Pregnancy and weight gain go hand-in-hand. It’s unavoidable to gain some weight as you carry the baby, infact, it is advisable that you gain some weight. According to Mayo Clinic’s pregnancy weight-gain guidelines, the right amount of weight gain primarily depends on your body mass index (BMI) and pre-pregnancy weight.
However, once you deliver, it’s time to get back to a healthier weight. The challenge, for most new mums, is when to start the journey back to fitness. questions like, “How soon after delivery can I start exercising?” “Can I damage my body if I exercise soon after delivery, especially after a C -section?” are common.
This article gives information on fitness after delivery and provides useful tips for new moms.
Fitness after delivery
Birthing is hard work. It is exhausting, causes massive blood loss and can also potentially harm parts of your body, such as your pelvis. Therefore, although you may desire to get back into exercising after the delivery, your body may not be up to it. You need to heal. Otherwise, if you exercise too soon after, you can cause irreversible damage to your body.
One reason you are prone to accidents after delivery is that your joints and ligaments are fragile. They can break or injure easily as opposed to before the pregnancy due to the hormone called Relaxin.
Relaxin is released in your body during pregnancy to make the joints and ligaments supple, thereby supporting your baby’s growth and allowing the pelvis to stretch during childbirth.
Relaxin remains in the body for a few months postpartum and is one reason you can easily injure yourself if you exercise too soon after birth. Therefore, you should gently build on your fitness by starting with safe and simple workouts and building up as your body gets stronger.
A healthy period to wait before exercising after delivery is between six to eight weeks for normal births. For complicated and surgically assisted births, it may take longer, depending on how fast you heal.
A complicated delivery is anything that causes you mental or physical trauma, such as;
- Postpartum PTSD
- Postpartum infections
- Heavy bleeding
- Chest and back pain
- Severe headaches
If you experience such issues after delivery, it is recommended that you seek treatment and only start exercising when you are healed.
Exercise tips for new mums
There are various workouts you can do postpartum.
What you do should be determined by your body. This means looking at your challenges and how to work around them. For example, if you had a C-Section, you can’t undertake strenuous workouts.
Here is a guide on different challenges and the workouts you can use to beat them.
1. Gentle postpartum exercise
Immediately after birth, many moms can’t do anything without feeling some discomfort or pain. You may be feeling a little bruised and exhausted. Therefore, vigorous exercise after delivery is off the books. However, some form of movement can help improve one’s mood, strengthen the body, and hasten healing.Try gentle workouts such as walking, yoga, and swimming.
2. Pelvic floor exercises
You need to strengthen your pelvic floor after birth. Your pelvic floor is made up of muscles that surround your vagina, bladder, and back passage. These muscles take the full impact of carrying your baby throughout the nine months and get strained during birth. As a result, many women end up with weak pelvic muscles after delivery. A weak pelvic floor can cause incontinence, which is leaking urine involuntarily either when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Regular pelvic floor exercises can get you back to your pre-pregnancy condition.
3. Rectus abdominis workouts
Another common issue during pregnancy is the separation of the rectus abdominis known as Diastasis Recti. This is a separation of the two outer muscles that run down the abdomen. The rectus separation can be small or large. Sometimes the situation fixes itself postpartum, but on many occasions, it does not. The good news is Diastasis Recti can be healed using abdominal exercises.
4. C-section workouts
Cesarean delivery, also known as C-section, is a birth through surgery. It’s sometimes recommended to mums who’ve had prior or current pregnancy complications or as an emergency measure to save the mother and child during a tough delivery. Mums need a lot more time to recover from a C-section as opposed to vaginal delivery. The surgery causes pain or and there may be infection along the cesarean cut and postpartum hemorrhage.
If you are recovering from a C-section, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise but you need permission from your doctor after a reasonable time of recovery has passed. Once you get that, start your workout regimen with some gentle exercises, especially those that target your core. A strong core is vital for good posture and support of the spine. Simple, safe workouts you can do after a Cesarean section are pelvic tilts and modified planks.
5. High – impact exercises
Once you get stronger you may feel like amping your regimen. Strenuous or high-impact workouts you can try include running and lifting weights. Remember, before you attempt anything high impact, your body needs to be ready so you don’t cause damage. Experts suggest new mums take up high impact exercises at least six weeks after delivery. However, this is not for everyone.
Signs that your body is not ready for high impact fitness workouts are pain in the pelvic area, heavy bleeding, and backaches. However, if you see none of the above signs and you feel strong enough to attempt high -impact workouts after at least six weeks of recovery, try lifting light weights or doing high-intensity interval exercises (HIIT).
How to make post-pregnancy fitness interesting
The truth is, working out after delivering a baby is hard work. Although you have all the information on exercises to try, you may lack the time and energy. Afterall, you are dealing with a new baby.
A great way to beat that feeling is to make your fitness journey enjoyable. Here’s how;
- Pick exercises you can do with your baby, like going out for walks while pushing the pram.
- Use an online exercise video. If fatigue is an issue, pick short activities such as 7 or 5 minutes workouts you can do every day.
- Workout with a friend, your partner, or other new mums for moral support
- Find something you love doing and incorporate it into your workout. For example, if you enjoy dancing, Zumba is a great option.
- Include exercise in your daily chores and activities. For example, take the stairs instead of the lift.
You can benefit from postpartum fitness!
While you may be anxious about working out after delivering your baby, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. There are several benefits to postpartum fitness, such as;
- Strengthening pelvic floor muscles
- Shedding excess weight
- Stress reduction
- Improving sleep and
- Hastening recovery
According to personal injury consultants, the most important thing is to exercise with caution after delivery, after your doctor gives the green light.Start slow and build up as you get fitter. Within no time, you will be back to your pre-pregnancy healthy weight or even better.
Author: Christopher G. Aiellz
Mr. Aiello has a reputable 30+ year trajectory in law practice. Having been selected for multiple recognitions and awards, he practices in the Superior Court of New Jersey in both the trial court section and the appellate divisions, the Workers’ Compensation Court, and Municipal Courts. He has appeared in dozens of televised, print and internet media. Now, he’s dedicated in full to his law firm Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman P.C.