Pregnancy and delivering a baby are among the most physically demanding strains placed on the human body. Post-pregnancy is a time of celebration, but it is also often a period where post-pregnancy health issues become the focus of a new mom’s life.
Exercise and diet play a key role in post-childbirth recovery. Health issues that may otherwise exacerbate over time can be improved with exercise.
Post-partum exercising can have many benefits. In addition to helping strengthen and tone abdominal muscles, it can boost energy levels. Exercise has also shown to be useful in preventing postpartum depression. Exercise promotes better sleep and it can relieve stress.
How much should I exercise after I have a baby?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that after having a baby, women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This can be broken up into 30-minute workouts, 5 days per week.
What kind of moderate-intensity aerobic activity should I do post-pregnancy?
You should move enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. While exercising, you should be able to talk normally. This type of activity would include brisk walking and riding a bike on a level surface. If you want to work out more strenuously because you did so pre-pregnancy, you should always get approval from your doctor.
Can I do strengthening exercises post-childbirth?
Strengthening is very important not only for your arms and legs, but for you core and pelvic floor. Some great strengthening programs include Yoga, Pilates, Pelacore and weight lifting. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done in addition to your aerobic activity at least 2 days each week.
How soon should I start exercising after having a baby?
If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, you should be able to start exercising again soon after the baby is born. Usually, it is safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth - or as soon as you feel ready, provided your doctor has cleared you for exercise.
If you had a cesarean delivery or other complications, ask your health care provider when it is safe to begin exercising again. No matter when you start, start slowly. So many changes have happened to your body, so don’t expect to start where you last left off. Be patient and give yourself a break. Consider starting with simple postpartum exercises that help strengthen major muscle groups, including abdominal and back muscles and gradually add moderate-intensity exercise. Most importantly, if you experience pain, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
How can I get motivated to exercise after pregnancy?
Don’t worry, it’s common not to be motivated to exercise after having a baby. After all, exhaustion and new responsibilities all kick in at once. Here are some suggestions to get motivated:
- Join a gym or a group exercise class
- Walk outside and push your baby in a stroller or carry your baby in a baby-carrier while doing house work
- Look for “Mommy and Me” postpartum workout classes
- Hire a personal trainer
- Try a fitness DVD or look for online workouts
If you have questions or concerns, always contact your Obstetrician–Gynecologist.