Congratulations! You’ve just had a baby, you managed to go through the whole ordeal, you’re back at home with you child… so what now?
After being pregnant for nine months, most women are really anxious about getting back to their normal workout routine.
Of course, going back to your regular routine is quite important, seeing how almost one-third of first-time mother who have normal BMI become overweight just a year after giving birth, according to a 2014 study published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal.
However, you still have to be careful, because according to researchers from the University of Adelaide, a hormone called relaxin loosens the ligaments that hold your pelvic muscles and bones during pregnancy. So naturally, doing too much too soon can lead to some complications.
When Should You Start Exercising?
Although you often hear stories about women like Amy O’Connell, who managed to run a half-marathon just six weeks after her giving birth, it doesn’t mean you should start working out as soon as arrive home from the hospital. So is there a magic number? Well, it depends…
But we have to make one thing clear – before you start exercising in any way, shape or form, you should talk to your doctor – especially if you weren’t too active during your pregnancy. Just make sure to visit a women’s health specialist, and don’t worry if you haven’t visited one, you can easily find a provider at APTA’s official website.
Nonetheless, in most cases, you should wait at least six weeks after the childbirth to start working out. And even if you wait a little longer, you should still start slow and work-up to your pre-pregnancy level. If you start before week six, you should do some light abdominal exercises to “wake your muscles up.”
Post-Pregnancy Workout Routine
After your doctor gives you the green light, it’s time to start working out. Now, you’re probably going to feel too stressed to workout, because you need at least two months to adept to a completely new schedule, not mention all of those diaper changes and midnight feedings.
What’s more, even if you change your diet, and cut back on calories, you still might not lose too much weight during this period. You see, research has shown that stress can actually prevent you from all of those extra pounds. And that’s why you need to gather your strength and start exercising.
In reality, exercise is the best stress-buster. Getting some type of exercise will allow you to feel active and alive again. Not to mention, it will lower your risk of postpartum depression. So grab some fresh fitness clothing take a deep breath and let’s get started…
· Exercise #1: Walking Lounges
You should start your routine with Walking Lounges, targeting your legs and buttocks. Just put your hands on your hops and stand with your feet together. Afterwards, take a step forward and bend so both of your knees at approximately 90 degrees. Then push through the heel of leg in front of you and get back in the standing position. Do at least three sets of ten repetitions with both legs.
· Exercise #2: Modified Squat Thrust
This exercise will also target your legs and buttocks but will also include your abdominal muscles. Start by lowering your body into squat position, with both hands touching the floor in front of your feet. Then step both of your legs back as quickly as you can, so that you’re in the pushup position. And then, without pausing, return to the original position. Do at least three sets of five repetitions.
· Exercise #3: Kegels
To prepare for this exercise, simply sit on a bench with your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. Then, start contracting your pelvis muscles like you’re trying stop from urinating and stand. Hold the Kegel, return to the bench and then release. In the beginning you should do two or three sets of Kegels with ten or twenty repetitions.
· Exercise #4: Forearm Planks
Now, this is an important exercise, because getting your core muscles into their original from will help your body bounce back a lot quicker. Both Regular and Side Planks are a great way to work your core without putting too much pressure on your back and neck muscles. To do this exercise, just get into the plank position, with your legs extended, abs engaged and forearms on the floor and hold the position for thirty seconds. You should complete a repetition of five planks each time you work out.
· Exercise #5: Floor Bridges
Last but not least, we have Floor Bridges, which will allow you to work on your legs and hamstrings a bit. Just lie back on the floor with bent knees, flat feet and arms by your sides. Then, engage your core muscles and start lifting off your body from the ground while pressing your heels into the ground. Hold that position for three or five seconds and the return to the floor slowly. Do two sets of ten repetitions.
When you get back to working out, you have to accept your physical symptoms as the new normal. We’re talking about things such as back and pelvis pain here and there, urinary inconsistences and generally feeling disconnected from your body.
The bottom line is this – getting back in shape takes time, focus and dedication. In reality, you can’t expect overnight miracles. However, that’s not the point.
Post-pregnancy workout isn’t just about getting your abs back – it’s actually about building a strong and deep core and gaining a new appreciation for your body. And as we said before, you should definitely start out slowly. For starters, even small things like short walks in the park will do the trick.
According to a 2010 study published in Environmental Science and Technology, even five minutes daily spent outdoors can decrease your stress hormone levels and increase your self-esteem.
Lastly, if the exercises we listed above make you feel exhausted, you should definitely scale back for a couple of weeks before you gain enough strength.