You carried and birthed a little human – you should be considered a Superhero!! And whether this is your first, second or third trip around the postpartum block, chances are your body feels a lot different than your pre-pregnancy old self. The postpartum period affects every woman differently. Some women bounce back more quickly than others. Whatever your scenario is perfectly okay!
Your body has gone through a lot since you first got pregnant – that’s putting it mildly. And to think, abdominal muscles loosened and stretched to accommodate your baby, and can stay that way for up to 6 months after. Your joints also loosen up before labour and may stat way for up to a year after. But if you’re eager to get moving, you are probably wondering when it would be safe to turn to exercise and what types of workouts are best. Your pregnancy, type of birth and any complications during delivery play a key role determining when you can start exercising and what type of workouts you are capable of doing.
Long story short your muscles especially your abs are considerably weaker than they were when you first got pregnant. In spite of your eagerness to “get back to normal,” please talk to your doctor before embarking on any sort of exercise program and ease into it at your own pace.
We’ve listed 10 mommy and baby approved exercises for you to try. These won’t just strengthen your muscles but improve your mood and increase overall health. You will feel great and comfortable in your “new” mombod!
But First – Pay attention & listen to your body
So, you are mentally ready to get into an exercise routine and get your pre-baby bod back, and that’s great. But it’s more important to listen to your body than to take on too much, too soon. Remember, the postpartum period is a time of healing and to be kind to yourself and ease into exercise.
Make a it a point to check in with your body during exercise and ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel?
- Does anything hurt?
- Does this workout make you feel good and energized or ready for a nap?
Take notes after each workout — at least in the early stages. By doing this, you can see any patterns or areas of concern that you may need to share with your doctor.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Discomfort in your pelvic region
If exercise is causing you pain or bleeding, talk with your doctor right away. Your doctor may recommend modifications such as decreasing the intensity and duration of the activity.
Signs that you’re doing too much:
- Feeling exhausted instead of energized
- Prolonged soreness in your muscles
- Shaky muscles
If you experience any of these symptoms, take a break from exercising and rest and discuss your workout routine with your doctor.
Why is post-pregnancy exercise good for you?
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood, strengthen and tone muscles, and increase overall health. But during the postpartum period specifically, fitness has the potential to:
- strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
- boost your energy
- promote better sleep
- relieve stress
- help you lose any extra “baby weight” you gained
While it doesn’t officially classify as a cardio workout, it is great for toning and tightening your muscles all over the body. They are great for muscular endurance too because they require you to use your core, hip and glute muscles. However, due to the amount of strain involved, you should discuss it with your doctor first and avoid doing it too soon after birth.
Once your body is ready, the great thing about planking is that it can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any equipment.
Take out that brand new stroller and enjoy the fresh air with baby around the neighborhood. Yes, this seems too easy, but brisk walking is very effective. You can do it anywhere, at any time, even if it’s just walking a few laps around your living room.
If you have someone to look after your baby, you can go for yoga classes which will allow you for some much-needed time out of the house. If not, Yoga is also something you can do by yourself, at home, with baby close by. Yoga is a great postpartum exercise. It combines breathing, strength, relaxation and focus exercise. Start with gentle stretches and work your way up to more challenging poses.
4. Light Weight Training
Start with small weights if you want to do strength training, and place emphasis on the control of your movements. You can slowly but surely increase the size of the weights. Remember to take it easy—very easy—especially when you’re just starting out post-baby and don’t overdo it.
This is something you can do as little of or as much of as you’d like. It exercises a whole range of muscles in the body, but without any strain on the body or joints. Making it an amazing activity and a perfect choice for your postpartum exercise. On top of exercising all of the muscle groups, it can also be a good cardio workout once you step up the pace. You decide your level of effort and can take it easy one day at a time.
It’s great for postpartum ab workouts, and like yoga, it can be done in the comfort of your home. You might need to hold off on Pilates and stick to Yoga at first though – Depending on the amount of damage done to your body during childbirth or it very easy and only do gentle Pilates routines at first.
7. Light Cardio
Doing light aerobic exercises is great for getting in shape after childbirth. Like swimming, it provides a workout that involves all major muscle groups, as well as a heart and lung workout. Keep in mind that cardio does involve some impact on the joints though. Take it easy and don’t push yourself too hard and end up affecting your body’s ability to heal itself.
8. Pelvic Tilts
A great way to flex and tighten the tummy muscles. Like most postpartum exercises, you can do pelvic tilts pretty much anywhere. Make sure any incisions have had time to heal before attempting Pelvic Tilts, you wouldn’t want to accidentally rip a stitch or something. Ask your doctor if you are unsure about the right time to start with this type of exercise.
9. Abdominal Bracing and Kegels
This is great to begin repairing your pelvic floor. So, whatever type of postpartum exercises you decide on, always include Kegel exercises. They help work all those muscles deep within your core and increases overall core strength. It’s quite simple. You’re literally just contracting your stomach muscles and then releasing them in repetitions as you breathe deeply.
10. Workouts for Baby and Mom
We know it can be hard to find time away from your baby in the early months, Try these exercises that you can do with your baby. Take caution when completing them. (Make sure you’re fit enough, and have a good enough sense of balance, to assure your and your baby’s safety – Practice with a doll or rolled up towel first)
- The baby glider: Holding your baby close to your chest, do a forward lunge with your left leg Don’t let your toes go past your knee. Then return to starting position and lunge with the opposite leg. This will help strengthen your legs, back muscles, and core. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
- The baby bouncer: This move is similar to the baby glider, but instead of forward lunges, do side lunges — stepping to the side instead of to the front — and do a squat. Repeat 8-10 times to each side.
- Rock-a-baby squats and curls: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Holding your baby tight and close to your chest, squat down, allowing your baby’s feet to touch the floor. As you rise up, bring the baby closer to your chest. Repeat 15 times. (You should do this exercise only when your baby is at least 10 to 12 weeks old)
There are many postpartum exercises you, as a new mommy, can do to get back in shape, depending on your health, tastes and fitness level. Just remember—take it slow and when in doubt, consult your doctor.
Have you heard of Belly Bandit? Not only do they have excellent products available for pre- and post-pregnancy, but they are available at The O-Babystore too. Some products come to your rescue with targeted compression to help reduce swelling in your stomach area after delivery and some to hold your belly while still pregnant. There is a product available for any type of pre- or post-pregnancy scenario. Find the awesome Belly Bandit products here.
While you’re at it, check out our Just for Mom category and spoil yourself – You deserve it!!