8 Things Nobody Tells You About Exercising After Childbirth

Photographed by Molly Cranna.
As someone who strength-trained, ellipticized, and stair-climbed her way through pregnancy, I knew I’d be itching to hit the gym as soon as my OB gave me the post-delivery go-ahead. Now to be clear, I wasn’t trying to go into labor with a visible six-pack or anything (though I have no problem with uber-fit pregnant people. You do you.), but I am someone who lives for the gratifying feeling of peeling a sweat-soaked sports bra over her head after a hard workout. And my desire to return to my regularly scheduled fitness program had little to do with “baby weight” or “getting my body back” or any of those other annoying-AF, problematic, pressure-ridden ideas, and almost everything to do with the exquisite stress relief I feel from working out. Plus, it gave me a chance to hand the baby over to my husband (or, with Baby #2, the mail carrier, the InstaCart delivery person, or whoever happened to be around) and enjoy some spit-up-free alone time.
But of course, just like exercising during pregnancy is a little different from your pre-preg regimen, things can change all over again once you give birth. Of course, we’ve all read stories about how your post-pregnancy bladder is more likely to leak during the same 5K that you finished dry just nine months prior. And, sorry, I’m not here to repair your bubble and tell you that’s not true; it is. (You’ll learn more about that ahead — lucky you.) But in reality, there’s a lot more to exercising after childbirth than managing untimely leaks. Much of it is exactly the same. Some of it is different. Read on for eight ways your workouts might change, and how to deal, from me and other new parents who’ve BTDT.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.