After having a baby, it is likely you are eager to get back to your pre-pregnancy body and energy level. After nine months of growing steadily, you want to feel fit and attractive once more. Depending on how strenuous your pregnancy was, the level at which you incorporate postpartum exercise into your routine may vary. Make sure to check with your doctor first before beginning an exercise program.


Is Postpartum Exercise Safe?

If you have had a normal pregnancy, postpartum exercise is very safe and encouraged. However, as everyone from those in nursing to even medical billing and coding will tell you, you need to start slow to let your body adjust to your new routine. Changes have happened in your body. Your feet may be slightly bigger, your joints are probably looser thanks to stretching of ligaments and your muscles may have lost some tone — particularly your abdominals. You will also probably find that you have less stamina. Starting slow will prevent injury and allow you to get used to the changes in your body.

How is Postpartum Exercise Beneficial?

Perhaps when you think about exercising after having a baby, you are focused primarily on getting into their pre-pregnancy jeans! On the other hand may be you are tired of feeling heavy and out of shape and want to feel healthy, fit and attractive again. Postpartum exercise will help with all of these, and also has a number of additional benefits:

— Helps alleviate aches and pains that can come from the many changes in the body
— Helps reduce postpartum incontinence
— Helps decrease the risk of injury while new mothers care for their newborns
— Increases cardiovascular endurance to help adjust to the demands of a baby
— Improves symptoms of postpartum depression

Appropriate Postpartum Exercise

Which types of exercise are best for women who have recently given birth? Many hospitals or birthing centers offer access to fitness classes specifically designed for postpartum women. Talk to your doctor to find out about these groups or contact your local birthing center. In addition to providing a safe and appropriate workout routine, a postpartum class will also give you a chance to meet and socialize with other new mothers. It’s easy to feel isolated after the birth of a child, and social interaction can help alleviate that.

If you’d like to set up your own program, you have several great options to choose from. Water aerobics is an excellent choice, as your body is supported in the water and your chance of injury will be significantly reduced. Walking is also a perfect choice for most new mothers, as it is easy on the body and joints and can be done anywhere, at a pace that feels right to you.

Additionally there are exercises that can help tone the abdominals of recently pregnant women, such as pelvic tilts and leg slides. To perform a pelvic tilt, lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. While exhaling, gently lift your tailbone straight up while your hips remain on the floor. Tighten your glutes, then release. Perform these in sets of eight to ten. Leg slides begin from the same position. Tighten your abdominals then press your tailbone into the floor. Slowly extend your leg, sliding your heel along the floor. Keep your back pressed to the floor. When you can go no further, slowly retract the leg and repeat with the other leg. Repeat with each leg eight to 10 times.

Once you’ve regained strength in your core muscles, you can begin incorporating other strength-based exercises, including crunches and push-ups. Whichever exercises you choose, be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially if you are breastfeeding.

Starting slow and building up will soon have you back to your regular level of exercise. Postpartum exercise will help your body bounce back from childbirth and help you adjust mentally, as well. Talk with your doctor about setting up your exercise routine today.

Patricia Walling

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Her Fitness Hut

Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist
Certified Nutrition Coach and Nutrition for Metabolic Health Specialist. Since 2006, I have helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle habit changes that helps you to achieve better long-term health, which includes body transformation and ideal body weight.
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