Working Out After Baby

With postpartum bodies and tiny humans in tow, working out looks different after having a baby. How should moms ease back in? What are red flags to watch out for? And how can you exercise with your baby at home?

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Featured Expert

Episode Transcript

Natalie Gross 0:10
Maybe you're someone who hit the gym everyday before having a baby. But now your body feels different on sleep and you lack motivation to leave the house. Or maybe you were never in great shape and now have a little human motivating you to live a healthier lifestyle. On today's show, we're talking about working out after baby. Everything from the physical changes in our postpartum bodies to the logistics of exercising with the baby in tow. This is Newbies.

Natalie Gross 1:07
Welcome to Newbies, everyone. Newbies is your online on the go support group guiding new mothers through their baby's first year. I'm Natalie Gross mom to a three year old boy and a baby girl. We've got a great show today talking about working out after baby. Now if you haven't already, be sure to visit our website at and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, which keeps you updated on all the episodes that we release each week. Another great way to stay updated is to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you're looking for a way to get even more involved with the show, then check out our membership club called Mighty Moms. That's where we chat more about the topics discussed here on the show. And it's also an easy way to learn about our recording so that you can join us live. I'd like to introduce our panel of mom guests who are with us today. We have Jennifer George, Bobbi Goesling and Tricia Miller. We will also be meeting our expert Hannah Radford, a pregnancy and postpartum workout coach for moms a little later in the show. So mamas, thank you so much for being here. I know you all have very different backgrounds. So let's kick it off with some introductions. Tell us about you, your family and what your workout schedule looks like these days. Bobbi, do you want to start?

Bobbi Goesling 2:08
Sure. Like you said, my name is Bobbi. I just have one little girl. She's four years old. Her name is Kennedy. We live in central Illinois and my workout schedule: I do CrossFit classes. And so I go four to five days a week, twice in the morning and three times twice in the morning with Kennedy with me and then three times in the afternoon with a fuller evening class.

Bobbi Goesling 2:32
Great. Awesome. Jenny, what about you?

Jenny George 2:34
Hello, my name is Jenny George. I live in Maryland with my husband and three kiddos. Our oldest Travis is eight. Well, he'll be eight in May. Then we have a six year old son named Henry. And then Claire is two. And my current workout schedule is four to five days a week I work out at home. And I tried to do that in the morning before everyone wakes up. And yeah, that's mine.

Natalie Gross 3:08
Nice. Good for you. Sure. So what about you?

Tricia Mueller 3:11
Hi, everybody. Yeah, um, so my name is Tricia. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband and our six month old. So still trying to figure out the whole working out thing. I'm currently training for a half marathon in May. And so I'm running three days a week, and then still trying to figure out when to add in the extra workouts. Maybe if you just started daycare today, so maybe it'll be more regular about workouts, but we'll see.

Natalie Gross 3:41
How did exercising change for a while after having a baby? And maybe Tricia, we can start with you since you know it's fresh on your mind. Let's talk everything you know, physically, logistically emotionally, how did being a mom affect you in this specific area?

Tricia Mueller 3:54
Oh, man, yeah, I have lots of things to talk about with this. So, um, I was really fortunate I was able to work out like throughout my pregnancy, um, and so not being able to run immediately postpartum. Obviously, I didn't want to, but yeah, it was, it was a hard return. I had been told originally like six weeks postpartum is when you can start running. And then I saw my gynecologist and she was like, no, no, you need to wait 12 weeks, so that was really tough. Um, but since since I got to 12 weeks postpartum. I've actually been really surprised that runnings been great. The only thing that was really tough and I don't know how much detail you want, but like, I'd love to be able to work out in the morning, but because I'm still breastfeeding, it's not comfortable because I need to wait until the baby's awake.

Natalie Gross 4:46
That's not oversharing you're good. You're in good company.

Tricia Mueller 4:48
Great. So it's, it's definitely been tricky to figure out when I can fit my workouts in with my babies nursing schedule.

Natalie Gross 4:59
I've definitely heard that from other moms, Jenny or Bobby, can you relate?

