Eager to get rid of your pregnancy belly? A great post-baby body does not come overnight; you have to work for it! Exercise also has tons of other benefits to help you get stronger and healthier for your baby.
Read on to learn more about easy, helpful exercises, tips on how and when to start exercising, and more!
When can you start Exercising?
You can do some stretching and a few light, low-impact exercises soon after giving birth as long you exercised regularly to the end of your pregnancy and had a smooth delivery.
However, you should wait for at least six to eight weeks after birth (and a go signal from your doctor) and start exercising gradually if you:
● Had labour complications
● Had assisted birth
● Did not regularly exercise during and before your pregnancy
● Are experiencing bladder leakage
● Had a C-section
● Had back or pelvic pain during pregnancy
● Still, have postnatal discharge or bleeding
Benefits of Exercise After Delivery
After-pregnancy exercises, especially pelvic floor and lower abdomen exercises, have tons of benefits for this phase. Here is a list of some of them:
● Weight loss promotion, along with reduced calorie intake
● Cardiovascular health improvement
● Toning and strengthening of abdominal muscles
● Energy boost
● Stress relief
● Better, more restful sleep
● Good, healthy example for your child or children
● Improve mood by increasing endorphin levels
● Protection against pain and aches
● Improve stamina and strength
5 After-Birth Exercises
When starting to exercise after birth as soon as your doctor allows you to, opt for low impact exercise. It’s best to avoid aerobic exercises like tennis, aerobics, or running. These can cause you to leak pee.
Sit ups or crunches may seem like a good idea for getting rid of belly flab, but what these actually do is work on the outer ab muscles without strengthening the ones underneath, making things worse.
According to Tracey Mallett, fitness expert and creator of Get Your Body Back DVD, working out your abdomen from the inside out will lead to better, longer lasting results.
Jade Alexis from the Reebok Sports Club also believes that six weeks after birth can be a good time to hit the gym again. Before doing so, however, you should consult your doctor for an exercise plan and ensure that it’s safe.
Here are some of the postnatal exercises recommended by experts:
1. Kegel exercises
● Help restore health
● Promote healing and recovery
● Enhance the strength of pelvic floor muscles
● Prevent urinary incontinence
● Sit on a bench or chair with feet apart and hands on your hips.
● Contract your pelvic muscles like you would when trying to stop peeing, then stand up.
● Hold this for ten seconds, sit back on the bench, then slowly release.
● Do 1 to 3 sets with 10 to 20 repetitions or do twenty 10-second holds five times throughout the day without the chair.
2. Floor Bridges
● Strengthens hamstrings, transverse, lower back and glutes
● Lie with your back and feet flat on the floor, knees slightly bent, and arms on your sides.
● Inhale and exhale as you pull your abs upward and inward towards your spine.
● Engage your core and buttocks to lift your hips off the floor to a bridge, with heels held firm on the ground.
● Do a kegel while doing the bridge, hold for three counts, then slowly return to starting position.
● Do 1 to 3 steps with 10 to 20 reps.
3. Forearm Plank
● Targets your obliques, glutes, and thighs
● Works the core without straining your back and neck
● Lower into a plank with a straight back, feet and legs extended, engaged core, and forearms flat on the floor.
● Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, maintaining tight abs and keeping your hips up.
● Rest and lower your knees to the floor for about thirty seconds, then resume back up again.
● A complete repetition consists of 4 to 5 planks.
● To make it more challenging, move into a side plank after holding a regular plank for 30 or 60 seconds. Rotate your body to the left side, shifting your weight to one hand. Then, raise your right arm directly upward, palm pointing forward. Put your right leg and foot on top of the left. Hold again for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.
4. Single-Leg Stretch with Towel
● Strengthens the transverse abdominals
● Strengthens the core
● Makes torso appear sleeker
● Lie on your back on the floor, knees held above your hips and your shins and calves parallel to the floor.
● Place a towel over one of your thighs, holding the ends and pushing away from you, but against the thigh to create resistance.
● Lift your shoulders and head up while also extending your other leg out in an exhale.
● Repeat this with the other leg, alternating until you work up to 10 reps, 5 for each leg.
5. Advanced: Wide-Stance Deadlifts
● Works out the glutes and legs
● Strengthens the lower back
● Improves ability to pick up or put down your baby
● Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and knees slightly bent.
● Hold a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward.
● Slowly bend forward, extending your butt backwards and lowering the dumbbells to the level of your shins.
● Engage your glutes and go back to the starting position.
● Do this for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Fitness Tips for Moms after Giving Birth
Aside from exercise, there are other things you should consider and keep in mind to get back to a fitness routine after pregnancy. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Start slowly and be patient with yourself. Pushing yourself too hard may set you back from actual recovery.
2. Wait for your bleeding to stop before attempting to do exercises and heavier activities. Pay attention to your body.
3. Restrengthen your pelvic floor through a kegel routine.
4. Repair diastasis or the separation of abdominal muscles through regular checkups, therapy, and avoiding to overdo ab workouts.
5. You may experience unstable or loose joints during and after pregnancy due to the hormone relaxin, which softens your joints and ligament. So, avoid jerky, sudden movements.
6. Start exercising by doing short walks then gradually making your way to low impact cardio.
7. Once you start exercising again, make sure to stay hydrated, especially if you breastfeed. Drink plenty of fluids.
8. Take time to breathe, sleep, rest, and relax. This will help better replenish your energy for the people who need you.
Getting active with safe exercises after pregnancy not only helps you heal and recover but also restores your strength and energy for your family!