrived. You’re not the same girl you were pre-baby, nor should you be! This is the new you, so embrace the changes and be proud of where you are at this moment!

Know that everything counts

Making time for exercise isn’t easy. And for new mamas, it’s even more challenging. Keep your fitness goals small, manageable, and realistic for YOU. (Your doc can help you decide what’s appropriate and when.) For me, that started with getting outside for a 15-minute walk a few times a week. As I’ve adjusted to the craziness of motherhood, my new goal is three Studio Tone It Up classes per week. Be sure to check out the new Postnatal On Demand channel ~ we’ll continue adding new workouts there soon. The Postnatal Naptime Workout is a lifesaver ~ I made it just for busy mamas like you!!

Healthy smoothie for new moms with Tone It Up Protein

Stay nourished

Now isn’t the time to cut calories or go on a restrictive eating plan. For a healthy mama AND baby, concentrate on nourishing foods that are rich in calcium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, and folate. While I was breastfeeding, I kept my calorie intake relatively high to help keep up my milk supply. These Pumpkin Oat Muffins are so perfect for a quick, nutritious bite when you have no time or free hands to cook! I also loved this smoothie to keep my calories up while breastfeeding.

Prioritize the pelvic floor

The pelvic floor goes through so much during pregnancy and delivery. It relaxes and stretches, and needs some major TLC postpartum to restrengthen and support you before you jump back into your old routine. The best place to start: kegels.

Check with your doc — you can usually do ‘em immediately following your birth, before you’re officially cleared to exercise. Aim for three times a day (it can help to set a schedule, like doing them at mealtimes). To start: Squeeze and lift for one second, then release for 1 second. Note: Lying down is easiest because you’re not working against gravity. You can later progress to an exercise ball or standing, and increase how long you hold.  

Assess your core

Diastasis recti, or the separation of the right and left abdominals, affects anywhere from one- to two-thirds of women post-pregnancy. The good news: it’s possible to close the gap and restore your core strength and function. Keep in mind, it’s not with the ab exercises you might think! As a general rule, skip any moves that strain your midline or cause your belly to bulge forward, like sit-ups and planks.

A few ab moves that are amazing, with or without ab separation: pelvic tilts, heel marches, bridges, and modified side planks. No matter what, core engagement is key — always keep the belly pulled in. Keep an eye out for more postnatal routines just for you — coming soon to your Tone It Up app!

Listen to your bod

I say this all the time, because it’s so important postpartum, or wherever you are in your fitness journey. If a move feels off, skip it. If running feels too high impact, ease up. Walk on an incline or find a low-impact cardio alternative you love. Fitness isn’t one size fits all and no one will know exactly what you’re feelin’ except for YOU! When we’re “cleared to exercise” at 6 or 8 weeks, that rarely means you’re cleared to jump in exactly where you left off. Have patience, don’t forget to breeeaaathe, and always show that gorgeous body love!

You got this mama! xx 💗

Remember you can always find postnatal workouts On Demand in your Studio Tone It Up app!

COMMENTS 19

  1. Katrina – Thank you so much for this post! Your openness, positivity and support mean the world to so many mamas struggling to get back into their fitness. This guidance really sets TIU apart from other fitness communities. Can’t wait to do the naptime routine.
    XO, Grace

    1. Hey Grace! I’m so happy we all have each other in this community and we can be on this journey together. Love you mama 🤗

  2. Yes!!! My first son is two and a half, and I never got my pre-baby body back before getting pregnant with my second mainly because of unrealistic expectations, first my body was different and second I no longer had the same amount of time to commit. My second son is now 3 months old and I am being much more realistic. I had a c-section with him, so my body is way more different then even after having my first son, so I’m needing to take it much slower. I shoot for 3 days a week of exercise in addition to just being active with my boys and know that in time I will see improvements in my new mom bod. Thank you, thank you for being so honest with your journey!! 💗💗

    1. Hey Meridith! Congrats mama 💛 You have such an amazing attitude and your new body is gorgeous, strong, and powerful! So honored to be on this journey with you! xx

  3. Thank you for these tips. I’m 27 weeks pregnant. I haven’t been the most active because of pain but I look forward to get back into a routine when baby boy arrives and I’m cleared to workout. I love all your pregnant posts and positive self talk ❤️

  4. Thank you for the app update – separating the prenatal and postnatal routines is helpful! I can easily find my pregnancy workout for the day now without having to sort through postnatal routines. This is baby #2 on the way and I can tell you, things are really different when it comes to fitness in the pre and post stages!

  5. When I started working out again post-baby I worried that 20-30 min a day workouts weren’t going to be enough to get me back into “pre-pregnancy shape.” Now, 7 months postpartum, I have realized that I am so PROUD to get in my 20 min #naptimehustles 4-5 times a week. Working out doesn’t look the same as it did before baby, and neither does my body – but I am finding so much STRENGTH and ENERGY through my Studio Tone It Up workouts and my body is responding in a slow, gradual, consistent way!

  6. Great article!! Thanks for sharing this info Kat. Pelvic health physical therapists can also be an awesome medical provider to see for these issues. Often times women feel their docs tell them to return to exercise at 6 weeks without much guidance beyond that. A pelvic PT can help bridge that gap for some women who need some guidance.

  7. I loved this article up until the pelvic floor section. Kegels should never be done unless you’ve been instructed by a physiotherapist to do so and they’ve shown you exactly how to do it. It will just cause more damage especially to the postpartum pelvic floor. Sometimes the lack of education behind the information that comes out through tone it up is shocking. Most mainstream doctors and gynecologists do not know how to asses or teach kegels as they do not have the proper training in that specific area. If you want to work on your pelvic floor, the bloom method is a great place to start as well as hannah bowers core guide or ask your doctor to refer you to a physiotherapist. Please stop spreading false knowledge to women who rely on you for accuracy.

  8. Thank you for this post!!! Today I needed it bad!!! I was doing the awesome yoga studio class when my 8 week old baby girl Skyler started to loose it! Thank goodness the class ended with abs and seat work. Skyler got to enjoy the ride of crunches sleeping on my stomach. Trying to get your pre-pregnancy busy back means doing whatever you have to do to get in just a little workout!

  9. Kat, I just had a 8 lb 6 oz baby girl five weeks ago and my doctor cleared me for exercise without checking me for diastasis recti. When I checked myself I was shocked! I could have accidentally made it worse! I can’t even tell you how relieved I was to go back to the TIU app and find all of the approved postnatal exercises. It actually brought a tear to my eye because everything is so overwhelming as a new mom and it’s nice to just be able to follow you and know I’m doing something good for my body. You were there before pregnancy, during, and now after! I couldn’t get through it without you. Thank you so much! 💗💗💗

    1. Omg congrats mama!! 🤗 That truly means so much to me. I feel so grateful to be on this new journey with you & all the TIU mamas by my side. 💗

  10. I needed to read this post more than I thought I did. I’m 6 weeks out, which feels like forever and no time at all, and definitely struggling with seeing what my old routine was, what all my friends are doing, and what I’m not doing regarding workouts. At the same time, I’ve got a whole new life and this was a good reminder that her life and mine as a mom is so much more important than a number on a scale. I’m going to focus on her development as I find time to be healthy and positive. Thanks Katrina for the reminder and inspiration!

    1. That’s such an amazing attitude Ali! Remember there’s no pressure to get back to your old routine or bounce back. Your whole life has changed and that’s a remarkable thing! You’ll find what works for you and your family now. Love you mama 💗

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