You will get busier after having a baby as you tend to your baby and their needs. At this time, you may also be thinking about “getting back in shape” and getting rid of your postpartum belly. While pregnancy exercises help improve your body posture and achieve a smooth pregnancy journey, postnatal exercises are equally important. They help speed up recovery and aid with muscle strengthening and toning after labor and delivery (1).
However, because your body is still recovering from the strain of labor and delivery, you should avoid any strenuous exercise for at least up to six weeks. Read this post to learn about the various postnatal workouts and their advantages.
Importance Of Postnatal Exercises
Postnatal exercises are important after childbirth. They not only make your body fit and strong but are also important for your overall well-being.
If you intend on starting a bulk workout, understand that this is not a good idea. It is always ideal to start doing gentler exercises during the first few weeks after the delivery.
- Starting a strength training, understand that this is not a good idea.
- It is always ideal to start doing gentler exercises during the first few weeks after the delivery.
7 Benefits Of Postnatal Exercises
There are multiple benefits of doing postnatal exercises as your body starts to get back to normalcy. The postnatal exercises ideally help in the following ways (1):
- Help enhance your mood by increasing the release of good chemicals. You just had a roller coaster ride with those hormonal shifts. Postnatal exercises will help you regain your actual self.
- Heal your once pregnant body by getting rid of aches and pains.
- Help in weight loss management if pursued along with a balanced diet.
- Replenish your tired body with the vigor and vitality that you need to raise your baby.
- Enhance the stamina levels, helping you to take charge during motherhood.
- Tone your body and make it flexible.
- Reduce the postpartum blues with a healthy mind.
Ideal Exercises After Delivery
You cannot do all kinds of exercises as soon as you deliver.
Your body is still raw, recovering from the stretching and pushing of childbirth. The postnatal exercises are safe for both vaginal and cesarean childbirth. There are three types of postnatal exercises that you can gently start with (2):
1. Lower belly exercises
Your doctor will suggest beginning with light lower belly exercises that do not put extra stress on your abdomen.
- Lower belly exercises work in tandem with your pelvic exercises to give you a more fit body. Doing lower tummy exercises helps lose baby fat in the area.
- Most of the postnatal tummy exercises are based on breathing.
- Inhale and exhale slowly as you hold the breath for a few seconds while holding your pelvic floor muscles.
- Once you have tightened your pelvic area, gently push your belly button upwards and downwards.
- Ensure that you are not moving your back or holding your tummy area too tight.
- At first, these exercises may feel difficult, but you will find yourself accustomed to them soon.
- Consult a trained physical fitness trainer to understand the kind of belly exercises you can start with.
2. Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are very important after pregnancy (3).
- These exercises strengthen your pelvic muscles, helping you avoid urinary incontinence.
- Pelvic exercises aid in quicker healing of your perineum and vagina by improving the blood circulation around that area.
- This reduces the swelling and bruising that would have happened during normal delivery.
Walking is an important exercise regimen that will help you stay fit (4).
- Your doctor would have asked you to start walking within a few hours after delivery.
- This is to avoid forming blood clots in the body.
- Walking also helps you stay fit and agile.
- Start with short walks of about ten minutes and increase the time gradually.
- See what suits you the best, but do not ignore this regime.
Postnatal Exercises To Be Avoided During The First Six Weeks
There are exercises that you possibly cannot engage in right away after delivery. Especially following exercises for the first six weeks are not recommended. You will have to cross the six-month mark to do the below exercises (5):
- Swimming is not recommended as it may lead to infections.
- Certain exercises are not allowed for women who underwent cesarean or stitches during vaginal delivery. Your doctor will recommend gentle exercises.
4 Postnatal Exercises For A Strong Pelvis, Upper Back, And Neck
Here are a few exercises that you can do to strengthen your pelvis, neck and back once you settle down comfortably in your exercise routine. You can take up these postnatal exercises after 6 weeks.
1. Pelvic tilts while lying down
Lie either on the floor or on the bed (5).
- Place a pillow under your head, bend your knees by lifting them.
- Now tighten your pelvic muscles and pull your tummy inwards.
- Hold the position for three seconds before you relax.
- Repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Do not forget to keep breathing throughout the exercise.
2. Pelvic tilts while sitting
Sit on a stool or chair with your feet on the ground (5).
- Tighten your pelvic muscles while pulling your tummy inside.
- Arch your back in such a way that your chest and bottom stick out.
- Hold the position for a few seconds before you relax.
- Do not forget to breathe throughout the exercise.
3. Upper back exercise
Sit upright with arms crossed over your chest. Twist your body to the left and then to the right. Repeat the exercise 10 times in each direction (5).
- Sit and join your palms behind the neck.
- Twist your body to the left and then to the right.
- Repeat the exercise 10 times in each direction.
- Sit and join hands together in the front.
- Raise your arms above your head and stretch as far as you can.
- Hold the position for two to three seconds.
- Release and get back to the position.
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed in a squatting position (5).
- Turn your head slowly to the right and then to your left.
- Rotate your head five times each in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction.
Points To Remember:
It would be difficult to commence an exercise routine after a long hiatus of pregnancy and baby bump. Here are a few points to remember while you undertake the first initiative to wellness with postnatal exercises:
- You will find it exhausting and time-consuming at first, but keep going.
- Do not expect magical results from your postnatal exercises. Your body will take time to respond.
- Do not overdo the exercises once you feel good to go.
- Follow the instructions given by your doctor and your trainer for the exercises during the first six weeks after delivery.
- Do not hit the gym after the six weeks for an aggressive workout consulting your doctor. You must first understand where you stand in terms of physical fitness.
- Do not put pressure on your lower abdomen or lift heavy objects during the first six weeks. This is the time when your pelvic and tummy muscles heal completely.
Postnatal exercises are important because they help tone and strengthen the muscles post-delivery. They also relieve aches and pains, release good hormones, and manage weight. Some exercises that you may try are lower belly exercises, walking, and pelvic tilts. However, since your body is still recovering after childbirth, start with gentle exercises. Do not overdo your workouts to expect quick results. Instead, give your body adequate time and rest and allow it to heal slowly. If you have some medical condition, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regime.
- Postnatal exercise.
- Postnatal exercise.
- Your recovery after childbirth.
- What You Should Know About Exercising After Having a Baby.
- Exercise after birth: the first six weeks