Needless to say that during pregnancy the body undergoes changes and after labor and birth, even more changes occur. So going back to your pre-baby weight and level of fitness may possibly be one of the hardest struggles a woman has to go through in life. That said, women’s bodies are extremely resilient and will eventually bounce back. It takes time, patience and most of all, care.
If you were active and exercising regularly before pregnancy, you will eventually feel an itch to get back on the treadmill or hit the gym, but going back to your fitness regimen is something to do taking cautious baby steps. First for safety reasons and second because your body must be fully healed after everything it has been through. Always take others’ advice on going back to physical activity with a grain of salt, as every person is different and every birth is different. Most importantly, do not start working out again before getting permission form your doctor.
First approaches to exercise after giving birth
Once you have given birth, you will find yourself with a completely new life setting and at times, it can feel a bit much, especially because your body is recovering and will take at least a few weeks to heal. There is no magic number of weeks in which one may return to working out- therefore, ask your doctor and wait for a green light. This will mostly depend on what kind of birth you had (cesarean requires a longer healing process).
That said, once your physician has given you permission, you can start getting back into fitness with light gentle stretching, moving into light/easy exercises involving the core and pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy and birth puts a strain on the pelvic floor and working these gently and gradually is a great way to start off. The most important thing here to preform stretches and exercises correctly. Online there are many resources that you can consult, for example this page shows how to correctly stretch abs. These exercises are not at all time consuming and can be done at home- perfect for new mothers that are still getting into a routine and don’t have much time to spare.
Workouts to start with
After repeating these routine exercises for several days/weeks, you will start regaining your strength back. At this point, you can start doing gentle short walks and gradually increase distance and pace. As you continue you can also include other exercises like swimming and aqua aerobics, which help in working out your heart and lungs without exerting too much pressure on your joints. You can also try yoga that helps strengthen muscles, hips and helps with back pain.
Once you feel stronger and as the weeks go by, you will start to feel “yourself” again. At this point, you could try light weight lifting and/or cycling, which are very crucial for upper and lower body, and they also help in muscle endurance. You should do all these muscle exercises and aerobic activities at least twice a week. You should be keen not to overdo these exercises- As said previously, it is also wise to seek counsel of an expert to guide through these exercises.
Getting back to exercising after pregnancy has proven to have very many benefits both on the body and the mind. Exercising helps also lose the extra weight that you might have gained during pregnancy. It helps your regain your muscle strength, energy and also helps relieve stress that is crucial to keep in check to lowering the risk of PPD.
Written by Mary Johnson.