Bobbi Goesling 5:03
Yeah, I'm a little different in that I thrive off being in a class atmosphere with other people. And I do CrossFit. So I really enjoy heavy lifting heavy weights. And so there are just so many obstacles coming back, obviously, one of them being the schedule to like you said, I also nursed and you're trying to figure out, you know, baby sleep schedule and eating schedule. And that doesn't always work with like a class schedule at the gym, and you're like, hey, excuse me, I'm gonna go pump really quick, you know. So that was an obstacle to overcome, in that sometimes I would make it to class and still have to like do my own different kind of workout because I'm on postpartum working at you know, postpartum fitness is a lot different from like everyone else in the gym. So that was different. But even like you said, just scheduling, it was a little unique, where I would have to go in sometimes would make it to a class, but sometimes the gym owner, would that mean just come in and between classes when the gym was pretty much empty, and I would go in with my baby and have her there with me, so I can do some lifting. And that was a little bit easier to fit in, because I could do it on my own schedule. But it's just, yes. A lot different from from before having having babies for sure.

Natalie Gross 6:16
Jenny, what about you? You said you work out at home a lot. So how has that changed since becoming a mom? And how do you work that into your schedule?

Jenny George 6:22
Yes, well, I think it all depends on the season. You know, working out with a newborn at home is different because they sleep a lot. So you can you have many different choices of the hours that you can work out. But once you get in the groove, like I did not work out normally or regularly before or after having my two boys. And then I got I got a plan and figured on starting that and so I did it like in the afternoons after teaching preschool. But then, shortly after that, I after I started that, I found out that I was pregnant. So it changed again because I was more tired. And so it just depends on the season. But you know, you make it work for you got you. And some mornings worked great. Early in the mornings before everyone woke up. Sometimes a naptime workout was what was

Natalie Gross 7:25
you know, able to do. And then sometimes I had to wait till my husband got home and said here have the kids. I'm going upstairs and working out so nice. Nice. Well thank you so much for sharing all of your experiences. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back I'll be talking with our featured expert today Hannah Radford so listeners, stay tuned.

Natalie Gross 7:49
We are continuing our conversation on working out after baby. Hannah Radford is our featured expert today. As I mentioned she is a certified pregnancy and postpartum athleticism coach, a career that was really born out of becoming a mom and not having anyone to turn to for advice on navigating working out in this new stage of life. Her passion is encouraging women to gain strength and reduce pain through weightlifting. Hannah has also given seminars about pelvic floor health and partnered with local medical providers to establish a referral system for pregnant and postpartum moms in her local community. So I can't wait to learn more about that. Hannah. Welcome to newbies.

Hannah Radford 8:22
Thank you so much for having me.

Natalie Gross 8:24
Absolutely. We've already kind of touched on this a little bit. But after having a baby, when is it safe to resume exercising? And can moms expect to go right back to their pre baby exercises? Or should they be gradually easing back into it?

Hannah Radford 8:37
I love this question is such a good question because there is no great answer because we just heard from three like very unique moms in different stages and different choices. We had some who are runners or work at home or weightlifters. Um, one of my favorite ways to tackle this question is to ask people like if you tore something in your knee and you wanted to get back to working out how would you approach that? And the answer would always be to gradually ease back into it because when we have muscle tissue that is compromised in any way. We need to rehabilitate that before we would just go back into like a full second sprint or weightlifting so as far as when lots of factors you'll usually hear doctors say like six weeks are cleared for physical activity, right? Um, but I think it was Trisha who pointed out her doctor said like 12 weeks may be a more realistic timeframe. So I tell moms I'm working with you can see it as like a fourth trimester. So we have six weeks of just healing, restoration, just trying to reconnect with your body. And then I like to approach it as like six weeks of setting the foundation reintegrating things that you like to do, being consistent with that and then building confidence in those movements. So a little grace is better than jumping right back in and trying to just tackle everything.

