Whether this is the first time you’ve reached postpartum or the fourth, your body would definitely be different to the pre-pregnancy point. Although you might be eager to smash the gym to get back that old self, there are a few things you must take care of before you begin workouts. Read on to find out 7 simple and safe ways to exercise after you have a baby!
Is it okay to exercise after giving birth?
Post-partum exercises should be decided from your pregnancy health issues, complications and what type of birth you had. Low impact exercises like walking are the only exertions you can give your body right after birth.
How soon after birth can you exercise?
If you had a healthy pregnancy with a vaginal birth, you can begin simple activities like strolls, kegels and pilates when you find the time and energy. If you had a caesarean delivery and or other complications like blood pressure, vaginal tears, or diastasis recti, you will need to give yourself extra time to heal before stepping into the game.
How soon can you exercise after C section?
When you deliver a baby via caesarean delivery, your abdomen needs six to eight weeks to heal from the surgery. There should be no strain put on the abdomen through this crucial healing phase. After six to eight weeks, you can begin going on walks. Aerobics and gentle yoga are okay too as long as there is no front bending or raising legs involved.
Isn’t breastfeeding enough to lose weight?
Many women consider breastfeeding the ultimate ticket to losing baby weight. While it is true that breastfeeding burns around 500 extra calories, helps weight loss and healing, you cannot regain your core strength from the process. Although breastfeeding is enough for the first few months, gradually picking an exercise can be beneficial in getting more energy, strength and stamina.
7 exercises for your Post Baby Body
- Kegels or pelvic floor exercises
Kegels help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. They are easy to do, don’t require much time and don’t require special equipment. To do kegels:
- Hold your pelvic floor muscles as if you are stopping urination.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
- You can do 5 sets of kegels thrice a day and build up from there.
2. Deep breathing
Categorising deep breaths under ‘exercise’ can seem bogus, but it is an important exercise that has real effects. Along with relaxing you and reducing stress, it also slows down your irregular breaths and improves core stability by engaging the abdominal muscles.
- Lie down on a flat surface.
- Release all tension from head to toe.
- Place a hand on your stomach and another on your chest.
- Inhale deeply and slowly through the nose and feel your stomach rise. Your chest should remain still. Hold for 3 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth and as you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles by gently sucking the belly button towards your spine.
- Repeat again as many times as you like.
As you get the hang of it, you can do this exercise while sitting, lying on your sides, kneeling on fours or standing too. This breathing engages the transverse abodominis, the group of muscles that have stretched during pregnancy and helps them contract back to shape.
Walking is one of the simplest ways to ease into your fitness after you give birth. It engages your glutes and encourages movement in the whole body. Start with slow 10 minute strolls and work your way up to power walking, walking backwards or zig-zag walking.
4. Pelvic bridges
Pelvic bridges help strengthen the transverse abdominal muscles, the lower back and the butts.
- Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet slightly apart.
- Place your hands flat on either side.
- Lift your hips off the floor and hold for a second; then slowly return to the original position.
- Repeat for 5 times.
For C section, wait until 8 weeks to hold pelvic bridges.
5. Heel slides
Heel slides help you engage all the abdominal muscles gently and pull them back to form.
- Lie flat on the floor with knees bent, hands to the side and feet on the floor.
- As you slowly inhale, stretch your right leg. Slide it flat on the floor.
- As you exhale, fold your leg back to the starting position.
- Alternate extending the legs without tensing or changing your back position.
6. Cat cow yoga
The cat cow yoga pose is an excellent exercise that strengthens the core, supports the back muscles, improves circulation and promotes spine mobility. This exercise is particularly great for relieving back pain.
- Get down on all fours on the floor. Place your wrists straight under your shoulders and your knees straight under your hips. Keep your back flat.
- Inhale and slowly adopt the cow pose where you drop your belly in towards the floor and lift your face. Broaden your shoulders and look up. You back should look like a ‘U’.
- When exhaling, adopt the cat pose which is the opposite. Arch your spine upwards and your face downwards. Your back must look like an inverted U.
- Repeat the cat and cow alternately for a minute.
7. Toe taps
Toe taps help repair the diastasis recti and are excellent for building up that core strength back up.
- Lay flat on the floor with hands on either side. The thighs should be at 90 degrees to the floor and bend your knees so that your calf is parallel to the floor.
- Inhale and slowly tap the floor with your right feet. Exhale as you return to the starting position.
- Next, tap the floor with your left feet and continue.
- If you feel like you are arching your back when tapping your toes, it indicates you are not ready yet. You can stop tapping in the mid-air without going all the way down.
Challenges in post-partum exercises
We often plan grand schedules and rules to follow after we have a baby, but the reality can be wildly different. There’s no guarantee how long a labour will last or how many days you will need to feel aright. Here are some common post-partum exercise challenges that you may have missed considering!
- The core of our body where we carry our babies literally splits in the middle to accommodate the baby. 39% of women were found to have the separation unhealed after 6 months. Exercising can be a challenge with a tummy that feels like jelly. Only a slow and steady approach will help you regain strength – rushing might do the opposite and widen the tear.
- Even if you’ve had babies before, each birth is a unique story. There’s a ton factors that we don’t know exactly – so be open to embracing how you are feeling rather than being hard on yourself. Exercises during this period should be gradual and gentle, not tied with weight loss goals, workout achievements or fitting into those old jeans within x days.
- One in seven moms experiences baby blues, or postpartum depression, which can make you feel down. While the hormonal changes and mood swings may lead to ignoring exercise, being active and moving can help greatly in overcoming them.
- Even if your baby isn’t a crier, frequent nursing through the night itself can make you feel sleepless and lethargic. It is okay to take time to get good rest whenever you get the time as opposed to working out.
Precautions in Post-Partum Exercise
If you are experiencing:
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid discharges
- Heaviness in pelvis
- Bulging in centre of abs
You must stop exercising and meet your doctor to confirm that there are no problems.
We hope you’re now clear on the safe ways to exercise after you have a little one! Subscribe to our website for more interesting articles!