Okay, you’ve given birth and it’s a healthy baby – congrats! You may want to take it easy and rest (and you really should), but doing some light exercises does have its benefits. You’ll feel more energetic and happier, and your strength and stamina will get a boost!
When can I start exercising after giving birth?
For mummies who’ve done a caesarean birth, you’ll need to wait for at least six weeks for your body to heal and recover – you’ll have a postnatal check-up scheduled after that six week period as well, so you should check with your health care practitioner if you’re able to begin working out.
For mummies who’ve gone through a vaginal birth without complications, and have been exercising consistently before and throughout their pregnancy, they can start out with light exercises after they feel they’re ready to.
However, some things that’re really common amongst mums who’ve just given birth are the aches in their bodies and bones, plus the fatigue that sets in – those are signs that you shouldn’t push yourself while exercising.
Hormones like relaxin that’re produced during pregnancy to help relax ligaments in the pelvis and widen the cervix can last for up to six months in your body. This means that your joints will be a bit weaker for a while, and you shouldn’t do strenuous, high-contact activities or even strength/resistance training.
Even if you’re mentally ready to start exercising again, pay attention to the physical needs of your body too; don’t go too hard while you’re working out.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Exercising Early On
For C-sec mums: REST AND RECOVER for around 6 weeks, and get approval from your healthcare practitioner during your postnatal check-up before you start exercising
For C-sec mums: Pay attention to your c-sec wound and see if it’s healing properly
Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor – these exercises will help your vagina recover faster as it encourages circulation there, which reduces swelling and bruising. Note: for C-sec mums, Kegels are ok to do even while you’re healing from your wounds
Go for light walks – some sunlight and fresh air will help you both physically and mentally and as an added bonus, you can take baby out with you either in a stroller, a sling, or a carrier
Keep yourself hydrated when you’re exercising
Eat enough, with a healthy and well-rounded diet! Don’t worry about losing weight, because as long as you keep to an active exercise schedule and you breastfeed baby, you’ll burn the extra weight that you’ve put on during pregnancy. It’s more important to ensure that your breastmilk is filled with nutrients for baby!
Do heavier or high-intensity exercises for around 5-6 months after you’ve given birth, as you need to let your body recover
Go swimming until after you’ve gone for your postnatal check (which is 6 weeks after birth), as you’re also prone to infection from the swimming pool’s water while your womb is still healing
Overestimate yourself – it’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you’re feeling especially winded or there are weird and painful aches, you should stop exercising immediately and go see your healthcare practitioner
How important is it to lose extra weight after giving birth?
The most important thing to consider when losing weight is if you want more kids. Being overweight could increase the risk of complications in future pregnancies, which includes:
Getting an emergency C-section
High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia
Developing gestational diabetes
A more difficult labour
If you’re not planning on having more kids, keeping your weight under control and staying healthy still has its benefits!
Firstly, you’ll continue to remain healthy as your child grows up – your energy levels will be improved (it gets quite a bit more tiring as they get older), you’ll be reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease too.
Secondly, exercise helps you both physically and mentally. We’ve already talked about the physical parts of exercise, so let’s take a look at the mental benefits.
The mental boost that you get from exercise is partially from being able to take control of yourself (via the level of your fitness). You’ll witness and experience, first-hand, the change that your body’s going through, which is a direct result of your effort and hard work!
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