There is a drastic change in the roles and responsibilities of a woman as she steps into motherhood. It takes time for her to get adjusted to the new way of life. When you first arrive home with your little angel, exercise is probably the last time on your endless to-do list, and rightly so! But as the days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, getting your body moving again is excellent for your mental or physical health.
But the time, energy, and motivation are simply not always there, especially during those first few months.
It is already known that exercising during pregnancy is great for a woman’s health, but getting active soon after you give birth is just as important. Regularly breaking a sweat boosts your energy levels, relieves stress, helps you to sleep better, and even potentially staves off postpartum depression (PPD).
Here are some things to keep in mind before you start your postpartum fitness:
Start the working routine slowly: Jumping back into your workout regimen so soon after birth is not a great idea, even for ultra-fit mothers. If you push yourself too hard in the beginning, then you are actually setting yourself back from the real recovery. This doesn’t mean that you need to be at home in your house for 6 weeks, feeling hostage. A few minutes walk can be considered a good start. In the beginning, start taking a 5-minute walk and see how you feel. If nothing bleeds, pulls, or aches, you can gradually increase your walking time. Also, during your first few days outings, don’t carry your baby in a front pack or push the baby in a stroller because it can cause too much strain. After you have walked comfortably for a week or two, you can build up from there by adding some gentle upper-body exercises.
Wait for the bleeding to stop: Give yourself the time to heal before you start working out intensely. Once you start doing some heavier workouts or activities, pay attention to the signs that your body is telling you. Some women might find that their bleeding that had tapered down starts to get heavier again. This is a sign that the body needs some more time to heal.
Take it easy if breastfeeding: Nursing doesn’t count as strength or cardio, but in the case of breastfeeding, it does demand a large number of metabolic resources. You burn calories from breastfeeding, but it doesn’t necessarily count as an exercise. If you are nursing, your body needs 500 calories a day more than it needed before or during pregnancy. So it is important to eat enough and eat healthily.
Evaluate your pelvic floor: If your pelvic floor is weak, putting extra-abdominal pressure such as: crunches, pilates, or ab workouts, can inhibit healing or can even lead to a chance of organ prolapse. One of the first forms of postpartum exercise you can start is walking, kegel routine, upper body exercises, restrengthening, etc.
Mind your wobbly joints: The hormone responsible for softening the ligaments and joints during pregnancy and childbirth, Relaxin, can stay in the body for up to six months post giving birth. This can lead to wobbly and unstable joints, and can also cause the loosening of the pelvis. You have to be extra careful when you are choosing any postpartum workout. Choose those that are not too jerky in movement.
Stay hydrated: Once you ease into postpartum exercises, please remember to hydrate well, especially if you are breastfeeding. If you are out for a stroll with your baby or maybe just a walk in the neighborhood, keep your water bottle handy as a reminder to drink often.
It is a common phrase that people often give new mothers: “Sleep when your baby sleeps”, adhere to these wide words. Including a few moments to simply relax post-workout can help replenish you. If you are feeling rested and restored, you will give your baby much more active attention. You can also check essential goodies that new mamas need.
Follow these tips before you start your postpartum fitness. Stay healthy and enjoy this new motherhood phase.