What Exercise Can I Do After Pregnancy – A Guide To Post-Partum Exercise

By | Last updated: April 10, 2016

What exercise can I do after pregnancy? This is a common question from new mothers that want to get into shape after their child is born but there are so many guidelines from medical professionals that doing any exercise at all can sound scary.

Exercise from the first day after giving birth

This guide will look at the types of exercises that new mothers can try out, from the simple moves that can be done straight away to the more complex forms that should be left until the body has recovered, as well as the benefits in doing so and the things to avoid.

This guide will look at the types of exercises that new mothers can try out, from the simple moves that can be done straight away to the more complex forms that should be left until the body has recovered, as well as the benefits in doing so and the things to avoid.

Why Should You Exercise After Pregnancy?

It is easy to get caught up on the reasons not to exercise, which are mentioned below, but it is just as important to remember why you should be doing some movements and exercises.

Exercising after pregnancy will help you lose those pregnancy pounds but, more importantly, it can aid your recovery from childbirth and even prevent against post-partum depression.

Exercising after pregnancy will help you lose those pregnancy pounds but, more importantly, it can aid your recovery from childbirth and even prevent against post-partum depression.

What Are the Risks?

The usual advice is not to do too much exercise until the six-week mark after the delivery because this when you will receive your postnatal check-up and can be sure that your body is healing nicely and you are in no danger.

This is especially true for anyone that had a C-section or complications during labour as the recovery time could be longer.

If you want to stay safe and wait six weeks then this is completely fine but some more active, healthier mothers may want to start sooner.

As long as you are cleared to do so, you can start with some gentle exercises pretty soon after birth but just be aware of the exercises to avoid.

What Exercise Should Be Avoided?

There are two important things to remember about your body when thinking about a new post-pregnancy exercise routine: firstly, your muscles, especially those in the pelvic floor, have been weakened and need time to recover; secondly, your hormones are still having an effect and can still cause weaknesses in the joints for months after birth so it is best to keep all exercise low-impact.

This means no intensive aerobic sessions, push-ups and crunches for the first couple of months.

Another form of exercise to avoid at first is swimming.

It may seem ideal because it has little impact on the joints and is relaxing but the water can cause infections in those recovering from caesareans and postnatal bleeding.

Strengthening The Pelvic Floor

The first piece of advice that new mothers should adopt when considering getting back into shape is to work on the pelvic floor first; this area has been been under a lot of strain and is weakened from childbirth but strengthening it can aid bladder control and provide a safety net for other aerobic exercise.

The best action here is to do some Kegel exercises, contracting the pelvic muscles and releasing to add tone. Some suggest doing this from a seated to a standing position for greater movement and blood flow.

The best action here is to do some Kegel exercises, contracting the pelvic muscles and releasing to add tone. In fact some authors recommend to practice Kegel exercises during pregnancy as well. (See this article about week 11 pregnancy).

Some suggest doing this from a seated to a standing position for greater movement and blood flow.

Taking Your Baby Around the Neighbourhood

Once you start to feel more comfortable and secure, make the most of taking your newborn out around the neighbourhood

Walking is a form of exercise that is often underrated for anybody looking to get fitter and it is the ideal method of post-partum exercise because of the simplicity of the movements and the way the walks can be altered to suit your energy levels and goals.

The pace and length is entirely up to you – it can be a short as a ten minute stroll to the local shop or a longer, brisker walk around a local park – and you can build upon your success as you get stronger.

Walking is proven to aid recovery times and prevent clots but the time outside with your child can also have a great psychological benefit.

Taking a Class

If you are really keen to get fit and are far enough into your post-partum recovery to push the exercise a little further, you could take a class
Smiling beautiful pregnant woman sitting on floor and relaxing after exercisingExercise classes come in all different shapes and sizes in order to appeal to a variety of people of different abilities and post-partum classes are quite common in many gyms and community centres.

These classes are specially tailored to suit the abilities and fitness needs or new mothers and provide the low-impact movements and stretches that can really help.

Aerobics are a popular option but yoga is also highly recommended because the poses can be easily modified and some, such as planks and bridges, can be performed at home quite soon after pregnancy as well, provided you are medically cleared to do so of course.

There are a number of different options when it comes to exercising after pregnancy and even though there are plenty of warnings about not pushing yourself too far and following medical advice, you do not have to be strictly bound to a certain class or to your own living room.

Your own home may be more comforting at first but there is no reason why you cannot exercise safely in the local area or a favourite spot as long as your are careful.

The added benefit of choosing a class with other mothers, however, is the social experience that it brings.

There are plenty of options in post-partum classes and the benefits of gentle toning and walking cannot be overstated.

Check with doctors and midwives before starting any routine, keep it simple and gradual, listen to the body and be kind on yourself. The body can gently recover in time with Kegels, walks and low impact classes and you can enjoy the other benefits over time with other mothers; however, the most important thing of all is to go at your own pace and not to risk further damage.

Sandra Sandoval

About Sandra Sandoval

-Full time mother of two crazy kids in Baltimore -Graduated (BA) in psychology -Writes for a variety of blogs, websites and print publications

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