Natalie Gross 10:06
I love that answer. Yeah, that's so good. Are there particular exercises or types of exercises that you recommend to help moms, you know, strengthen their pelvic floor, those core muscles after having a baby. And, you know, I'm especially interested in exercise as you can do from home since getting out of the house to exercise isn't always an option, and especially in those early days.

Hannah Radford 10:26
Yeah, absolutely. And this is like, we always want to crawl before we walk mentality. So if you're someone who's been like a marathoner, or lifting or you know, going hard, this is a little bit harder to get through to the athlete brain. But the best exercises are the ones that like reconnect you. So we can have imbalance in the whole course system. So we think, of course, abs and like a hot button word would be like diastasis, recti, like, My abs are separated. So I really got to focus on that. But your core includes like, your glutes, your front of your abs, your upper back, your lower back your hips. So we have all of those working together. So make sure that we're not just targeting one area, but we're seeing the body holistically. So I tell moms, don't underestimate going for a walk, when you're newly postpartum. It's good for you, it's good for baby, if you can get out, you can walk and get some fresh air. Even that is a lot to like a new new mom. Healing, breathing exercises are awesome. So we, you can Google diaphragmatic breathing, people have some really good info on that on how to connect to your core a little more, because we've had trauma to that areas. So trying to control those muscles is a little bit harder, because they're a little more lacks, you've had relaxed and running through your system, and you still do new like postpartum. So stuff you can do at home is like say your squat before we would work on squatting from the knees. So we're just cutting movements down a little. So we're just breathing, getting our core set sitting back down from a kneeling to a sitting position. So back on your heels. And that's something practical, when you're gonna get down and pick baby up off the floor, right? That's a way to squat in some ways when we're up and then sitting down with him in our lap. So we would just progress on those kinds of things, we would do that and then that could progressively overload or just add a little more. So we could squat to a target a chair at your home, a box, something to see if we feel good sitting down, standing back up, move to air squats, then start grabbing weight, you have weights, you have a baby, you've got something you can hold tight, and practice. So that's just one movement example. But like I said, yeah, not just focusing on like that six pack goal. It's just not realistic as much as, hey, how do I feel when I'm doing things that I have to do in daily life? Like getting in and out of my car up and down off the floor? In and out of bed? I've helped people with all those kinds of movements.

Natalie Gross 13:01
Yeah, well, you work with a network of pelvic floor therapist. So what are some signs that moms should maybe stop working out, really listen to their bodies, and maybe seek the help of a physical or pelvic floor therapist before really getting back into their normal workout routine?

Hannah Radford 13:17
Yeah, absolutely. I will just say this, women are tough. So if I say the word listen to your body, right, like, I know, so many women who will just press on, I mean, they just had a baby as if that doesn't attest to their physical and mental toughness. So I tell moms, you have a new body. Now your postpartum body may not be the one it was before. So sometimes there are red flags. And so this is really good to know. When I've worked with pelvic floor, physical therapists, these are kind of just general across the board, like we need to stop in a set. That doesn't mean you can't do that movement anymore, but maybe like they can manage pressure better. So if you're having any vaginal pain or pressure with exercise, that's a red flag, like, for example, leaking, very common, but that doesn't mean that it's not a sign of too much overload in your internal pressure. So leaking feeling like you have the urge to pee. Even if you just went feeling like a tampon was falling out pain with intercourse, you could have weakness in your back, or core just feel like you can't even sit up out of your bed and you feel the pain there. These are all red flags that like your body needs some more restorative movement. And and I approach it that way. Because it's discouraging when you have a red flag and you're like, I want to jump rope and I can do too and I'm, you know, losing my bladder control. So it's just a sign that the feedback is a good way to listen to your body without pushing through and figure out like, just like I said, if you got hurt and you hurt your knee, it would go to physical therapy. So it's the same thing. You just went through a huge trauma to the body. And so we need to work on it in a restorative therapy settings. So yeah, those are definitely red flags, a hot button is a diastasis, or a separation of the abs in the front. And I will say 100% of pregnant women have a diastasis. That's how your body accommodates for the belly. So it itself is not a red flag, what wouldn't be a red flag is if you feel between and there's just like, no tension in that underlying tissue. It's called your fascia. So if you were to sit up and you felt like your hand would go straight through to your spine, and there's just a lot of squish, that's just a cue that we could work a little more in that area. I know superfit moms with, you know, visible muscles who still have a two or three fingers separation. And so there's a lot of fear mongering online about that. So I just want to put out encouragement that it's okay to have a little separation, it does not mean your core is compromised without these other red flags going along with it.

