Every pregnant woman’s type of birth is special and unique, and this will largely determine her short or long term recovery, as well as when to start a pre-pregnancy fitness and figure recovery exercise routine.
When to start exercising after pregnancy?
Regular exercise after childbirth can be a challenge, because while the priority is to settle into your new routine with your baby, it may be the last thing on your mind. However, many women want to get back in shape as soon as possible after pregnancy, and indeed they need to.
Why? Being active just after childbirth is more important than ever because, as research published in the scientific journal Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey shows, it significantly improves heart health, helps increase metabolism, eliminates excess weight, reduces stress, increases energy and improves overall mood, as well as helping to combat the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety.
Above all, because being a new mother involves a considerable change of life and habits. Among them, less sleep or insomnia, feeding, maintaining and caring for a baby, as well as recovering from childbirth, is not an easy task, as fatigue is pressing. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done and that there aren’t certain postpartum exercises that are worth doing for their effective and positive results.
In general, the period to start exercising after childbirth is considered to be the first six weeks after delivery. However, according to the experts in the study, the first year (or until the cessation of breastfeeding) is also considered valid and enters a prolonged period of postpartum recovery and transition.
In any case, the best thing to do is to exercise, as the same report also mentions how little or no exercise can also lead to more inactivity in the years that follow. That said, let’s start by unravelling the benefits of exercise after childbirth.
What are the benefits of postpartum exercise?
To begin with, you can weigh up the advantages and benefits of starting a basic daily sports routine. Simple exercises, such as walking for at least 30 minutes, can put you back on the road to physical recovery. However, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), some of the benefits include:
- Helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
- Helps strengthen the pelvic floor
- Increases overall energy
- Can help combat and prevent postpartum depression
- Promotes and improves sleep quality
- Relieves symptoms and stress
- It can help to lose extra weight gained during pregnancy (most commonly).
So, as recommended, although the guidelines vary from woman to woman, the most popular goal is to lose the excess weight gained from pregnancy. Initially, however, it is best to start by focusing on just getting fitter and more physically active. The biggest advantage is that introducing some careful postpartum exercises will usually result in weight loss, and will help you recover and feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and emotionally, in addition to getting your figure back.
The best postpartum exercises
Getting back in shape after childbirth should be a gradual process. A pregnant woman’s body goes through a huge change and recovery takes time, with or without exercise. In addition, the experience of becoming a mother is also challenging at first, so it is best to be compassionate and kind to yourself, and keep your expectations realistic. Some suggestions for getting started with exercise include:
Kegel exercises involve doing small contractions of the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal wall. This type of postpartum exercise strengthens weakened pelvic muscles, which is very common in women who have just given birth and can lead to problems with bladder control and urination.
With basic Pilates exercises, and some modifications, you can also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and increase your flexibility. Many studios offer personalised postpartum exercise classes or personalised training to suit your needs.
If swimming is your thing, swimming is one of the best postpartum exercises, although it is essential to wait until the wounds (e.g. from a tear, episiotomy or caesarean section) heal and the bleeding stops, which usually takes a few weeks after delivery. But once healed, swimming provides a gentle form of cardiovascular and resistance training, as it tones muscles and burns calories.
Short, slow walks can help prepare your body for more vigorous exercise. If you were exercising before pregnancy, you may need about six weeks before you can get back to what you were doing before, but most women can start walking soon after giving birth. Start with about 30 minutes a day and gradually increase your speed.
Gentle yoga postures can be a great way to get the blood flowing and muscles moving while reducing stress. You may need to avoid some asanas (such as inversions), but basic movements such as warrior I and any that involve forward and backward pelvic tilts are a great place to start.
Apart from the exercises mentioned above, make sure you eat a healthy diet, as well as use some firming products to help the skin regenerate sooner. To complement any of your chosen practices, it is important to maintain a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Limiting portion sizes can help, as can staying well hydrated.
These guidelines are essential, especially if you are breastfeeding, which can require up to 500 extra calories a day. In fact, many breastfeeding mothers eat several small meals a day to keep their energy levels up, and in the long run, prolonged breastfeeding helps with weight loss.