Motherhood changes female martial artists both physically and emotionally. And while you may feel ready mentally to return to your training, your body may not be.
Returning to martial arts training postpartum is a slow process that requires patience.
Here’s how to get back to training after pregnancy safely.
Tips to Get Back Into Martial Arts Training After Pregnancy
New motherhood means breastfeeding every couple of hours, sleepless nights, and constant fatigue. Take all possible precautions before committing to a regular training schedule.
1. Go Easy on Yourself
Remember, your body has just been through a lot of changes. Your breasts are larger and heavier, meaning you’ll need a larger and more supportive sports bra. Your abdominals separated during pregnancy and need to heal. Also, your pelvic floor has weakened so you’ll need to be aware of your continence.
Always feed your baby before you start training, or bottle the milk. And be careful not to damage your breast tissue. Listen to your body and don’t push too hard. You’ll get back in shape eventually – albeit not your prepartum shape – but it’s hardly a priority at this stage. Be persistent but also patient.
2. Start at Home
The first few months (years, really) of motherhood are very tiring and busy, depending on how much support you have from family and friends. Returning to your dojo may be (understandably!) the last thing on your mind. Or you may not feel comfortable just yet.
In such cases, begin gentle training at home. (See point #2.)
3. Proceed Gently
Always start any training program slowly after a long break. Begin with walking, stretching, and a good warmup; anything that doesn’t require heavy lifting. You can go for gentle shadow boxing, tai chi, karate, jiu-jitsu, or wrestling. As you feel yourself getting stronger, start incorporating a more complicated workout routine.
4. Keep Your Doctor and Trainer Informed
If you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy and natural delivery, it’s okay to start working out after a few days if you feel up to it. But it’s better and safer to discuss your training plans with your doctor and trainer, especially after a C-section or complicated pregnancy. This will help you plan out a safer workout and let you train with minimum risk and maximum benefit.
5. Push Yourself Responsibly
Before you jump back into any type of training, make sure your body is healing. Your ligaments are still tightening up, and your joints will be moving with some resistance. Allow yourself at least a few weeks to heal and always be careful.
Have questions? Get advice from your trainer. Also, consider talking to another mom about her experience returning to training.
6. Don’t Ignore Warning Signs
It might feel good to be back training, but you should be careful. If you experience any pain, pull back. Keep yourself hydrated and eat enough to fuel both your workout and your infant, if you’re breastfeeding. If bleeding increases after your workout, stop immediately and consult your doctor.
7. Don’t Try to Get Your Pre-Baby Body Back
It is a natural (if virtually impossible) desire to get back to how you looked prepartum, especially if you were active before. But don’t let it become an obsession as it can stop you from listening to your body. Always give it the time it needs to heel and never ignore pain or discomfort. It may be hard to accept but your body may not be ready to return to its former shape as quickly as you want it to. In fact, it likely won’t.
Motherhood requires a lot of learning and adjustment. That includes giving your body time to heal. Remember, rushing back into training will only tear your ligaments and induce other injuries. Take it easy and listen to your body. In due time, you’ll get back to your old martial arts training regime and regain your strength.