Natalie Gross 15:55
Yeah, that's really good to know. Well, when we think about working out, and a lot of our focus, even in this conversation has been, you know, the physical benefits, but there are mental benefits. Right. So talk a little bit about that. What are some of the other benefits for new moms?

Hannah Radford 16:09
Yeah, I mean, there is so much and it depends on what working out means to you, you know, and so we don't want to have a big part of your life just completely stopped if that part of your life was bringing you joy. So when you're working out before, and then you feel like you're just injured, and you can't come back that can put on some mental load. So really approaching it as building a stronger base has helped so many women. And, honestly, it, it makes no difference. If you've had a baby or not in your strength, as long as you're putting in consistency and determination. I'm not a big fan of bounce back culture of all these moms saying, like, get your body back, because that's just telling us our values and our looks, and it's not so postpartum. Being able to feel energetic, I would say would be one of the best parts about working out. Having other moms with you and community, whether you work out at home, but you can find someone who's doing the same type of thing. You invite another mom on a walk that could be great for mental health. Movement is good for our bodies. And so feeling strong and not in pain when we're working with our kids, is the benefit of working out. So yeah, I always go with just as a part of your lifestyle and making it part of that is so much better than having like a lux oriented goal with postpartum fitness.

Natalie Gross 17:31
I'm so glad you mentioned that. And you know, I should have mentioned it, we're not here to shame anyone into working out or saying that you have to, you know, get right back into it. That's not the intent of this. So I'm glad you mentioned that Hannah.

Hannah Radford 17:41
No way that's I love loves this conversation, just defer my talking about how this can be just such a beautiful positive thing. And let's be real our kids make us workout whether we want to or not, you have a toddler running around, you're getting a workout in some way. So being able to keep up. And I've had so many moms who have never lifted before and then come back like I just I just want to feel strong in my own body. And that's just a great place to start.

Natalie Gross 18:07
Yeah. Well, I'd like to shift the conversation a little bit and talk more about some practical advice. You know, for moms who have their babies home with them, what are some ways that they can continue to prioritize exercise, maybe even include their babies and what they're doing?

Hannah Radford 18:20
Yeah, there's, there's some fun, definitely safe ways. Now we're talking, you know, different ages and such as your baby head control, you know, use your discernment, these kind of things, but, um, I've seen moms bring their babies to our gym. And I know Bobby talked about having her child's along with her. I bring my children with me when I coach. And so there are ways to join gyms. And it depends if you want to spend that time with your child and it's okay to seek out somewhere that has a daycare so you can have some alone time. It just depends on what what each individual needs. But working out with our kids can look like stroller walking stroller running, there's some cool stroller groups, you can look into that do fun workouts. We can hold our baby as a weight like and know how to carry load in our front though, if you're holding them or wearing them in a rap, doing some squats. If they're older, you can incorporate them in like a sit up pattern where you're holding them up at the top. When your kids are toddlers. They can be planking right next to you at home. They can hand you weights for things like watch me and they have their own little, you know, things they can do. So I really like to include my kids. So they see it's like a part of my lifestyle and it's not a punishment, something fun we can do together. So anything you can throw on your bathroom on the front. I mean, that's just a natural parent movement. You know, throwing your kids on your shoulders and giving piggyback rides but I think if your kids see it as a fun thing, it's just become easy and they'll eventually find ways to include themselves.

Natalie Gross 19:53
Well, thank you so much for sharing this important information. Hannah. We are going to take another quick break and then bring our moms Jenny, Bobbi and Tricia back to the conversation so stay tuned.

Natalie Gross 20:07
All right, welcome back, everyone. Any thoughts on what we've just heard from Hannah?

