After giving birth, new moms find a body vastly different to the one they looked at in the mirror less than a year before. Many notice weight gain, stretch marks, loose flesh around the abdomen and sagging breasts. With the demands of a new-born it can be difficult to find enough time and energy to get back into shape. Look on the bright side – these changes took place so your body could nurture your beautiful baby! There are even things you can do to encourage your body to regain some of its pre-pregnancy shape soon after delivery.
Exercising after the birth
Although you should not begin an exercise routine until cleared by your doctor, there are some activities that can be done within the first six weeks. As early as a few days after delivery you may incorporate a kegel routine to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You can use baby as a “mini weight” to do some gentle lifting. This can be done anytime or anywhere and introduces your body to some gentle exercise. The bonus is that mom and baby can enjoy bonding.
Start to work on those stomach muscles by holding them in, towards your spine. Practice breathing deeply, holding for a few seconds, and then slowly releasing. Try some pelvic tilts; stand against a wall and use your stomach muscles to tilt your pelvis backward. Put your hand between your back and the wall; you should be able to feel your lower back push against your hand.
The six week check-up
New moms usually have a health check around six weeks. Check with your health provider about exercise at this point, keeping in mind you may need to wait longer before you do anything more strenuous. The pregnancy hormone relaxin can stay in the body for up to six months after the birth and may cause unstable joints. Because of this, choose activities that do not jerk your body too much. Be careful when exercising you abdominal muscles because they may have separated during pregnancy and birth.
Suggested activities for new moms
Walking is a good, gentle cardiovascular exercise. If your muscles and joints are feeling sore, copper and zinc infused knee sleeves can be bought from the Tommie Copper online store. Designed to relieve soreness, the compression of the sleeve helps promote blood circulation which can assist with inflammation. The fabric is soft, light, and comfortable for use during exercise.
Swimming is gentle on the joints and good for strengthening your back and core muscles. Pilates, yoga, or exercise classes are good for toning muscles – and for relaxation. Wear a good pair of shoes, wear a well-fitting sports bra, and be sure to inform the instructor that you are a new mom. More importantly, drink plenty of water.
Dieting is not recommended while you are breastfeeding or recovering from pregnancy. Eating a balanced diet and napping when your baby naps can help you feel more energetic and crave fewer sweets.
Because pregnancy and delivery can take a huge toll on the body, it can be difficult to get back into a fitness regime. However, you will be on the right track towards getting your pre-pregnancy body back by keeping healthy during pregnancy, eating a balanced diet, doing some gentle exercises as soon as you feel your body is ready, and slowly building up to more strenuous exercise. Just don’t rush! It took months for your body to develop a healthy baby and it can take months for your body to fully recover.