After your pregnancy, you’ll probably want to get back into shape. But after the life-changing experience you’ve just been through, it can be difficult to know where to start and how to exercise safely. However, exercising after pregnancy provides you with a lot of benefits, and this guide will provide you with some tips as to how you can stay safe with your fitness regime as well as how you can stay motivated.
If you exercise regularly after your pregnancy you can lose weight (especially when you combine it with a diet), tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles, boost your energy levels, improve your cardiovascular fitness, ease your stress and get a better night’s sleep. It’s also a great way to set a good example for your child.
How to Exercise When You’re Breast-Feeding
If you want to exercise but you’re breast-feeding, you’re safe to do so as there aren’t any know side-effects of exercise on breast milk composition or volume. It isn’t thought to affect the growth of your infant either. However, some studies have suggested that the breast milk may contain lactic acid, which is accumulated there after high-intensity exercise. This would cause the milk to taste sour but is a highly rare scenario.
During the first few months that you’re breast-feeding your child, if you want to carry out a rigorous exercise program (the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla and similar alternatives, for example), it may be a good idea to feed your baby before you do this regime. Alternatively, you could pump the milk before to feed your baby after the workout. You could also take a shower after you’ve exercised and express some of your breast milk (around a few milliliters) before offering the breast after half an hour or an hour.
When Is It Safe to Start Exercising After Your Pregnancy?
Following an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you should be safe to start exercising after a few days or when you feel you’re ready to do so. If you’ve had a complicated birth, extensive vaginal repair of a C-section, you should consult your health care provider for their advice on when you should start exercising.
The Goals for Your Post-Pregnancy Exercise
On average, the recommended amount of exercise for healthy women is 150 minutes a week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This is aerobic activity that is moderate to intense and should ideally be spread out throughout the week. There are also a few additional guidelines that you should follow after giving birth, including taking time to cool down and warm up; taking things slowly before increasing your pace gradually; drinking plenty of water; wearing a supportive bra, including nursing pads if you’re breast-feeding; and ceasing any exercise if you start to feel any pains or discomfort.
What Activities Are Best After Your Pregnancy?
Generally, when you start to exercise after you’ve given birth, it’s best to start with something that’s simple and low impact, such as going for a walk. You may also find some postpartum exercise classes at your local gym, which are great if you need some extra motivation.
Once you’ve got the OK from your health care provider you could also try doing some pelvic tilts, which will help to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles. Kegel exercise is also great for toning your pelvic floor muscles, which support your rectum, small intestine, bladder and uterus.
Taking Things One Step at a Time
When you’re looking after your baby, it can be difficult to find time to exercise. Team this with hormonal changes that can make you feel tired and emotional, and a full workout may seem impossible. But it’s important that you don’t give up and seek the support of your friends, family and partner. Be sure to schedule some time in your day for your fitness regime, exercising with someone to try and stay motivated. You can also include your baby by taking them for a walk in their stroller or letting them lie next to you as you do your abdominal exercises.
It’d be wrong to think that exercising after pregnancy will be easy but with some perseverance it can do a lot for your well-being and will also provide you with some vigor and energy so you can take care of your baby. The important thing is to work at a pace that suits you, taking each day as it comes without over-exerting yourself or putting yourself under too much pressure.
Melissa Palmer is sure that her exercise regime, from yoga and running, to doing squats whilst vacuuming helps keep her in her ‘happy place’ as Motherhood throws curve-balls left, right and center!