Post Pregnancy Exercise: Benefits and Common Mistakes To Avoid
Exercise • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
Congratulations on your new baby! As a new mother, it’s normal to have questions about when to start exercising after pregnancy and what exercises are safe and effective. This article will guide you through the best post-pregnancy exercises and tips for getting fit.
Benefits of Exercise For New Mothers
Post-pregnancy exercise is a safe and effective way to improve physical and mental health after pregnancy. With the right guidance and support, new mothers can safely and effectively incorporate exercise into their daily routine, and experience the many benefits it has to offer.
Strength and Well-Being:
Exercising after pregnancy is an excellent way to help new mothers regain their physical strength and improve their overall health and well-being. During pregnancy, the body undergoes significant changes, and exercise can help to promote recovery and healing.
Better Sleep & Recovery
One of the most significant benefits of post-pregnancy exercise is improved sleep quality. Many new mothers experience sleep disturbances due to the demands of caring for a newborn, and exercise has been shown to help improve sleep patterns. Exercise can also boost energy levels, which can be particularly important for new mothers who may be feeling tired and fatigued.
Lower Risk of Chronic Diseases
Regular exercise can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are more common in individuals who are overweight or obese, and post-pregnancy exercise can help new mothers achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Better Mental Health
Additionally, exercise has been shown to improve mental health and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can help new mothers feel more confident and positive about their bodies and their ability to care for their child.
When Is It Safe To Start Exercising Post Pregnancy?
It is important to prioritise safety when starting an exercise program after normal delivery. By working with a healthcare provider and being mindful of the body’s signals, new mothers can safely and effectively incorporate exercise into their postpartum recovery.
Before starting an exercise program, new mothers need to keep the following things in mind:
Type of Delivery
The timing of when to start exercising after normal delivery can vary based on several factors, including the type of delivery (vaginal or c-section) and individual health status. In general, new mothers are advised to wait until their postpartum check-up with their healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. This usually occurs around six weeks after delivery, but can vary depending on individual circumstances.
During the postpartum check-up, the healthcare provider will assess the mother’s physical health and recovery from childbirth. They will also check for any complications or underlying health conditions that could affect the safety of exercise. Based on this assessment, the healthcare provider can advise on when it is safe to start exercising and what types of exercises are appropriate.
It is important to follow the healthcare provider’s advice and recommendations, as starting exercise too soon after delivery can increase the risk of injury or complications. It is also important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise over time.
In addition to consulting with a healthcare provider, it is also recommended to listen to your body and adjust the exercise program accordingly. New mothers may experience fatigue, pain, or discomfort during exercise, which can be a sign to take a break or modify the activity.
Getting Started With Post Pregnancy Exercise
Starting an exercise routine after pregnancy can be challenging, but it is an important step towards regaining strength, improving health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. By following these tips and being patient with progress, new mothers can safely and effectively incorporate exercise into their postpartum recovery:
Consult with a healthcare provider
It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. They can advise on when it is safe to start and what types of exercises are appropriate, based on individual health status and recovery from delivery.
It is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise over time. This can help prevent injury and ensure sustainable progress. A good starting point is to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Choose activities that you enjoy
Exercise should be enjoyable and sustainable, so it is important to choose activities that you enjoy. This could be anything from brisk walking to swimming to yoga. It can also be helpful to try different activities to find what works best for you.
Incorporate resistance training
Resistance training can help improve muscular strength and endurance, increase bone density, and support weight management. Start with light weights or resistance bands and gradually increase as strength improves.
Make exercise a priority
It can be challenging to find time for exercise with a new baby, but it is important to make it a priority. Schedule exercise into the day and consider exercising with the baby, such as going for a walk with a stroller.
Once the new mother has been given the go-ahead by her doctor, it’s time to start exercising!
Duration and Frequency of Exercise
The recommended duration and frequency of exercise will depend on your individual fitness level and health status. A good starting point is to aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming, most days of the week. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise over time.
Warm-up and Cool-down
It is important to warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards. This can help prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness. A simple warm-up could include walking or gentle stretching. A cool-down could include stretching and deep breathing exercises.
