Congratulations! You’ve recently embarked on the journey of motherhood; however, over the past nine months, your new bundle of joy has taken a toll on your body. Pregnancy has stretched, weakened, and overworked your muscles, making you feel too tired to move some days. Nevertheless, there is good news! Returning to physical fitness after having your baby isn’t as difficult as you might think. Research shows that starting a regular exercise program soon after giving birth has numerous health benefits including weight loss, restoring muscle strength and tone, boosting energy levels, and helping to prevent postpartum depression.
Although it is unanimously agreed upon, by health experts around the world, which you should wait six weeks after giving birth before beginning any exercise regime, each pregnancy and delivery are different. Although, it is important to remember, as with all exercise, do not forget to take your time to warm up and cool down. The following are exercises that every new mother can, and should, do:
Benefits: Tones bladder muscles and reduces the risk of urinary incontinence.
Directions: Your aim is to contract the muscles that control the flow of urine. To begin, first, tense those muscles for a count of three and then relax them for a count of three. Do three sets of ten repetitions each.
- Deep Belly Breathing with Abdominal Contraction
Benefits: Relaxes your abdominal muscles and starts the process of strengthening and toning abs and belly.
Directions: Sit up straight and breathe in deeply, drawing air from your diaphragm upwards. Contract and hold your abs while inhaling and relax them while exhaling. Your goal with this exercise is to gradually increase the amount of time you can contract and hold your abs.
- Kneeling Pelvic Tilt
Benefits: Tones and strengthens your abs, and can relieve back pain.
Directions: Begin on all fours with your toes touching the floor behind you, arms straight with your palms on the floor directly below your shoulders. Your back should be straight and relaxed. Pull your buttocks forward as you inhale, tilting your pelvis (hips) and rotating your pubic bone upwards. Hold this position for a count of three and then release. Do three sets of ten repetitions each.
Benefits: Not only does this exercise tone your abs, but it can also help to reduce back pain, improve flexibility, and strengthen the core.
Directions: Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your wrists in line with your elbows. Extend your legs out behind you and push yourself up until you are held up by only your arms and toes. Contract your abs and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe! Do three to five repetitions.
- Half Bridges
Benefits: Strengthens hamstrings and bum.
Directions: Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms by your side. Contract your abs and squeeze your butt as you raise your hips off the floor while pressing your feet into the ground. Kegel at the top of the bridge and hold for three seconds. Return to the ground slowly and release the Kegel. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.
- Shoulder Lifts
Benefits: Strengthens back muscles, tones the tummy, and burns calories.
Directions: Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Keep your lower back stuck to the floor as you bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Raise your head and shoulders slowly off the floor as you exhale, reaching your arms towards your knees. Inhale as you gently lower yourself back down.
- Baby Lunges & Squats
Benefits: During the first few months of pregnancy it can be difficult for you to get time away from your baby to devote a chance to exercise. So these two leg, core, and back strengthening exercises allow you to be close to your newborn and work out at the same time.
Directions: For the lunges, while holding your baby close to your chest, take a big step forward and bend your knee. Make sure to keep your back straight. Return to starting position and lunge with your other leg.
For the squats, while holding your baby tightly and close to your chest, stand with your legs a shoulder-width apart. As you squat down, keep your knees in line with your feet and allow your baby’s feet to touch the ground gently. Return to your starting position. Do three sets of 10 repetitions for each of these exercises.
Note: These two exercises should only be done when your baby is 10 to 12 weeks old.
The key to attaining your desired physical fitness level is consistency. When you’re tired and feel like giving up, remind yourself that you have a wonderful baby to stay strong and healthy for. As an added benefit, health experts at Apollo Hospitals have found that including physical activity in your daily routine allows you to set a good example for your child to follow in the years ahead.