When to Start Exercise after Pregnancy

Getting back into shape after the birth of your new baby is one goal that many new mothers look forward to. After nine long months of a woman’s body changing in ways that many don’t appreciate, your wonderful new bundle was born but your body doesn’t return to its prepregnancy state automatically. Women often face a soft stomach, a few extra pounds and a lot of new stretch marks.

Although exercise won’t do much for the stretch marks it will help regain your shape and shed some of those unwanted pounds. Women who have been exercising prior to their pregnancy find they have an easier time regaining their shape after the baby is born. But anyone can start an exercise program at any time and reap the benefits. The question is more about the types of exercise that are best for women in the postpartum stage as well as how much exercise should a woman who recently gave birth legitimately do.

For those of us who have to deal with small children, families, jobs or most other responsibilities, finding time to include exercise and develop a postpartum weight loss program may not be easy. Women who drag themselves to the gym during their pregnancy, or worked out at home, will find that once they are in their postpartum period the hours during the pregnancy will have paid off.

Remember that it took nine months for your body to get in the postpartum condition it is today so returning to prepregnancy state will take at least nine months, if not longer. While Hollywood actresses seem to be able to regain their pre-pregnancy bodies within a matter of months most normal people don’t have nannies who can watch their children for four in five hours while they work out at the gym.

If you choose to breast-feed it may be a bit more difficult to lose weight because you have to eat more food in order to be sure your milk is full of healthy nutrients for your baby. However, this will not affect the ability of your muscles to regain muscle tone and for you to appear more fit.

If you had a normal uncomplicated vaginal birth you can start stretching the day after the baby was born. Keep things simple and non-stressful such as leg stretches, tricep stretches, and Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If however, you have had a cesarean section then it is best to wait until you have stopped bleeding and your gynecologist has released you for postnatal exercises.

If you are breast-feeding there are a few things to keep in mind. The first thing is that your breasts should always be well supported. The breast tissue is held up by one single tendon and once it becomes stretched the breasts will sag and no amount of plastic surgery can change that. Some women find they need to wear two bras to be supported adequately.

Your infant will appreciate it if you breast-feed him before you exercise so the buildup of lactic acid from exercise will not enter the milk. You’ll find that your breasts don’t feel full and you are more comfortable in your supportive bra. If you can’t feed your baby before your workout, consider pumping milk which will help the breasts to feel less full as well as decrease the lactic acid your baby will drink post-exercise.

An important aspect to any exercise routine is to stick to it. To make the most of your postnatal fitness create a routine that you can live with and establish a schedule to help you maintain regular workouts. Try to find a way to work out at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time. If you want to lose your weight more quickly you will need to exercise more often but never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If your body is telling you that is tired then stop exercising immediately.

If at any time during your exercise program you begin to feel lightheaded or experience heart palpitations or afterwards find that you have increase in vaginal bleeding or have trouble walking or seeing, stop immediately and contact your health care provider. Also, be sure that your health care provider has approved your exercise routine in the postnatal period.

Most women find that their stomach is the area of the body they most want to get back into its pre-pregnancy shape. They figure that if the stomach gets into shape than the hips legs and upper arms will follow. The stomach is also one area that is the most noticeable to women.

Situps may be the best exercise for abdominal muscles to get them in shape quickly but there are a couple of points to consider. The first is that your body should always be well padded by a rug or mat on the floor. You should always keep the small, or arch, of your back in contact with the floor. You can do this by keeping your knees bent and pushing your pelvis down.

Kegel exercises, which you should have been doing throughout your pregnancy, are also good for improving your lower abdominal muscles. By doing them through your pregnancy and helps to make labor easier and helps to return the lower abdominal muscles to pre-pregnancy state. Kegel exercises also help with bladder control.

Most women in their postnatal state find that walking briskly while pushing the stroller with their infants is a great way to get 30 minutes of exercise several times a week without being intrusive in their schedule or taking too much time out of their day. Going for a walk will help improve your cardiovascular state as well as burn off some of the extra weight after the baby was born.