Exercise After Pregnancy: Things to Keep in Mindby Aimee Brown, PA-C
Billings OB-GYN Associates
Exercising after pregnancy is possibly one of the best things you can do for yourself. It helps promote weight loss, improve cardiovascular fitness and increases your energy level. For new moms, exercise can also help restore muscle strength and tone, relieve stress and boost your mood.
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, it's generally safe to begin exercising as soon as you feel ready. However, if you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program.
Here are 10 tips for exercising after pregnancy:
- Take time to warm up and cool down.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain.
- Include your baby, either in a stroller while you walk or lying next to you on the floor.
- As long as you drink plenty of water, even vigorous exercise won't significantly affect the amount or composition of your breast milk. But try to avoid exercises that make your breasts sore or tender.
- To prevent infection, avoid swimming until you have your postnatal check and have seven days without any postnatal bleeding or discharge. You may need to wait longer if you had a cesarean or stitches.
- Vigorous exercise can put a big strain on your pelvic floor muscles and may cause you to leak urine. Avoid sit-ups or aerobic exercise, such as running, aerobics or tennis, until your pelvic floor has recovered (usually after ~6 weeks postpartum).
- Pregnancy hormones can also affect your joints for up to six months after childbirth. Be careful not to do too much high-impact activity too soon.
- Walking at an easy pace promotes healing and helps prevent blood clots and other complications.
- If you want to take an exercise class, try to find one taught by a postpartum exercise specialist. Many YMCAs, recreation centers, gyms, and yoga studios offer exercise classes for new moms. Or you could always go for a low-impact class that focuses on toning and stretching.
About the Author… Aimee and her husband Michael have four children; Maisee, Emilee, Alex and Ivee. They enjoy spending time outdoors including hiking, skiing and playing as a family. In addition to chasing four children, Aimee enjoys biking, gardening, and photography.
Photo by Ed Yourdon, via Flickr