Getting back in shape immediately after delivery is what a lot of nursing/new mothers wish for. However, dropping the “baby fat” postpartum is a difficult task for many women. It is also a gradual process and health professionals usually advise that you allow your body to heal first and recuperate for about 6 weeks before you begin any vigorous postnatal exercise.
The essence of postnatal exercises
Postnatal exercises are typically designed to help you burn fat, tone your muscles and stay fit after having your baby. But it takes time to get that pre-pregnancy body back, and you’ll need to control your eating, exercise consistently and remain patient. The good news is that just by breastfeeding, you can burn calories and lose up to 800 calories a day, but don’t forget that it is still not a substitute for exercising.
Besides weight loss, there are many health benefits of exercising regularly after childbirth. Considering that your body undergoes a lot of extreme changes during and after pregnancy, exercising helps you recover from labour, increase energy and reduce the chances of postpartum depression (PPD).
Here’s A List Of Postnatal Exercises That Will Get Nursing Mums Back In Shape After Delivery
It can be very tempting to jump straight into workout sessions the day after giving birth, but experts recommend that new mothers avoid high-impact aerobics, contact sports, or any exercise that requires rapid body movements until several weeks after.
In this article, we’ll share a list of healthy postnatal exercises that will get you back in shape after delivery and help you lose weight naturally. However, it is important to follow the guidance of your doctor, midwife, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist before you start any postnatal workout.
1 — Gentle Abdominal Exercises
After childbirth, the right and left abdominal muscles tend to separate which causes the core to overstretch. You will need to do exercises to tighten your tummy muscles if you want to get back in shape after delivery.
For abdominal exercises, you can decide to do them while lying down, sitting, standing or kneeling with your hands to the floor. Keep your back flat, draw your belly towards your spine and maintain regular breathing. Hold your position for about 10 seconds and repeat up to 8 times.
2 — Swimming
Swimming or aqua aerobics offer a safe way to exercise after your pregnancy. It is effective for toning the muscles without straining your body. Experts advise that if you had a caesarean, you should wait until the bleeding has stopped completely and you’ve had your postnatal check-up with the doctor before diving into the pool.
When you get into it, you can start by aqua-jogging before graduating to swimming laps. Spending half an hour swimming laps is enough and can help you burn up to 300 calories.
3 — Kegel exercises
Kegels are another name for pelvic floor exercises which help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support your bowel and bladder, aka pelvic organs.
For pelvic floor exercises, try to relax your abdominal muscles before starting the exercise. Gently squeeze the muscles around your vagina like you’re trying to hold back urine. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds then relax slowly. Repeat up to 10 times at a stretch and try doing it multiple times during the day.
4 — Brisk walking
If you were not keeping to a fitness regimen before pregnancy, then brisk walking is a good exercise to kick off with postpartum. You can start with a 30-minute walk 2 to 3 times weekly. Feel free to maintain a pace you’re comfortable with. You can also take your baby along and walk gently while pushing the pram.
Avoid walking long distances too soon. A short walk around your street or estate will be sufficient until your body is strong enough to do more. Remember, keeping your back straight, chin up and shoulder back is the best posture to maintain while you walk.
5 — Yoga
Doing yoga after giving birth can help calm your nerves, release tension and rebuild your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
To start your yoga routine, get into child’s pose and perform kegel exercises by squeezing your pelvic muscles then holding and releasing at 5 to 10 seconds intervals. If you’re also experiencing soreness in your shoulders, combining warrior poses with shoulder binds is a great way to counteract it. To alleviate stress and anxiety, doing the bridge pose will be the perfect antidote.
6 — Cycling
Do you know how to ride a bicycle? If yes, great! Cycling is a good postnatal exercise that will get you back in shape after delivery. Before you sit on a bike, make sure you have healed especially if you had an episiotomy or stitches.
Even if you were an expert rider before pregnancy, it is advisable to start slow maybe using a stationary bike. Then when you ease into it, you can ride out with your partner once or twice a week.
7 — Light weight-lifting
The good thing about weight-lifting is that you don’t necessarily have to start with dumbbells. Simply carrying your baby in your arms, raising him or her towards the ceiling and back to your chest counts as exercise.
Weight-lifting is essentially a strength training exercise. To work your back and core, parents.com recommends this: “Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get on all fours with wrists under shoulders; extend right leg behind you. Bend left elbow, drawing weight toward left ribs. Lower weight to complete 1 rep. Do 12 to 15 reps; switch sides to complete set”.
There are many more exercises you can do that will get you back in shape after delivery, you can even consider a few mom-and-baby workout routines if you don’t have a crèche close to your gym.
Regardless of the exercise that you decide to do, first, speak with certified personnel before diving in. Once you get the green light from your health adviser, choose video workout routines focused on healthy postnatal exercises like walking, swimming or yoga to help get you back in shape after delivery.