Answering Your Questions About Postpartum Exercise
Postpartum exercise provides a lot of benefits to a new mother: it boosts energy, helps to prevent postpartum depression, promotes a better sleep schedule, relieves stress, strengthens and tones abdominal muscles, and helps the mother to lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy. While all of these side-effects are great and beneficial to the woman’s body, a new mother must be careful. She will likely be unable to return to her pre-pregnancy workout routine immediately and will need to gradually build back up to a more strenuous workout over the months following birth. If you are unsure how long you should wait to exercise after giving birth and what exercises to choose, we’re here to help.
Consult your doctorIf you are ever unsure about the level of activity you should be engaging in after giving birth, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend how long to wait before returning to your exercise routine. If you have a specific activity in mind, such as yoga or running, make sure to mention that and see how your doctor responds.
When can I start exercising after pregnancy?If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, you may be able to start exercising again weeks after the baby’s birth. It is a good idea to wait at least a few weeks after giving birth or until you feel up to it. If you had a cesarean birth or other complications during the pregnancy or birthing process, you should consult your doctor about when it is safe to start exercising again.
How can I start exercising after pregnancy?A great way to start exercising again is simply by going for a walk or joining an exercise class. Aim for 20-30 minutes of activity a day. You may also want to try exercises that strengthen major muscle groups that have been affected by your pregnancy such as abdominal and back muscles. From there, you can gradually intensify your workout but you should always stop exercising if you feel pain and call your doctor.
How can I intensify my postpartum exercise routine?You may want to start with aerobic activity which includes any exercise that moves large muscles of the body in a rhythmic way – like walking while pumping your arms. From there, you may want to move to a more moderate-intensity activity such as a light jog or riding a bike on a flat surface. Finally, you can move up to a vigorous workout after seeking your doctor’s approval.
What are some muscle-strengthening workouts that you recommend?There are some exercises that are great for working the body’s major muscle groups that exist in your legs, arms, and hips. These include yoga, Pilates, weight-lifting, sit-ups, and push-ups. Kegel exercises, which consist of contracting the muscles that control urination, can help to tone your pelvic floor and improve urinary continence.
How should I prepare for my workout?Preparing for your postpartum workout is essentially the same as when you worked out before with a few minor tweaks that will make your workout more comfortable.
- If you are breastfeeding, feed your baby or pump your milk to avoid the discomfort of engorged breasts during your workout.
- Wear a bra that’s well-fitting and provides plenty of support.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that will allow your body to breathe.
- Keep a bottle of water near you and take water breaks throughout your workout to stay hydrated.