Women thinking about exercising after having a baby,often find it’s hard to know what is good for them and what may be too much. They may look at Hollywood stars appearing in public just a few weeks after giving birth, looking better and thinner than ever. But this is neither healthy nor realistic for the average woman. Here’s how to go about it in a healthy way.
When to Start Exercising After Childbirth
The first thing women should do is check with their doctor or midwife. If they feel well enough to start walking two weeks after giving birth, then ask at that time. However, many doctors recommend waiting until the six week checkup before doing anything strenuous.
In the meantime, women can start walking every day when they feel up to it. And doing pelvic floor exercises will start to strengthen these muscles again. If the lochia, or post-partum bleeding, increases or turns bright red again, that’s a signal that a woman is doing too much and should slow down. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Gently stretch after each workout. Flexibility is an important part of fitness, and stretching can reduce any post-exercise muscle pain.
For women who are breastfeeding their baby, try to feed her before the workout. Breast are less likely to hurt during the workout because they will be lighter. Also, many babies don’t like the taste of breast milk after a workout because there is more lactic acid in it.
For women wanting to lose some weight, this is not the time to diet, especially if they are breastfeeding. Eat plenty of nutritious foods, such as low-fat dairy products, lean meat, chicken and fish, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. This will give them energy for your workouts and improve their baby’s health if they’re breastfeeding.
Once a woman has started a basic walking routine, she can gradually increase the time and intensity, working up to an hour most days of the week. When she’s received clearance from her doctor or midwife, she can start incorporating more intense exercise, such as jogging or aerobics.
Make sure to include abdominal exercises in the routine. Yoga, Pilates, and basic exercises such as crunches will all strengthen abdominal muscles. This is important because these muscles were stretched out during pregnancy and now need to be exercised to firm up again.
Other exercises to try are ones a woman can do with her baby. Start by doing push-ups with her laying by your head. She will enjoy looking at your face will you work out. You can also try squats holding your baby, or lift her up over your head several times.
When she’s older and can sit up on her own, the baby can sit on the woman’s stomach while she does crunches, or on a mat between her legs while she stretch.
By incorporating exercise into your routine after your baby is born, you can begin to lose weight, feel better and have more energy for your baby.