Finally, this is the cherishing time. Your tiny bundle of joy- your baby- is in your hands. After the delivery of the baby and the placenta, your body again experiences physical and emotional changes. The uterus immediately after the delivery of the baby and the placenta, starts to shrink and come to the pre-pregnancy size by the end of the 6 weeks or approximately by 42 days. This is the time to take ample rest and enjoy the motherhood by concentrating on your baby and your health. This is very important period. Don’t be hard with yourself as some women may feel that they are gained too much weight and the body shape is total blast. Don’t over think on it. Your body will lose this extra fat very soon. After delivery you will lose approximately 7-8 kg weight due to delivery of the baby- the amniotic fluid- the placenta and then the breastfeeding will help you to shred the remaining extra kilos.
Postpartum period is not the time for strong, intense exercise or yoga. This is the time to first understand your baby, his/ her feeding schedules- sleeping patterns- temperaments along with your personal health. So before starting any exercise program give sufficient time for yourself to adjust the motherhood. It will help you to build the strength and to achieve the desired goal of fitness level.
Before starting the exercise regimen consult to your gynaecologist first, if she gives you green signal then you can start your exercise under the guidance of trained instructor.
when to start the postnatal exercise program?
According to ACOG guideline if you have normal vaginal delivery then you can start exercise with simple stretching as soon as you feel comfortable. It’s good to start simple exercise after 2 weeks as your episiotomy stitches will heal, your lochea flow or bleeding slows down and you may feel controlled. Also after delivery, you are exhausted due to labor pains and energy utilization, your baby needs your continuous support and nursing, so it is better to take rest and give yourself time for settlement with your baby for at least 2 weeks.
After C- section consult your doctor about the starting of exercise program. It’s better to take rest for 6-8 weeks and then can think about it by taking the permission of your consultant.
What are the benefits of the post delivery exercise?
- It helps in strengthening the body muscles and also tone up the abdominal muscles
- It helps in increasing the stamina and blood circulation of the muscles
- It helps in relieving stress and tension
- It gives some me time for you to nurture yourself
- It helps to boost your confidence and increase your energy level
- Simple stretching with breathing and meditation helps to keep your mind and emotions in a balanced state
What are the simple ways to start exercise after delivery?
As soon as you get the green signal from your doctor, you can start with walk. Walking is the simple yet great way to get yourself back in shape. You can take your baby with you in a stroller. The added advantage of this is that you can keep watch on baby’s need, nurture him/her plus you can burn your calories.
You can start Kegel exercise as soon as possible, it will help to strengthen your pelvic floor and minimizes the chance of urinary incontinence. The simple stretching exercises of hands, legs, shoulder, neck and abdomen are beneficial to begin and to proceed towards the moderate aerobic exercises.
Meditation and relaxation can be started from day first of post delivery. It helps to regulate the hormones and decreases the chances of postpartum emotional ups and down or baby blues.
What kind of exercises are safe after delivery?
- Brisk walking
- Aqua aerobics
- Low impact aerobic workouts
- Light weight training
- Kegel Exercise
Though these are the safe exercises, it is always better to ask about them to your doctor and remember to do them under the guidance of a trained fitness instructor.
Start with warm up- gentle, easy stretching and then slowly move to other strenuous exercises.
In the beginning 15-20 mins per day exercise 4- 5 times in a week is sufficient then gradually reach up to 30 mins per day exercise for 5 times in a week.
The recommended guideline by ACOG is 150 mins per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise for new mother is sufficient. She can divide it as 30 mins per day for 5 days in a week and again the 30 mins can be divided 15 mins of brisk walk twice a day or 10 mins of brisk walk with simple stretching exercise.
Regular aerobic exercise in lactating women has been shown to improve maternal cardiovascular fitness without affecting milk production, composition, or infant growth. Nursing women should consider feeding their infants before exercise in order to avoid exercise discomfort of engorged breast. Nursing women also should ensure adequate hydration before commencing physical activity
What are the tips for the post delivery exercise ?
- To keep yourself cool- wear loose, comfortable clothes
- To avoid any discomfort caused by breast engorgement, wear good supportive and well fitted bra
- To keep yourself hydrated, don’t forget to carry a water bottle with you and sip the water during workout
- Keep yourself active at least 20-30 mins per day
- Feed your baby before exercise to avoid discomfort due to engorgement of the breasts
- Start with slow, gentle movements and then gradually increase the intensity of the workout
- Always start with warm up and end the exercise session with cool down
- Do meditation and relaxation regularly
- Always listen to your body and then do the activities
- Don’t over exert yourself
- Follow the healthy, nutritional diet
Thus first giving yourself ample time to heal physically and settling down comfortably into motherhood with your baby and then starting the exercise regime will increase energy level, sense of well being and lowers postpartum depression.