In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our November-December 2011 issue, we gave Sarah McMoyler, RN, a question about getting back in shape after having a baby.
Q: I was in good shape before I got pregnant. How will I ever get my "old" body back after my baby is born?
A: Understandably, you may worry you'll never have time to exercise again, but you will. All new mothers struggle with taking time for themselves. The trick is to make it a conscious decision -- a priority -- that you commit to do every day.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that if you were active before pregnancy and had a normal vaginal birth, you might be able to start walking and doing basic strengthening for the stomach, back, and pelvis as soon as you feel able. If you had a C-section, you may need to wait several weeks to start any activity.
You won't be able to run five miles or bike 20 miles at first, of course. But start by walking (with your baby in a stroller, front carrier, or sling) within a few days of giving birth. Once you're a little stronger and your doctor or midwife says it's OK, look for a postnatal exercise class that welcomes babies. You might also invest in equipment or DVDs to use at home, so you can work out while your baby is sleeping.