The joy of birthing your baby safely into this world can’t be overstated; however, recovering yourself postpartum can be really daunting and requires a resilient approach towards returning to your pre-pregnancy state, or even better. In collaboration with our friends at Warm Body Cold Mind, a team of professional athletes and trainers, we’ve created postpartum exercise guide to walk you through postpartum fitness.
Before then, incorporating new gear spices up your postpartum workout routine. If you lift weights, understanding the benefits of knee wraps can give you an extra layer of balance and safety during postpartum exercise.
Now, let’s get you back on track with your fitness goals as we show you why, when, and how you should exercise postpartum.
According to ACOG, postpartum exercise offers the following benefits :
- It helps you lose weight.
- Boosts your energy levels.
- Tones and strengthens your abdominal muscles.
- Prevents postpartum depression.
- Promotes better sleep.
- Provides relief from stress.
Besides regaining a healthy physique, postpartum exercise boosts your mental health as it gives you more confidence in yourself. Of course, if you’re successfully able to accomplish your fitness goals while taking care of your baby, you have the assurance that you can do just about anything.
So when to start postpartum exercise? This is actually best determined by your doctor; hence, you shouldn’t rush into anything without medical approval.
Generally, most women are advised by their doctors to wait a minimum of 6 weeks before starting workouts. Again, this isn’t set in stone, as every woman is different and pregnancy complications might lengthen the waiting period for some.
It might be frustrating to wait so long to get your body in shape, but there’s no need to rush your postpartum exercise routine, as this could worsen matters for you if you’re still in the recovery phase.
Most importantly, resume postpartum workouts when you’re mentally prepared because your physical and mental health have to be in agreement if you want significant progress.
The major aim of postpartum exercise is to get you back in shape and restore strength to your weakened muscles. In creating a postpartum fitness plan, your focal points should be: Aerobic exercises and workouts that repair your muscles.
Because healing is a gradual process, it is best that you ease into your workout routine, as this gives your body enough time to adapt to the exercises. As such, you can begin with low-impact exercises, such as walking or running.
You can start this even immediately after delivery, and it carries the benefit of protecting you from blood clots, which can be formed due to prolonged periods of inactivity. Experts recommend walking as many times as you can in a day and gradually improving the time spent walking as you recover.
Also read: Best Walking Stroller
Most physicians advise you not to jump right into running until about 12 weeks after giving birth. Even at that, it is advised that you restrict your laps to 20 minutes and a maximum of three sessions weekly. With time, you can also work this to a higher number as your endurance increases.
After giving birth, your pelvic floor generally becomes weaker than it was pre-pregnancy, and this can, in the long run, lead to anal or urinary incontinence. Exercises like kegels can promote healing of the pelvic floor muscles by increasing blood flow to them.
To perform kegels, you’re to voluntary contract the muscles of your pelvic floor. Try to locate the muscles you use to hold back urine, then contract them- it’s almost like you’re lifting a marble with your pelvic floor muscles. Keep in mind that this should be done on an empty bladder as it could lead to complications if your bladder is full.
Cardio is important for overall health, but you can’t jump into aggressive exercises just yet even though you wish to shed the postpartum weight gain. Instead, welcome exercises that don’t put so much strain on you, such as swimming, stationary biking, brisk walking, and eventually running—when it’s safe.
With gentle exercises like modified planks, pelvic tilt, and deep belly breathing, your abdominal muscles are targeted and repaired, which strengthens your abdominal wall and improves your posture and stability before you return to your normal workout routine.
Your limb muscles (especially those in your arms, legs, and thighs) also need to be strengthened to get you back in shape. Exercises such as yoga and light weight lifting should be done at least twice a week. Yoga also serves to help you to regain your posture, flexibility, and balance.
You can have the best workout tailored especially for you with the help of fitness professionals. Always remember that every woman is unique and since different strokes apply to different folks, you need a fitness plan that best suits your situation.