Research has shown that trying to get fit shortly after birth not only improves overall health, but also reduces the risk of suffering from postpartum depression.
However, pregnancies and deliveries are all different which makes consulting your doctor a good idea before you get started on any exercise program.
What are the benefits of exercising after pregnancy?
Engaging in frequent exercise after pregnancy
- promotes weight loss, especially when coupled with a healthy, low calorie diet
- boosts energy levels
- improves cardiovascular fitness
- strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles
- promotes better sleep
In addition to all of the above, exercising soon after giving birth is a pretty good stress reliever.
When can I start exercising?
Getting exercise doesn’t just mean running on a treadmill or lifting weights. It can also mean simple activities like pelvic floor exercises, which can be done shortly after giving birth.
Doing pelvic floor exercises can help you control your urine from leaking. But if you are looking for a more rigorous workout routine, that might have to wait or need doctor’s approval.
Generally speaking, you can begin your workout program when you feel ready. But if you’ve had complications or other issues during pregnancy and delivery, it’s best to consult with a doctor.
What are the best exercises to start with?
The most reliable form of exercise that you can do shortly after giving birth is going for walks. Heading to the nearest park and garden will do you some good.
Getting out of the house to do some gentle walking can help combat postnatal depression.
While going for a walk, it’s always important to pace yourself. Keep in mind that you just pushed another human being out of your body; you must allow yourself time to recover.
Giving room for the body to recover is even more important if you
- had your baby through caesarean section
- had complications during labor
- had an assisted birth
- had little exercise before and during pregnancy
Will exercising affect breastfeeding?
Physical activity isn’t known to have adverse effects on breast milk production or its composition. However, some research indicates high-intensity workouts can cause breast milk to turn sour because of the accumulation of lactic acid.
That said, the chances of that happening are deemed rare.
But should you prefer a vigorous workout routine shorty after delivering your child, it’s best to feed them beforehand. Or, you can choose to pump breast milk prior to exercising.
How to ease into a fitness routine?
You have to be patient when it comes to shedding the baby weight. Pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks, and it might take a while to return your body to its pre-pregnancy shape.
That said, here are some tips to help you ease into a fitness routine:
- You don’t have to engage in vigorous exercise straightaway. A walk makes for sufficient physical activity when you’re still recovering.
Wait until bleeding has stopped.
- Your body needs time to heal so if you haven’t stopped bleeding, it might be best to lay off strenuous activities.
Do light exercises.
- Apart from walking, you can try out other simple exercises, such as:
- deep belly breathing with abdominal contraction – relaxes muscles and strengthens and tones abs and belly
- head and shoulder lifts – strengthens back muscles
- curl ups – tones the belly and burns calories
- kneeling pelvic tilt – helps tone the tummy, strengthens abs, and relieves back pain
- kegels – tones bladder muscles to reduce risk of incontinence, which is associated with childbirth
Include your baby in exercise routine.
- You will be inseparable from your child during the early months. So apart from taking them on a walk, you can do the following:
- do forward lunges while holding your baby close to your chest – doing this will strengthen your back muscles, legs, and core
- do side lunges – same as the above but stepping to the side this time
- do squats and curls – as you squat, allow your baby’s feet to touch the floor then bring your child close to your chest as you rise; the nature of the exercise requires your baby to be at least 10 to 12 weeks old
Some important reminders
Physical activity during and after pregnancy is important for your overall well-being. However, it’s not an activity that should be rushed into.
You really have to make sure that your body is ready. Meaning, you’re not bleeding anymore and you feel strong enough to take on light exercises.
Just like jumping into any other exercise routine, you should start slow. You can then increase your pace once you get the hang of it.
Fluid intake is very important, pregnant or not. So make sure to bring water along with you while you exercise.
It’s also advisable to wear a supportive bra while participating in physical activities. Plus, it helps to have nursing pads if you to prevent leaks (if you are still breastfeeding).
Most importantly, you should stop when you feel pain. Take it up again once you’re feeling better.
Learn to be realistic
Caring for a newborn baby is not easy. There will be days of pure exhaustion coupled with roller coaster moments.
Your body is going through some changes and you will feel fine some days, but not so great on others. The key is to never give up.
There are different ways to motivate yourself to exercise after pregnancy. One, you could always seek the support of your partner, be it just going for a walk.
Two, you can turn to other family members or friends for help. Give a fitness buff relative or close pal a call and ask if they’d be willing to be a companion during workout sessions.
And three, make sure to schedule time for physical activity. You can start with one session each week then gradually increase from there.
Exercising after pregnancy might not come easy, but doing it does wonders for your well-being.