Bobbi Goesling 20:13
I thought I was like tearing up when I was listening to you. And because it's just like, it's so true. So many of those things, I think there's just so much pressure from society to like, get your body back, or even just like we put on ourselves, like, oh, I want to be exactly the same as I was before or whatever. And I think just the best encouragement I got after having my baby was, like you said, like, this is a new body. And I think sometimes, especially for those of us that go to a physical gym, like there's just a lot of obstacles, not just logistically, but internally where I'm like fearful or insecure, or even, like feel shame over my body and what it looks like or feels like and for me, like I had a traumatic birth situation where I had an emergency hysterectomy, too. So I had extra just extra things happening in my body that made it just an obstacle to get back to the gym. But I remember like crying after a workout, and one of my coaches just being like, hey, like, you have a new body, like celebrate the body that you have. And just realizing like man, God made our bodies so strong and amazing that we just like created human life and birthed it and like, I can give myself grace in that and just take it one day at a time and just continue to like, yeah, take good care of my body and love it and honor it. And then like you said, pass that same mentality on to my daughter. And so now she's four. And it's like going to the gym with her is like so sweet. It means that I don't necessarily get through a full workout, like snack distractions, or potty breaks or things like that. But like, Man, what a joy and a blessing to like be able to train my daughter in like, what it means to exercise we work out because we have these strong bodies that we get to use. And it's so fun. And so I have pictures of like doing lunges and squats with her as an infant, all the way through like a toddler. And now she's you know, doing some of those movements alongside me. And so it's really, I would say, having a baby has really even shifted my own focus on like, why we work out and what it means for us and the benefits. And it's been a sweet thing to now share with my daughter too.

Jenny George 22:19
Bobby, I loved what you said. And Hannah, all of it was so great, because I think we sometimes get focused on the wrong goal of like losing weight, we need to be this we got to fit back in our genes or whatever. And and then sometimes we take that and treat exercise as punishment for our body. Like, maybe you just ate cake. And you have to go run 12 miles to run that off. But if we think of it as like a long term goal that yes, exercise makes me feel good. Exercise makes me have more energy. I'm not tired. Scratch it. I am tired, because I'm a mom. Right. But we have more energy that we can give to our family, if we're thinking long term and not just weight loss, weight loss, weight loss, I think.

Natalie Gross 23:15
Yeah, very good point.

Tricia Mueller 23:18
I really appreciated what Hannah and what Jenny and Bobbi have both said, I think being the person other than Natalie, of course on the call who's like the freshest postpartum, I think this is also helpful to hear just to like, be encouraged to view the season that I'm in. And I feel like I'm kind of getting out of it a little bit. But it's still only six months postpartum. viewing this as a time to just kind of appreciate like, the strength that my body does have. And like, obviously, the biggest feat of strength was delivering a human being, or growing a human being. And also giving myself grace, like you guys have mentioned. I think what Hannah was saying about like, listening to the signs of your body and not just pushing through. I've always been in sports been an athlete my whole life, and I definitely would be guilty of that, like, oh, this doesn't feel good. Maybe if I keep running, it'll feel better. So I just yeah, I really appreciated all of this.

Natalie Gross 24:19
Yeah. And, you know, I was working out regularly for the first time in my life before I got pregnant both times, actually. And, yeah, definitely not back to where I was. And like Hannah said, these days, I'm counting, you know, a walk a win. And so I try to make those a little longer each time and that's where we're at. And that's okay. Jenny, you know, you're a Beachbody coach. You post some videos of you working out with your kids around so how, how have you talked to them about this? You know, like, it's mommy's time to exercise. How do you include them in that?

