New-moms experience a shift in focus from the self to the baby. This is understandable although it may make new moms neglect their own health and fitness which may lead to postpartum depression, low self-esteem and even resentment. That is why it is crucial to get fit again and lose the baby bulge soon. But how soon is too soon? Getting your pre-pregnant fitness level and shape back takes proper timing, healthy caloric intake and appropriate postpartum exercise.
Losing weight and engaging in heavy exercises are not recommended immediately after birth because it might potentially cause serious injury. The body requires time to gain its pre-pregnancy fluid volumes and hormone levels. For instance, the joint-loosening hormone relaxin remains elevated in the blood which is why strenuous exercises like running, cycling, and weight lifting are discouraged for the first six to eight weeks. Some internal and external wounds sustained from childbirth also need to heal properly to prevent complications.
This also means that a mental change is in order. Diana Archer-Mills, creative director at Les Mills touches upon the subject of postpartum exercise: “This part you’re going to like the least. Remember that old body, the tight flat stomach, the taut smooth skin? That is not you anymore. You carried another human being around inside of you. Things have changed. But not for the worse.” This is a harsh truth of the postpartum return to fitness, but there are ways to make it easier.
Do not decrease your caloric intake immediately after birth because your body needs the calories to heal itself. Your body also needs the added calories to make enough milk to feed your newborn. Instead of drastic dieting, opt for eating the right amount of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sticking to small frequent feedings will also help increase your body’s metabolism and get rid of the hunger pangs which lead to binge eating. Healthy calories obtained from a proper diet also fuel your body for exercising your way back into shape.
Experts from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that among the easiest ways of kick-starting a post-pregnancy workout regimen is through walking. They also suggested beginning with what you used to do in the 3rd trimester. If you’re ready for a more intense workout, gradually introduce exercises you did during the 2nd trimester, then add your 1st trimester exercises until you’re back to you pre-pregnancy fitness level.
Most post-pregnancy exercises aim to strengthen the core muscles which took the biggest blow during pregnancy and are often neglected post-pregnancy. Below are great exercise suggestions for every kind of new-mom who wants to get fit again:
Kegels is great for tightening the pelvic floor muscles which were affected during childbirth. Your abs was also most affected by pregnancy and it, along with the legs, would benefit from doing crunch beat. To get back your hamstrings and butt, do floor bridges.
Forearm plank works best for the abs, obliques, thighs, and butt. Also for toning the butt and the hamstring is the hamstring curl. Getting defined abs, butt and legs is possible with the the modified squat thrust.
For shredded shoulders, chest, and abs, the classic push-up will do. Wide-stance deadlifts are the choice for toning the lower back, butt, and legs. Walking lunges are great for the butt and legs, too.
There are various fitness classes that make for a great post-pregnancy workout without putting too much pressure on your joints. Yoga-based fitness classes may help strengthen your entire body. Yoga can also help in lowering anxiety levels and combat postpartum depression. There is a long list of fitness classes available for new moms to embark on. Again, before doing so, always check with your doctor. Watch out for warning signs during any activity and call your doctor if you experience any of the following: profuse bleeding, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, fatigue after even the mildest exercise, or muscle soreness that won’t resolve in a day.