Questions on Postpartum Exercise

January 29, 2016 — Leave a comment

Postpartum Exercise

Perhaps you’ve already delivered your bundle of joy.  Perhaps you’re nearing the home stretch of pregnancy.  Or maybe you’re still in the early days, but you’re the ultimate planner.  (I’m a notorious planner, so I get it!)  Whatever your circumstances, you’ve probably begun thinking about postpartum shaping and a post baby exercise plan.  You’re not alone.  We gathered a list of common questions that many moms have and looked to our best sources for answers!

When can I begin exercising?

If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal, uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you should be able to begin light activity as soon as you feel up to it.  However, if you had a cesarean delivery or experienced other complications during pregnancy or birth, you will probably need to wait longer in to allow your body proper time to heal.  Regardless of your situation, you should consult your doctor before beginning to ensure that it is safe for you to begin.

What exercises are best to begin with?

The best things to begin with is pelvic floor exercises.  These exercises improve circulation to the pelvic area, helping the perineum and vagina to heal more quickly.  Stronger pelvic muscles help to protect against urine leaks also.

The next thing to begin doing is light walking.  Take the baby for a walk in his stroller around the neighborhood.  Or, if your postpartum period is during the winter months, stroll around your favorite store or shopping center.  Begin with short walks of around 10 minutes and work up to longer walks.

Once your doc gives you the okay, you can begin to add in other activities like swimming, light to moderate cardio and strengthening exercises.

Will I be able to exercise and breastfeed?

Yes.  Beginning an exercise routine won’t affect your ability to breastfeed, even once you’ve worked your way up to vigorous exercise.  But, it is imperative that you drink plenty of extra water to stay hydrated.  You’ll also want to avoid any activities that cause your breasts to be sore or tender.

What’s the best way to lose weight after giving birth?

Aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate is the best way to lose weight after giving birth.  Running, biking or swimming are all excellent aerobic exercises to help drop the pounds.  You’ll want to wait until you’re at least 6 weeks to 2 months postpartum and have been cleared by a doctor before beginning, however.  Dieting too soon after giving birth can affect energy levels and milk supply, if you’re breastfeeding.

Will these simple postpartum exercises really help me?

Yes!  Exercise is great for most people, postpartum moms included.  Things like pelvic floor exercises and light walking may seem like they are not doing much, but in truth they are.  They are gradually returning your body to safe activity levels, which have many benefits for new moms.  For one, daily exercise improves the quality of sleep.  And since you probably aren’t getting as much sleep as you’re used to, quality sleep is a must.  Daily activity promotes safe weight loss, restores muscle strength and tone, boosts energy levels, relieves stress and helps to prevent and promote recovery from postpartum depression.

What signs should I watch for to know I’ve done too much or other things that I should be aware of?

One big sign to slow down is if your vaginal discharge (lochia) becomes redder and flows more heavily than it had previously.  This probably means you’re doing too much.  Listen to your body’s signals.   Avoid excessive fatigue and stop exercising if you feel any pain.

You should also be aware of your relaxed joints and ligaments.  They’ll still be loose for about three to five months from the relaxin released during pregnancy.  You’ll want to watch your step closely to avoid falling.

Many women experience a condition called diastasis recti during pregnancy, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles as their belly expands.  It will usually take four to eight weeks after birth for this gap to close.  Beginning abdominal exercises before the gap is closed will put you at risk for injury.  If you suspect you are experiencing diastasis recti, or even if you just want to be sure you’re not, have you doctor examine your muscles during your 6 week postpartum exam.

Don’t forget the importance of a little rest after a workout, especially for sleep-deprived new mothers.  A little rest will help you feel replenished.

How much exercise is recommended for postpartum women?

It is recommended that healthy postpartum women get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.  You should try to spread the time out over a full week exercising 20-30 minutes per day.

Can I try exercise classes?

Yes.  In fact, look for classes that are specifically for postpartum women or a low-impact class that focuses on toning and stretching.  Postpartum classes will be designed with activities that are safe and are at appropriate levels for postpartum women.  Check out your local YMCA, recreation center, gym or yoga studio for a list of postpartum classes.

What should I do to prepare for a workout?

Be sure to take time for warm up and cool down, as they are just as important now as always.  Drink plenty of water during and after your workout to maintain good hydration, especially if breastfeeding.  If you are breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to feed your baby or pump milk before your workout to avoid the discomfort of engorgement.  Wear loose fitting and comfortable clothes that you won’t get too hot in.  Wear a comfortable, well-fitting and supportive bra.  You can try a Preggers Nursing Bra for a super soft and supportive bra with easy access for nursing.

Is there anything else that I can do to help shape and support my body during postpartum?

A Preggers Postpartum Support Band will help to support the back and abdomen during pregnancy recovery.  Our Preggers Postpartum Support Band is made of super soft and seamless material and features a form-fitting design allowing it to be worn discreetly under clothes.  The gentle abdominal compression is the perfect way to support the body while it gradually returns to a pre-pregnancy shape and size.

Disclaimer – This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns, conditions, and recommended treatments or exercise.

Note – Answers compiled from the following sources: babycenter.com; babycentre.co.uk; fitpregnancy.com; mayoclinic.org; acog.org.

 

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