You just had a baby; it’s a time of joy, albeit some stress and lots of sleepless nights too. Be realistic about the return of your pre-pregnancy body. Unfortunately breastfeeding alone won’t melt away the pounds and tone-up the muscles, but with time and commitment to exercise you will get there.
Read tips from our fit mom ambassador, Melanie. Melanie is a Registered Dietitian and mom to three young children, with a fourth on the way currently living in the Pacific Northwest. She is a stay-at-home mom and author of the blog Nutritious Eats nutritiouseats.com where you can find healthy family recipes, fitness tips and more. Her hobbies include photography, recipe developing and anything fitness related. To learn more about Melanie, you can follow her on twitter http://www.twitter/nutritiouseats, Facebook, facebook.com/pages/Nutritious-Eats, Instagram www.instagram.com/nutritiouseats, and Pinterest, pinterest.com/NutritiousEats.
Postpartum exercise is essential to tighten up the perineal and abdominal muscles that have been stretched out and left a little saggy buy pregnancy and delivery. The right kind of exercise will do more than tone you up though. It will help speed up your recovery from labor and delivery, strengthen your back (which can often be strained by carrying baby and/or nursing positions), help tighten-up pregnancy-loosened joints, improve circulation and more. Plus, it has a strong psychological benefit since those feel-good endorphins circulate, helping to improve your mood and your coping ability.
Working out too soon after delivery can do more damage to your body than good. It’s a good idea to wait until your postpartum check up (usually around 6 weeks) to get approval from your Doctor to start back with your exercise program, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything until then.
Rules to follow for the first few months
Consider splitting up your exercise into shorter sessions- this will allow you to fit it in easier and will also be easier on your recovering body.
Don’t push yourself- now is not the time to try to set records or push yourself too hard. You’ll need to wait until after your Doctor has examined you and given you the ok to proceed with your regular exercise program.
Drink plenty of fluids- especially if you are breastfeeding you will need to be sure to replenish the fluid lost during exercise.
Wear comfortable clothing and a supportive bra.
Be prepared for at-home fitness- you won’t be able to take your baby to the gym daycare right away so consider investing in, or borrowing, some good exercise videos to do at home, as well as a durable stroller for outside walks/jogs as weather permits.
Do exercise slower than usual with more rest in between movements.
Set aside time for stretching- between holding your new baby, bending over for diaper changes and breastfeeding, your body is bound to be a little sore and achy.
Monitor your heart rate- your fitness level will most likely not be where it was when you exercising pre-pregnancy so take it slow and pay attention to your body.
With your practitioner’s permission, you can resume a more active exercise schedule, typically after 6 weeks postpartum. You can gradually return to (or begin) walking, swimming, running, biking, yoga, weight training, etc.
It might be a good idea to look into a fitness class where you can bring your new baby along such as Mommy and Me Yoga or Stroller Strides. This will improve accountability and allow you to meet other moms with babies in the same age range.
You might also want to invest in a good baby carrier for times where strollers aren’t an option like hiking on a rocky terrain. The benefits of bringing along baby are endless; you don’t have to stress about when or where to leave your baby when you want to go exercise, you can take a break to feed baby and both enjoy getting out of the house.
Whatever you do, don’t try to do too much too soon but instead listen to your body. With consistency, hard work and healthy eating, you eventually WILL get that pre-baby body back.
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