Jenny George 24:51
Well, there have definitely been times that. Like when I first started, I would get frustrated. They're interrupting me if they need a snack or whatever, but like Bobbi said, when you include them, they are seeing your actions. And they know that Mommy needs to do this so she can run around with us or Mommy needs to do this so she's strong. So it's been interesting as the journey has gone on with them watching, because one morning, it was a Saturday. And usually I work out weekdays, and then do just do fun things on Saturdays. But I chose to sleep in. And my, I think it was for at the time, my oldest was, I came downstairs because someone, a child who had woken me up and he was downstairs, and he had my yoga mat all set out for me. And he said, Mommy, I got this out for you. Now you can do your workout. And at that moment, just like cemented in my mind like they need to see us working out. I shouldn't like, Oh no, they're awake, so I can't work out. We can include them. And that was they are your best accountability partners. Because they know that this is your time to workout or whatever. And they will keep you accountable. And it is so fun when they join in as well.

Natalie Gross 26:23
Yeah. But I was gonna ask you a question about motivation. But it sounds like everyone's motivation is, you know, to kind of show their kids that this is important. So any other thoughts on motivation? And what keeps you going even? You know, especially in those early days when it's exhausting.

Bobbi Goesling 26:39
For me, like my mental health is just so much better when I'm exercising. I just I feel a lot better. Even the hardest part is just getting out the door, or just getting into the workout getting started. That's the hardest part. But I know that I'm always going to feel better afterwards. I feel like I come home even now. So I come home and like a much better mood ever after just like feeling those endorphins. And you know, twice a week I work out with my daughter three times I'm on my own. And even just those times of being on my own are motivating to me because it's like, for me, it's also social time, but it's just like a good outlet. So that's the motivation for me. And to be honest, it took me a really long time to find the type of workouts that I enjoy that feel like I like doing this. And so that motivates me because I enjoy the type of workouts I do where it's like, I'm sorry, Tricia, but I could never run for fun. I wish I could, but I just like, running doesn't seem fun, but finding the thing that you enjoy is also motivating in and of itself, I think.

Tricia Mueller 27:43
And I'll just add to that, like immediately postpartum, it felt like going outside for a walk with my baby was like me doing like, a way for me to see that like I could do it if that makes any sense. Because like, I was so overwhelmed with everything and like you're so tired and it's just like what am I even doing? How am I a parent to a person and then like, just taking him for a walk by myself was like look at me I'm independent and so I just really loved that and just getting fresh air and like everyone said just like you feel good afterwards.

Natalie Gross 28:17
Well, Hannah, do you have any last thoughts you'd like to share here as we wrap up?

Hannah Radford 28:22
It's just awesome hearing from other moms and I think just if you approach fitness as something like cyclical as in there's different seasons of it going to happen to you and your life like sometimes we can I fully believe all moms are athletes, like no matter what all moms are athletes, we're moving all the time, managing a lot. There's there's a lot to be done there. So I think it's not whether or not you're someone who can work out it's just tapping into that side of you. And like Bobbi said, we all find joy in different things. So find find where you fit like aren't you know, like, Are you someone who can self motivate and be at home and you like to follow a routine? Are you someone who finds peace in running solo? Are you someone who likes the group and the accountability? I would say like just you know, steer clear of someone trying to make money off your cell, you ABS postpartum or getting your mom BOD back, like find a way to make fitness just part of your like a healthy mindset because then that's long term and fitness should be long term. It's not just it's not just something we do till we hit our goal. It's just it's part of life. It keeps us healthy. So if in a different season of life, you want to try out a different kind of fitness like there's by no means nothing wrong with that. So I think if you're just open to some new stuff, then maybe you will feel limited in your current season.

Natalie Gross 29:47
Yeah, that's such great advice. Well, thank you so much to you, Hannah and Jenny, Bobbi and Tricia, thanks so much for joining this conversation today. listeners. You can find out more about Hannah at Also check out new mommy where we have all of our podcasts episodes, plus videos and more.

Natalie Gross 30:17
That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Newbies. Don't forget to check out our sister shows Preggie Pals for expecting parents, Parents Savers for moms and dads with toddlers, the Boob Group for moms who get breast milk to their babies, and Twin Talks for parents of multiples. Thanks for listening to Newbies, your go-to source for new moms and new babies.

Disclaimer 30:41
This is been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material content in this episode are presented for educational purposes. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts will such information and materials are believed to be accurate. It is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating healthcare problem or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health, or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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