Most new moms want to get in shape as soon as possible after having a baby. But, for many, it can take many months or even a year or more before they are able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and fitness levels. Those who exercised before and during their pregnancies will be able to get back in shape much more quickly after delivery. No matter what level of fitness you maintained before you gave birth, the sooner you are able to start exercising and following a healthy diet, the sooner you will be able to get back in shape. Here are some things to keep in mind when starting a post-natal fitness routine:
Start with Kegels
One of the most important exercises you can do after delivery — and the one you can start the very day you have the baby — is kegels. These exercises help to rebuild your pelvic floor, strengthening the muscles for improved bladder control, relief of hemorrhoids, and improved sexual pleasure. Kegels can also help to speed recovery by promoting healthy blood flow to the pelvic region.
Within a few days to a week after delivery, you may feel ready to do more. Start by trying out some light stretches to improve flexibility and encourage healthy circulation. Stick to light stretches for a few minutes each day, then slowly build up the level of stretching and the time. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll risk strains or other injuries.
Focus on Core
Your core muscles — abdominal and back muscles — are important to your overall level of fitness as they help to support your body in all your actions. They are also the muscles that are the most stretched and weakened during pregnancy. When you are feeling ready to increase the level of exercise — typically several weeks after delivery — you can start performing some light exercises for your core. These can include crunches, pelvic tilts, and similar exercises.
Strengthening your core will help you to flatten your post-pregnancy pooch a bit faster, and it will make starting more intense exercise easier.
When you get the approval from your doctor to start a regular exercise program — typically about six weeks after delivery — you can start slowly with low-intensity exercises. Walking, yoga, aerobics, and pilates are great examples of safe and moderate exercises. Try performing 30 minutes of these exercises three times a week until you build up your strength and stamina. Over time, you can work out for additional time, more days during the week, or with more intense exercises such as jogging or running.
Once you have become accustomed to regular exercise again, start to add strength training back into your routine. Building muscle strength will help you to burn more calories even when you are at rest. Improved muscle tone can also help you to perform exercises more efficiently and to reduce your risk of injury. Should you have another baby, improved muscle tone will also help make labor easier and will allow you to get back into shape more quickly after delivery.
The key to creating a successful post-natal workout plan is to start by taking small steps and slowly building on your progress until you are back to the level of fitness that you want to be at. Be sure that you get the go ahead from your doctor before starting a new program, and always listen to your body so that you don’t push it further than it’s ready to go.
About the author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for CollegeGrants.org. She has a Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on education grants for women and medical school scholarships and grants.