Postpartum exercise regime: 9 fitness tips for new moms
Ready to spring back into shape after your delivery? Postpartum fitness goes beyond just weight loss; it can also help you emotionally and mentally! Here are our top postpartum fitness tips for every new mom.
Celebrity moms with their fit bodies immediately after childbirth might give you impossible postpartum goals. However, in reality, your body will take some time to heal itself and bounce back to your pre-pregnancy self. After 36-40 weeks of pregnancy, your body has undergone a lot of changes and they won’t go away overnight!
Instead of exercising just to lose weight, you should focus on staying active post-pregnancy to improve your overall health. Exercising is one of the best c-section recovery tips as it can help new moms bounce back from their delivery, strengthen their pelvic muscles and even prevent postpartum depression. Here are some of the most effective postpartum exercise tips to help you get started.
1. Start with walking
One of the first fitness questions most moms have soon after delivery is how to get rid of post-pregnancy belly. Do remember that you need to give yourself time to heal first. Your body is working extra-hard the first few weeks after delivery and you will also experience postpartum bleeding for many weeks after. Strenuous exercises during this period can do more harm than good. If you had a vaginal delivery, this may take a month and if you had a c-section, it might be 6-8 weeks. Walking is the perfect post c-section exercise as it is gentle and effective at the same time. You can start with taking gentle walks as soon as your stitches heal, however, you should check with your gynecologist or obstetrician for the green signal first. As you get stronger, you can increase the duration of your walks and, eventually, even take your baby with you on a stroller!
2. Do regular kegels
Pregnancy and labour can take a toll on your core muscles and pelvic floor. Any postpartum exercise plan must start with firming those pelvic muscles first as weak pelvic muscles can cause incontinence.
Kegels are a pelvic muscle strengthening exercise you can do anywhere without anyone even knowing. You can start it as soon after delivery as you like, provided there is no pain when you’re doing it. To do kegels, all you need to do is tighten your muscles as though you are stopping the flow of urine and hold for 10 seconds. Do this 5 times a day, with 20 kegels in each session.
3. Pelvic tilts
How do you get rid of post-pregnancy belly? The answer is by adding pelvic tilts to your postpartum exercise plan. If you have had a normal delivery, you can start this exercise even a week after your baby is born. Working your muscles from the inside out is the secret to postpartum belly reduction. Crunches are a popular ab strengthening exercise, but they work from the outside and should be avoided in your post c-section exercise routine. They will only make the stomach pouch that comes with a caesarian more prominent.
To do pelvic tilts, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground and a towel below your hips. Keep your arms straight along your side. Now tighten your stomach muscles and breathe. Imagine pulling your belly button towards your navel and hold. Breathe out and get back to the start position. You can start with at least 10 reps and slowly work your way up to 20.
4. Pelvic bridge
6 weeks after delivery, you should be ready to up the ante. Your pelvic tilt can now progress to a pelvic bridge. Continue the same steps as the pelvic tilt but now also tighten your gluteus muscles (those muscles in your derriere) and your hip muscles. Now raise your pelvis, keeping your feet flat on the ground, hold for 5 seconds. Go back to starting position and begin again. Repeat 5 times and go up to 20 as you get stronger. This works on the belly muscles and strengthens the lower back, making it the perfect post c-section exercise.
5. Heel Slides
Heel slides is another postpartum exercise you must do to strengthen your core. If your core is strong then getting a flat tummy becomes easier. The core muscles include the diaphragm, transverse abdominal muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. Heel slides are quite gentle and should be part of your c section exercise plan.
To do a heel slide, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet wide apart. Draw your abdominal muscles in by inhaling. Then, push one leg flat, keeping the other knee bent. In this position, you should feel your core muscles stretching. Keep still for a few seconds and then pull the leg back to starting position. Now repeat the same with the other leg. Do 5 slides for each side, working up to 10.
6. Towel pulse
You can add this exercise to your postpartum exercise regimen if you are looking for something that is simple, but very effective. Once again, lie on the floor, face upwards and knees bent with feet close together. Put a towel around your shins and hold each end. Now inhale and squeeze your abdominal muscles. Using the support of the towel, lift your shoulders off the floor. The towel gives you the support you need while still working your core muscles. Start with 5 and work up to 20 repetitions.
7. Breastfeeding might burn calories
The belief that breastfeeding can get new moms back in shape is one of the most common breastfeeding myths to ignore. However, while it can’t get you toned, it can help you burn calories. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight because it burns up your metabolic resources. For improved strength and a supple body, you will still need postpartum exercise for belly reduction and muscle toning to lose the flab.
If you are breastfeeding, you will have to make sure you nurse your baby before any strenuous workout. Heavy breasts can hinder your workout and limit your range of motion. Your baby might also complain as the milk tastes different immediately after exercising. This is because of the high content of lactic acid that exercise produces. This difference in taste lasts only for a while after exercising and will reduce to normal levels soon.
8. Be careful not to strain your joints
Relaxin is the hormone that relaxes your muscles and joints to allow your baby to be pushed out. It remains in your body for up to 6 months and its effects can be felt for a long while after. Your joints, particularly in your knees are going to be shaky soon after delivery. The muscles of your pelvis, as well as those in your back, will complain if you put too much strain on them. So any postpartum exercise for belly reduction must not include any jerky movements.
9. Go swimming
If you are a swimmer, then this favourite pastime will soon become your go-to postpartum exercise routine. Swimming is one of the best postpartum exercises. It is great for strengthening your core and back muscles, while still being gentle on your joints. Once you stop bleeding or your scars from a c-section have healed, you should be ready to get into the pool. If you don’t know how to swim, you can still join an aqua aerobics class. It is very effective in toning up your muscles without any extra strain.
Every woman’s body responds differently to exercise and that is perfectly fine. Your body has been through a miracle, so you should wear that badge of honour with pride! For expert advice on postpartum health and nutrition, download the mfine app and book a consultation with top doctors from your city!