Nutrition and Hydration
Proper nutrition and hydration are important for post-pregnancy recovery and exercise performance. Aim to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated.
Staying Motivated and Committed
Staying motivated and committed to an exercise program can be challenging, especially with a new baby. Take help from family and find an hour a day which you can devote for your exercise and self-care.
Pelvic Exercises Post Pregnancy
Pelvic exercises, also known as Kegels, are essential for post-pregnancy recovery. During pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles can become weakened and stretched, which can lead to urinary incontinence and other complications. Kegels are a simple and effective way to strengthen these muscles.
To do Kegels, start by identifying the pelvic floor muscles. To do this, imagine stopping the flow of urine midstream or tightening the muscles used to prevent passing gas. Once you’ve identified the muscles, contract and hold them for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat this for 10-15 repetitions, several times a day. You can do Kegels while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Back Strengthening Exercises Post Pregnancy
Back pain is common after pregnancy, particularly in the lower back. Back strengthening exercises can help to reduce pain and improve posture.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and press your lower back into the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, several times a day.
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your right arm and left leg, keeping them straight. Hold for a few seconds, then lower and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, several times a day.
Post Pregnancy Tummy Exercises
The abdominal muscles can become stretched and weakened during pregnancy, and may separate during delivery, a condition called diastasis recti. Post-pregnancy tummy exercises can help to tone the muscles and reduce the separation.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slide one heel away from your body, keeping the foot in contact with the floor. Return to starting position and repeat with the other leg. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, several times a day.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and lift your head and shoulders off the floor, squeezing your abdominal muscles. Hold for a few seconds, then lower and repeat for 10-15 repetitions, several times a day.
Exercise to Reduce Hips and Thighs After Pregnancy
After pregnancy, it is common for new mothers to experience increased fat storage in the hips and thighs. Exercises to reduce hips and thighs after pregnancy can help to tone and strengthen these areas.
To perform a glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, several times a day.
Side-Lying Leg Lift
To perform a side lying leg raise, lie on your side with your legs straight and lift your top leg towards the ceiling, keeping it straight. Hold for a few seconds, then lower and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. Repeat on the opposite side.
When is it safe to start high-intensity exercise post-pregnancy?
It is generally safe to start high-intensity exercise after 6-8 weeks post-delivery, but it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any high-intensity exercise program. They can advise on what types of exercises are appropriate based on individual health status and recovery from delivery.
Can post-pregnancy exercise affect milk production?
Post-pregnancy exercise is generally safe and does not affect milk production. However, it is important to stay hydrated and well-nourished to ensure adequate milk production.
How can I find time to exercise with a new baby?
Finding time to exercise with a new baby can be challenging, but it is important to make it a priority. Schedule exercise into the day, consider exercising with the baby, such as going for a walk with a stroller or attending a postnatal fitness class with a childcare option.
Is it safe to do abdominal exercises if I have diastasis recti?
It is generally safe to do abdominal exercises with diastasis recti, but it is important to consult with a healthcare provider or a postnatal fitness specialist before starting any exercise program. They can advise on what types of exercises are appropriate based on individual health status and recovery from delivery.
Can I still exercise if I had a C-section delivery?
It is generally safe to exercise after a C-section delivery, but it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. They can advise on what types of exercises are appropriate based on individual health status and recovery from delivery.
What are some exercises I can do with my baby?
Some exercises you can do with your baby include stroller walking, babywearing workouts, and yoga or Pilates with your baby as a weight or prop.
Should I wear a special support belt during exercise post-pregnancy?
Wearing a special support belt during exercise post-pregnancy can be helpful for providing extra support to the abdominal and pelvic muscles. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider or a postnatal fitness specialist before starting any exercise program.
How long does it usually take to see results from post-pregnancy exercise?
The timeline for seeing results from post-pregnancy exercise will vary based on individual fitness level and health status. Consistent exercise, combined with a balanced diet, can lead to gradual and sustainable progress over time. It is important to be patient with progress and celebrate small achievements along the way.
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