New Postpartum Physical Activity Guidelines

I mean, it's nothing too surprising.
But I guess it's nice that they even thought about postpartum women.

In November 2018, US Health and Human Services revamped their activity recommendations for Americans. Their overall new message is for all people to move more and sit less. They also offered some more specific guidelines for different groups. 

Is she doing aerobics with her mind?

For pregnant women and women in the postpartum period (no timeline specified, which is one of those curious mysteries–does it last the rest of their lives?), USHHS recommends

  • setting a target of 150 minutes of activity weekly
  • spacing that activity out over several days
  • moving at moderate intensity

For women who were already taking vigorous regular exercise before pregnancy, they acknowledge that it’s safe for them to continue with this level of activity throughout pregnancy, with their doctor kept in the loop.

Just make sure you’re doing exercise that promotes postpartum healing! Don’t be dumb and clueless like the old me. I had this weird idea that I was going to act like nothing had changed after I had my first baby. Looking back,  I would say I had  internalized more than a few sexist mores about what mattered about me. I felt like I had to prove that I was still super tough and fit. 

I tried going back to soccer when my baby was three months old. I had no idea what my pelvic floor was, and I was shocked and terrified when I peed all over the field as I tried to play.

Ridic. You don’t need to do that.

I wish I had slowly built my core strength back up before doing something as intensive as soccer. I feel pretty sure I wouldn’t have suffered more than two years of chronic back pain had I been more educated. 

So, treat your body with kindness and with the long goal in mind. Your body grew that baby for almost a year. The multitude of changes it made aren’t going away overnight.

Build strength and have fun, but remember, however bad you want to get back to Boot Camp/that really hard class/triathalon training/heavy lifts, this is your one body.

Don’t mortgage your athletic future by being impatient or too hard on yourself. I’m faster and stronger (and with a posture that makes me look taller!) now than I was before I had kids. You can be, too. You are not broken. Your best self is still ahead of you.