When you have your newborn baby snoozing adorably in your arms, the last thing you want to think about is exercise. As a new mom, late night feedings, dozens of diaper changes and hormonal swings can take away your energy and time, making it difficult to think about fitness.
Though postpartum exercise is difficult, we encourage our patients to find time to get active so they can experience better health as a new mom.
Benefits of exercising after pregnancy
Exercise after pregnancy can help you and your body adjust to motherhood in a healthy way. Even light activity, like a 15-minute walk each day can offer moms benefits such as better quality of sleep, lower stress and a higher energy level.
Exercise can also help you lose any extra baby weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet. It can improve your heart health, help you build muscle and start to tone up your abdomen after delivery.
Starting a regular exercise program when your child is an infant lets you start to show your child an example of a healthy, active lifestyle. As your child grows up, they will understand the importance of exercise and develop healthy habits by watching you.
Make a postpartum exercise plan
Before you start any exercise plan, you should speak to your doctor about what is right for your body and health. Every woman will have a different postpartum experience, so you’ll need to create a postpartum exercise plan for your needs.
If you had a normal vaginal delivery, you can likely start becoming active just a few days after giving birth. Talk to your OB/GYN about limitations. Don’t push it; start moving only when you feel your body is ready.
If you had a C-section, you may need more time to heal, around six weeks or more. Ask your doctor about exercise during your post-natal care appointments.
When you are ready for exercise after pregnancy, you attempt to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Incorporate these exercises into your weekly or daily routine to reach your exercise goals:
- Walking is a safe postpartum exercise you can do with your newborn. Head to your favorite park or jogging path with your baby safely secure in a stroller or carrier. If you were a runner before pregnancy, you’ll need to work back up to your normal routine.
- Pelvic and kegel exercises. You can perform these exercises at home to rebuild your pelvic floor muscles, reducing your risk for incontinence or other postpartum complications.
- Postpartum exercise classes. Some gyms, yoga studios and even hospitals offer classes designed for new moms, like Baby Boot Camp or Strollercize. These classes take it easy on your body, while emphasizing rebuilding strength in your abdomen and pelvic muscles.
- Swimming. Swimming is full-body exercise that is good for your joints. Swim at your own pace and slowly add time or distance to your workout.
- Aqua classes. Like swimming, aqua classes allow you to move while putting less stress on your joints and muscles. Try aqua yoga, Zumba or aerobics to find an exercise that works for your body.
If postpartum exercise leads to bleeding, pain or discomfort, you should stop exercising and give your body more time to heal. Pushing yourself too soon can hurt your recovery.
Tips for postpartum exercise
To find the time and energy for postpartum exercise, you’ll need to rely on your support team. You should:
- Schedule time for your partner to care for the baby while you go exercise.
- Find friends who also need to exercise and go to classes or on walks together.
- Incorporate your baby into exercise by attending Baby & Me classes.
- Remember that even just 10 minutes of exercise can make a difference. Try to fit in exercise when and where you can.
If you are worried about exercising after pregnancy, always speak to your trusted OB/GYN for more tips and advice.
For additional support losing weight, you can rely on Weight Loss Programs and Nutrition Counseling from Women’s Care Florida. Our understanding experts can help you develop a personalized plan for postpartum exercise and diet.