If you’ve ever read a pre-natal book, you already know that that a hormone called relaxin is in the body during pregnancy. There are all kinds of speciality fitness classes available to adapt for the needs of the pregnant women in light of this hormone.
Relaxin is responsible for the body’s ability to open the bones in order to give birth, and it softens the ligaments and tendons accordingly.
But, here’s something you may NOT know!
The piece of the narrative that says “it’s in your body for up to five months after” and “it’s in your body for up to four months after cessation of breastfeeding” isn’t generally told to women.
Relaxin is in your body after birth.
Relaxin is in your body while you are breastfeeding.
Relaxin is in your body after breastfeeding.
So from an exercise standpoint, be aware that:
- Any injuries or sore spots you had at joints prior to pregnancy may feel GREAT while you are breastfeeding! And then they may feel worse after you do things that you were previously incapable of doing.
- post pregnancy/while breastfeeding may not be the time to take up Yoga, especially hot yoga. Yoga is billed as a gentle activity good for every body, but unless your instructor is specifically pre and post natal trained, I would not begin a yoga practise within the window cited above.
- post-pregnancy usually requires a protocol that’s relatively similar to pregnancy. So plan to do whatever you did while pregnant, and nothing more! Don’t run a marathon (I did and it was a mistake).
Every woman typically wants to be a superhero: “I just had a baby and life is normal. No big deal”.
Every woman typically also wants to “lose the baby weight”. Try to avoid the pressures of exercising your way to weight loss by going to the gym if you weren’t doing that while pregnant. Every body is different, but you can cause injury and be in pain once the hormone subsides.
Getting your “body back” from a cosmetic standpoint has close to zero correlation to recovering from a very real process that is intense on the body. Give your body time, nutrition, rest and movement that resembles pregnancy, and you will be more likely to legitimately “get your body back”.
Use caution for a few months (or even a year) rather than spending several years recovering from the post-natal exercise damage.