The post-natal period is often a difficult time in term of maintaining the commitment to exercise. Getting to know your baby and how to care for your baby is a rewarding experience but it takes a lot more time.
Exercise after pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself, regular exercise after pregnancy can:
- Promote weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
- Improve your cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
- Improve posture
- Increase metabolic rate
- Boost your energy level
- Increase self-confidence
- Reduce anxiety
- Promote better sleep
- Even helps risk of postpartum depression
Better yet, including physical activity in your daily routine helps you set a positive example for your child now and in the years to come.
When to start
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, it’s generally safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth or as soon as you feel ready. If you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program or even better see a postnatal physiotherapy
Generally, it is recommended that women wait about six weeks to start exercising after they have given birth; eight weeks if they have had a caesarean. However, some women can start exercising before this. Listen to your body and wait until you feel ready
What exercises should I start with?
Strengthening your pelvic floor will help to protect you against having accidental urine leaks. Try to build your pelvic floor exercises into your daily life, continuing the exercises you did while you were pregnant. It’ll benefit you in the long term, and through any further pregnancies. If you struggled to remember your exercises during pregnancy, try not to worry, as it’s never too late to start.
Even Starting with walking whilst pushing the baby in the pram is a great way to exercise and build your fitness level up, start with 10minutes then gradually building it up, other exercises you can consider are low-impact exercises, such as swimming, pilates, yoga, gentle jogging and low resistance gym work.Make sure you take water with you, especially if you’re breastfeeding, so you don’t get thirsty.
Are there exercises I shouldn’t do in the first six weeks?
Don’t go swimming until you have had seven days without any bleeding or discharge from your vagina. If you have had stitches or a caesarean section, wait until after you have had your postnatal check to do exercises that go beyond gentle tummy-tightening
Before you start exercising just consider these guidelines:
- Take time to warm up and cool down.
- Begin slowly and increase your pace gradually.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Wear a supportive bra and, if you’re breast-feeding, nursing pads in case your breasts leak.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain and call your GP