Pregnancy is one of the biggest changes that your body can go through. Not only do pregnancy and childbirth cause loose stomach skin, but there may be several other health concerns. These can include back pain, joint pain, strained abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, and overall weakness. If you are looking to improve your physical health post-pregnancy, experts fully recommend exercising to strengthen your body again .
For more details on suitable cardio equipment for women after pregnancy click here.
Returning to Exercise Post-Pregnancy
Most doctors recommend that you rest and let your body heal for at least 6-8 weeks following childbirth. However, some believe you can return to light exercise as soon as you feel strong enough to do it. It is all about listening to your body and carrying out mild exercise that it can handle. You should eventually work up to 150 minutes of weekly moderate physical activity.
Safe Post-Pregnancy Exercises for New Moms
1. Breathing Exercises
Breathing has a massive effect on how the body operates. Following your pregnancy, breathing exercises can help the core recover. An effective technique is to lie down flat on the floor, with knees raised and feet flat on the ground. Take a slow, deep breath in and feel your abs and pelvic muscles descend. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly exhale and feel the pelvic floor lift and the abdomen come inwards. Practicing up to 10 breaths per day can prepare your body for physical activity.
2. Leg Extensions
This is another simple beginner exercise for new moms. It can help strengthen the lower body. To perform this, lie down with your back flat on the floor and knees bent. Left your legs up and bring knees towards you, until your legs form a 90-degree angle. This will look like a ‘sitting’ posture while lying down. Slowly extend one leg forward until it is straight. Alternate with the other leg. This can be difficult, but the goal is to be able to do this without having to move your spine. Do at least 5 repetitions with each leg.
3. Yoga Stretches
Yoga is excellent for a post-pregnancy body. It helps fix your posture, improves balance, and even has a positive effect on mood and morale. Depending on your body’s strength, you can practice standing, sitting, or lying down postures. Pelvic tilts are particularly beneficial for a postpartum body. Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your abdominal muscles lightly and lift your hip and pelvis off the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to the original position. Repeat at least 5 times.
If you are experiencing back pain, do the cat stretch. Start on your hands and knees, with your back straight. Inhale slowly and curve your spine inwards so that it forms an overturned U shape. Exhale, and bring your lower spine inwards while pushing your hip outwards. Repeat 5 times for relief from lower back pain.
An important note to remember during post-natal stretches is to stretch your body till around 80% capacity only. You can gradually increase this once you get used to stretching. This will protect your muscles from spasming.
4. Light Cardio and Aerobics
It is perfectly safe to do light to moderate cardio exercises after pregnancy. The key is to keep your physical activity moderate and not vigorous. A simple rule of thumb is that your exercise should elevate your heart rate, but you should not be so breathless that you can’t speak coherently. Light exercises can include walking, cycling, and even mild weight training. Join a gym or work out at home with quality fitness equipment from reputable suppliers. Useful equipment like treadmills and stationary bikes can go a long way in helping you become comfortable with your body again.
Once your body is healed and you are not experiencing bleeding anymore, swimming and aqua exercises are extremely beneficial in helping your body recover. Swimming is a full-body workout which also trains your muscles. With the help of an instructor, you can carry our water aerobics like underwater jogging. The water supporting your weight helps especially if you are experiencing joint and ligament weakness following your pregnancy.
How to Firm Loose Skin After Pregnancy
Many women find themselves with loose stomach skin following their pregnancy. This can seriously impact body image and self-confidence. Fortunately, the right lifestyle and fitness routine can help your body recover and return to its regular appearance.
- In the months following your pregnancy, follow a cardio routine at least 3 times a week. This can include brisk walking, jogging, riding a bike, or using cardio gym equipment.
- Strength training can also help firm up loose skin. 2-3 months after giving birth, practice exercises like pushups, squats and situps. Alternatively, you can use light weights to help build your muscles again and make your body firmer.
- Drink plenty of water and eat healthy. It is important to give your body the time to heal. The right diet that focuses on protein and healthy fat intake can aid the recovery process.
Avoid These Post-Pregnancy Exercise Mistakes
You may be eager to help your body return to normal following childbirth, but it is essential to follow the right process to avoid injury.
- Don’t put too much pressure on your abdomen right away. Exercises like planks and pushups should be practiced only after your lower-body muscles have healed.
- Don’t exercise too much too soon. Mild to moderate activity is recommended.
- Focus on core and pelvic floor exercises more than full-body exercises. Your goal at this point should be recovering your muscles and not reducing overall body weight.
- Don’t ignore your form. A weak post-pregnancy body can sometimes force you into poor form while trying to perform an exercise. If you don’t feel strong enough to follow the right form, don’t push yourself too hard.
- Make sure you keep your OB/GYN in the loop and observe the changes the exercise is bringing to your body. If there are any signs of damage, lower the intensity or put off working out until another few weeks.
It is essential to remember that postnatal fitness has to be achieved through a progressive plan. The body needs time to heal. While it definitely has the potential to completely return to its prenatal form, this can take some time and consistent effort.
Ken Zhang, founder of Nirvana Fitness has been involved in the fitness industry for the last 8 years. Ken has a passion for all things fitness with a special interest in power-lifting and strength training. Ken’s passion for weightlifting and bodybuilding extended to supply of gym equipment to both commercial gyms and to the home enthusiast. Ken understands the challenges that face individuals and companies in sourcing the best quality gear at an affordable price. This was the catalyst to start Nirvana Fitness