The nine months spent carrying your child in your womb and the rigours of labour and delivery can take a toll on your body.
The stress and work that comes with taking care of your newborn can also make you feel tired and drained all the time.
Since you feel constantly exhausted, exercising to get back into shape may be the last thing on your mind.
However, maternal-foetal medicine specialists say that being physically active is a must after giving birth. The right physical activities can help you feel energetic during the day and relax and sleep better at night.
Getting enough exercise can also hasten your body’s recovery after childbirth, including toning and strengthening your abdominal muscles. In addition, it can reduce your risk for postpartum depression.
Lastly, engaging in regular physical activities can help you lose weight, get back into shape, and stay fit and healthy.
Exercising Safely After Childbirth
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists or ACOG, you can start working out or doing physical activities a few days after giving birth if you had a healthy and normal pregnancy and delivery.
However, being physically active does not mean doing high-intensity workouts. To avoid complications and stay safe and healthy, you need to engage in low-intensity exercises first.
More importantly, you have to consult your doctor first to check if it is safe for you to work out again and find out which exercises are best for you.
If you had complications during pregnancy or delivered by caesarean section, you may be asked to avoid any form of workout. Your healthcare provider is the best person to give you instructions regarding physical activities you can and shouldn’t do.
Safe Postpartum Physical Activities
Below are five of the best, safest exercises you can do after giving birth to get back into shape:
Walking is the safest workout you can do days after giving birth. This simple activity gets your body moving and burning calories efficiently.
A brisk stroll around the park as you push your baby’s pram already counts as an excellent exercise. However, make sure the handles are at the right height for you so that your elbows are bent at right angles, and always keep your back straight and arms bent as you walk to get the most from this exercise.
Also, consider getting a fitness tracker to measure your daily activity. Use the recorded data as your guide to gradually increase your steps every week as you get stronger.
If it has only been a few days since you gave birth, get clearance from your doctor first before you go on long walks.
2. Kegels and Pelvic Tilts
These exercises are highly recommended for all new mums.
Kegels are exercises that tone your pelvic floor muscles, which support your uterus, bladder, and other organs. When done regularly, it can help reduce your risk for urinary and anal incontinence.
To do this exercise, contract your pelvic floor muscles as if trying to stop urinating midstream. Hold the muscles for 10 seconds and release them, relaxing them for 10 seconds between contractions.
Do at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day to get the most from this exercise.
To strengthen your abdominal muscles, do some pelvic tilts a few times per day. To do this, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent. Next, tighten your abdominal muscles and bend your pelvis up slightly to flatten your back against the floor.
Hold this position for at least 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise five times with at least 10 repetitions each.
3. Deep Breathing
Deep or diaphragmatic breathing is another safe exercise you can start doing within the first few days of giving birth. It is also the easiest since you can perform it seated or lying down.
To do this exercise, lie or sit down on a yoga mat. To relax your body, concentrate on releasing the tension from your toes to your head.
Once relaxed, put one hand on your chest and the other one on your stomach. Next, breathe in deeply through your nose for two to three seconds. Try to keep your chest still even if this action expands your abdomen.
Do these several times for two to three minutes.
This simple exercise can help improve core stability and slow down your breathing rate. Moreover, it enables you to relax and ease your tension.
4. Strength Training and Small Bursts of Cardio
Aside from walking, there are different postpartum exercises you can do to start getting fit.
Doing some squats can strengthen your muscles, help tone your body, and lose weight.
Make sure you only go as low as you can when doing squats. Also, it is best to ask your doctor first if you can do this exercise.
Another cardio workout you can safely do after giving birth is swimming. It’s a great exercise that also helps you relax at the same time.
However, you have to wait at least a week after your postnatal bleeding has stopped before you start taking dips in the pool. Also, consult your doctor first if you are unsure about taking up this exercise.
Once you are feeling stronger, you can add more cardio activities to your day. These can include using the stairs instead of the lift. If you have older children, play energetic games with them during their free time.
5. Postnatal Exercises Classes
Lastly, many postnatal classes allow you to join them with your baby at your side. Because of this, there will be activities that include your baby and their pram or buggy.
As a result, you’ll also get a safe workout as you bond with your baby, learn more about motherhood, and socialise with other new mums.
Try to look for exercise groups for new mums as well. Working out with other women who are eager to get back into shape after giving birth can give you the extra motivation you need to reach your fitness goals.
If you can’t find a postnatal class online, ask your obstetrician if they can recommend one in your area.
Keep in mind that staying fit and healthy postpartum also involves eating right, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest and sleep.
Don’t forget to prioritise these things to get your body back and become healthy, physically and mentally.