You should be just out of the labor room. Are you already checking out the nearest postnatal classes in town? It is natural for you to feel the need of getting back to shape once you have delivered. But make sure you are fully ready for this by reading more about postnatal exercises.
What Are Postpartum Exercises?
Exercises which specifically cater to women after delivery refer to postnatal exercises. They try to restore maximum overall health after delivery by concentrating on pelvic floor toning. Enough emphasis is given to the abdominal muscles, posture realignment, strengthening of the upper back as well as lower extremities. It will help to increase strength and circulation. (1)
Practicing Exercise After Cesarean:
It is equally important for women after their C-section to get back to their fitness regime after childbirth. Breathing exercises will be the first on the list of physical rehabilitation steps for these women. It will help the lungs to ventilate totally and then proceed to other forms of physical conditioning. A physical therapist can help in correcting the posture which will keep at bay the most common problem of backache. Your daily activities will have to be in tune with the body mechanics advised by your health instructor. Take care to distribute the weight evenly in the body. (2)
Benefits Of Postnatal Exercises:
Check out doing exercise after pregnancy can help you in becoming fit as a fiddle after that intensive labor.
1. Postnatal pelvic floor exercises can reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence.
2. Results indicate women who find pleasure in doing post birth exercises are less likely to develop from baby blues and postpartum depression.It helps improve posture.
3. One of the best ways to lose your pregnancy weight-gain, exercises after pregnancy helps to regain your body tone and figure.
4. Specified exercises help strengthen abdominal muscles and pelvic floor.
5. It increases energy levels and blood circulation.
6. They help in healing traumatized tissues and boosts mental health.
When To Exercise After Delivery?
You will not be encouraged to exercise before the first postnatal examination at six weeks. However, you can continue with your gentle exercises suggested by the obstetric physiotherapist soon after delivery. You should stay away from floor exercises until it is confirmed that there is no incidence of separation of abdominal muscles.For at least six months’ time, avoid sit ups and stomach crunches and lifting both legs straight upwards. (3)
Complications Of Exercising In Immediate Postnatal Period:
If you are in a hurry to join one of those fitness classes soon after delivery, experts say don’t rush. There are number of health pointers which indicate you are not fully healed to move your body. If you suffer from any of the following disorders, wait until you are fully recovered to start exercising.
- Mastitis- The inflammation of the breast tissue refers to mastitis. Women are not advised to do exercise if they suffer from Mastitis and has to consult a doctor immediately.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- A compression of the median nerve in the wrist due to fluid retention is Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Common in the breastfeeding, it would be better for women with CTS to return to exercises after weaning.
- Diastasis Recti- A separation of the recti sheaths in the late pregnancy due to the weight of the abdomen is diastasis recti. If you have this disorder, it will be tough for you to do sit ups, and you may even develop backache due to the excessive pressure on vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
- Infection- The stitches in both normal delivery and cesarean can have infections. It is better to avoid doing exercises if you have an infection as it is likely that the incision sites misalign.
[ Read: Kegel Exercises After Birth ]
Sample Postnatal Exercise Regime:
Here are few postnatal exercises you can try at home. You can combine it with some other exercises you learn from your fitness class for a wholesome experience.
1. Pelvic floor toning- Contract the lower muscles for 5 seconds and repeat this ten times.
2. Pelvic tilt exercises- Lie flat on the back and bend your knees. Hold the stomach in for some time and then release. Repeat this for ten times.
3. Knee drop- Hold your knees together and lie on the back. Drop the knees side to side, allowing the hips to come up. With shoulders remaining flat turn the head in the opposite direction of the knees. Repeat this for ten times.
4. Single knee to chest- Lie on the back and tilt the pelvis to pull one knee to the chest. Lift your head and return to a flat position. Now slowly release the knee and repeat the same on the other leg.
5. Ankle pumps- Sit straight with legs stretched out. Now pump the ankles up and down together for ten times. Now circle both the feet together ten times in one direction and ten times in the other.
6. Cat exercise- Position yourself on your hands and knees with the head dropped down. Slowly raise the backup and return to neutral.
7. Curl up- Lie on the back and tilt the pelvis. With arms stretched out straight, bend the knees by lifting the head, shoulders and chest up to 45 degrees. Breathe out as the head lifts. Repeat this for 20 times.
8. Modified Budha- Sit back on the knee and heels. Lean forward with arms extended, and arms stretched. Drop the head down. Hold in this position for 10 seconds and return to knee sitting position.
9. Head retraction- While sitting, place the hand on the chin. Pull the chin in and swallow. Repeat five times.
10. Neck stretches- Sitting comfortably, stretch the neck side to side, holding for 5 seconds each way. Also, rotate neck left and right holding 5 seconds each way, up and down. Repeat the series for five times. (4)
You should always talk to your doctor before starting any form of exercises after delivery.If you were not into any fitness regime before and during pregnancy, take enough care while joining your postnatal exercise class.You should first start with low-intensity levels before advancing to the higher levels of exercises. Similarly, there are some other precautions; you need to keep in mind while indulging in post pregnancy exercises.
- Regular exercises of at least three times a week is acceptable for intermittent activity.
- If you are sick or the climate is hot and humid, stay away from exercising after pregnancy.
- All vigorous form of exercises should precede a 5-minute warm-up session. Similarly, as you stop such exercises, follow it with some declining activities like stationary stretching.
- It is good to keep ballistic movements aside for the future. Likewise, deep flexion and extension of joints can also be avoided.
- Don’t let the heart beat so fast that you gasp for breath. Bring down your intensity of exercises when you experience lot of tiredness.
- Gradually raise your legs from the floor to avoid developing orthostatic hypotension.
- Drink water or fruit juices before and after exercises. You may even hydrate yourself during the exercise if you are getting dry.(5)
Now, bid adieu to the baby fat through some postpartum exercises. Tell us when did you join your fitness class after delivery? We would like to know more.
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