To get back into a post-partum exercise routine, you need to be patient and realistic. It doesn’t matter if your labor was quick or long, the body undergoes a huge transformation during pregnancy and childbirth, and it needs time to heal.
I would advise you to talk to your doctor before engaging in any strenuous physical activity but here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Start slow.
Even if you had been working out prior to your pregnancy and childbirth, you can’t simply just jump back into your old routine. Avoid exerting yourself for at least two weeks and much longer if you gave birth by Caesarian section. Your uterus is still healing and exercising may cause discomfort.
Pushing yourself too hard at the start will only lengthen your recovery period. So perhaps you can ease into a routine by walking for 10-15 minutes at a time and see how you feel after. You can then gradually increase the duration of your walk for a week or two and build up from there.
Once you try heavier activities, pay close attention to any signs your body is giving you. If your bleeding becomes heavy or if you feel pain, this could be an indication that your body is not yet ready to do strenuous activities just yet.
2. Take it easy if you’re breastfeeding.
You need to wait several weeks after giving birth before you start thinking about weight loss. Remember that some of your pregnancy weight will come off on its own during the first few days. Additionally, if you’re nursing, your body needs an extra 500 calories a day so make sure you eat enough healthy food for you and your baby.
3. Assess your pelvic floor.
Placing intra-abdominal pressure (with ab or core exercises) can put too much pressure on the pelvic floor which may cause organ prolapse. To evaluate your pelvic floor you can start with a kegel exercise, to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
4. Pay attention to your joints
Relaxin, a hormone which softens the joints and ligaments during pregnancy, can remain for up to six months after childbirth. This will make your joints unstable and your pelvis weak. So in the first few months postpartum, it’s a good idea to avoid going to gyms or workouts that will put a lot of pressure on your joints.
5. Try different kinds of postpartum exercises.
You can begin by walking as a gentle cardio workout. You could also consider swimming which is gentle on the joints and pelvis, as it strengthens the core and back.
6. Drink lots of water.
Do remember to hydrate well, particularly if you are breastfeeding.
7. Get enough rest.
Most new moms don’t get enough sleep. So make it a point to get as much snooze time as possible, even a nap after feeding your baby can make all the difference. If you are feeling rested, you’ll have more energy to exercise.
What NOT To Do
Now that you have some idea of what you should be doing to ease into postpartum exercise, here are a few things you should not be doing:
- DON’T go to a fitness class where the instructor has no post-natal background.
- DON’T read magazines or blogs showing celebrities who were able to drastically lose weight 3 months after giving birth.
- DON’T wear poor fitting bra and shoes.
- DON’T overdo your exercise.
- DON’T run or jump for at least 6 months.
Watch this video to learn Kegel and stretching exercises: