Postpartum Workout: Top 10 Exercises To Do After Pregnancy
After giving birth, many women are eager to get back into shape and regain their pre-pregnancy fitness levels. Postpartum workouts not only help promote weight loss and improve cardiovascular fitness but also offer numerous mental health benefits such as relieving stress and reducing symptoms of postpartum depression (Mayo Clinic).
Before diving into a workout routine, new moms need to consult their healthcare providers to ensure they’re ready for physical activity post-pregnancy. In the early weeks after giving birth, gentle exercises and stretching can be beneficial, with more intense exercises being gradually introduced once a healthcare professional has given the green light (What to Expect).
The Importance of Postpartum Workouts
Postpartum workouts play a crucial role in helping new mothers regain their strength and physical wellbeing after giving birth. These exercises not only contribute to a faster recovery, but also offer various physical and emotional benefits.
One of the primary benefits of postpartum workouts is strengthening and toning the abdominal muscles, which often weaken and stretch during pregnancy. By focusing on exercises that target the core, new mothers can work towards regaining their pre-pregnancy fitness levels and posture stabilization ACOG.
Another advantage of engaging in regular postpartum workouts is the boost in energy levels. New mothers often feel fatigued due to their demanding schedules and sleepless nights. Exercising has been shown to help combat this exhaustion by increasing vigor and improving mood states ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.
Postpartum workouts also offer emotional benefits by enhancing mental acuity and reducing the risk of postpartum depression. Exercising encourages the release of endorphins, which contribute to improved mood states and overall emotional wellbeing ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.
In addition to the physical and emotional benefits, postnatal exercises can also help new mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight more easily. As exercise increases calorie expenditure, engaging in regular workouts, along with a balanced diet, can contribute to a healthy weight loss after pregnancy.
Consulting Your Doctor
Before starting any postpartum workout regimen, it is essential to consult with your doctor or midwife. They can provide guidance on when it’s safe to begin exercising after giving birth, and recommend the appropriate types and intensity of workouts for your specific situation. Moreover, they will consider factors such as your physical condition, delivery method, and recovery process.
Although postpartum workouts can help new mothers regain strength, flexibility, and balance, it is crucial to follow your doctor’s advice to avoid complications or injuries. Every woman’s body is different, and your healthcare provider knows your personal history and needs better than any generic exercise plan.
During your medical consultation, don’t hesitate to ask questions and express your concerns. Your doctor may suggest modifications to certain exercises or advise against some activities based on your individual needs. In some cases, they might recommend seeking the guidance of a professional who specializes in prenatal and postpartum exercise design.
Pay close attention to your body, and if you experience any discomfort, pain or concerning symptoms during workouts, stop immediately and contact your doctor. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health and well-being postpartum.
When to Begin Your Postpartum Workout
Starting your postpartum workout depends on various factors, such as the type of delivery you had, your overall health, and your physical recovery. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and the timeline for resuming exercise may vary.
In general, it is recommended to wait until your milk supply is well-established before starting an exercise routine. This usually takes around a couple of weeks postpartum for most women (source).
If you had a vaginal delivery without complications, you can start with gentle pelvic floor and abdominal exercises one to two days after birth. Be mindful of your body. Take note of any body part experiencing pain (source). For light activities, such as walking, you can begin as soon as you feel comfortable, progressing as tolerated during the first three weeks postpartum (source).
For high-intensity exercises, it is advised to wait until 12 to 16 weeks postpartum to ensure your body is ready to handle the increased strain (source). If you had a cesarean section or other complications, consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate time to resume workouts and which activities are safe for you to engage in.
Postpartum Workout Guidelines
When beginning a postpartum workout routine, it’s essential to ease into the process and listen to your body. Allow yourself to recover from childbirth and gradually build up to more intense exercises.
1. Start Slowly: Begin with gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching, and slowly increase the intensity as your body feels ready. According to Parents.com, it is crucial to start your postpartum workouts slowly.
2. Wait for Bleeding to Stop: It’s advisable to wait until your lochia (postpartum bleeding) has stopped before beginning exercise in earnest. This usually takes around six weeks but may vary for different individuals.
3. Be Cautious if Breastfeeding: Exercise may affect your milk supply, so monitor your breastfeeding experience and adjust your workouts as necessary.
4. Evaluate Your Pelvic Floor: Focus on regaining pelvic floor strength with exercises like Kegels, which can help prevent postpartum incontinence issues. Houston Methodist recommends Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
5. Prioritize Core Strength: Rebuilding abdominal muscles after pregnancy is essential. Consider incorporating exercises like pelvic tilts to target these weakened muscles. The Forbes Postpartum Exercise Guide suggests focusing on aerobic activity and strengthening weakened muscles during pregnancy.
Always remember, individual recovery times vary per person. It’s crucial to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a postpartum exercise routine. They will help you determine when it’s safe to start and provide guidance on the types of exercises that are best suited for your body and recovery process.
10 Effective Postpartum Exercises
Getting back into exercise postpartum can be challenging. You just need the right routine to get your physical strength back and be confident. Here are 10 effective postpartum exercises that focus on major muscle groups and are suitable for new moms.
1. Wall Plank Rotations: This exercise is particularly beneficial for those with diastasis recti or anyone easing back into core work (The Bump). Face the wall while standing. Place your hands on the wall, then lean forward while keeping your body in a straight line.
2. Pelvic Tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Gently tighten your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis upward. Do it for a few seconds before releasing it.
3. Kegels: Tighten and release the pelvic floor muscles, as if you were stopping the flow of urine. Aim for several sets of 10-15 repetitions daily.
4. Bridge: Similar to the pelvic tilt, this exercise targets the glutes and lower back muscles. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart. Push your hips upward, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a few seconds before gently lowering back down.
5. Modified Push-ups: Start on your hands and knees, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your back and neck in a straight line as you slowly lower your chest to the floor. Push back up to the starting position. As you gain strength, move on to full push-ups.
6. Seated Row: Using a resistance band, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop the band around your feet, holding onto the ends. Pull the band towards your chest, engaging your back muscles. Slowly release back to the starting position.
7. Donkey Kicks: On your hands and knees, flex one foot and lift your heel toward the ceiling, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Lower your leg back down, and repeat on the other side.
8. Side Plank: Lie on your side, propping yourself up on one elbow with your legs stacked on top of each other. Slowly lift your hips off the ground, while keeping your body in a straight line. Hold for a few seconds before lowering back down. Repeat on the other side.
9. Squats: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing slightly outwards. Gently bend your knees and slowly lower your hips as though sitting in a chair, then keep your chest lifted and your weight in your heels. Return to standing. Remember to engage your core throughout the movement.
10. Walking: Start with a gentle walk around the block, gradually increasing the pace and distance as you feel comfortable. Walking is a low-impact exercise that provides a full-body workout and helps improve cardiovascular fitness (Verywell Family).
Addressing Common Concerns
When it comes to postpartum workouts, it is normal for new mothers to have some concerns or questions. This section aims to address a few common concerns regarding postpartum workouts.
1. When can I start exercising after giving birth?
Most women can start gentle exercises, like pelvic tilts, a few days after giving birth, as long as they feel comfortable and their healthcare provider approves it (Mayo Clinic). However, it is essential to listen to your body and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you recover.
2. What types of exercises are safe for me?
Some safe postpartum exercises include neck stretches, shoulder presses, bicep curls, squats, lunges, glute bridges, kegels, and abdominal bracing (Verywell Family). Start with low-impact exercises and progress to moderate-intensity workouts as you regain strength.
3. How long should my postpartum workouts last?
Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of daily activity (ACOG). As your strength and endurance go better, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts, depending on your fitness goals and your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
4. How can I fit workouts into my schedule as a new mom?
Although it may be quite a challenge for new moms to squeeze exercising in their schedule, one has to. Some tips for fitting exercise into your schedule include splitting your workout into short sessions throughout the day, walking with your baby in a stroller, incorporating exercises into your daily routines, and seeking support from friends, family, or fitness groups.
Tips for Staying Motivated
Staying motivated to exercise after giving birth can be challenging for new moms. Remember that every little bit counts and that consistency is key. Here are some helpful tips to keep you going during your postpartum workout experience.
1. Put on Your Workout Clothes
Dressing in your workout attire can be a simple yet effective method to boost your motivation. As soon as you put on your workout clothes, you are mentally preparing yourself for exercise. (source)
2. Have a Workout Playlist
Music can be a powerful motivator. Create a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs to play during your workouts. A great playlist will help you stay energized and motivated while exercising. (source)
3. Get Enough Clean Protein
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining energy levels and supporting your body during postpartum recovery. Make sure you’re getting enough clean protein from sources like lean meats, legumes, and dairy products. This can help to prevent fatigue and keep your workouts on track. (source)
4. Use Motivational Mantras
Reciting positive affirmations can help you maintain a positive mindset during your workout sessions. Choose a mantra that resonates with you and say it to yourself while exercising to stay focused and motivated. (source)
5. Start Slowly
Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to return to your pre-pregnancy workout routine. Gradually ease back into exercise by starting with low-impact activities like walking, then progress to more challenging workouts as your body becomes stronger. (source)
6. Connect with Other New Moms
Having a support system for other new moms who are also working to regain their fitness can be incredibly motivating. Share your workout goals and progress with each other, and consider setting up workout dates or joining a postpartum exercise class for added motivation. (source)
The Benefits of Sticking to a Postpartum Workout Routine
Committing to a postpartum workout routine can provide numerous physical and mental benefits for new mothers. One of the main advantages is the strengthening and toning of abdominal muscles, which often become weak and stretched during pregnancy. Exercise can help restore these muscles and improve overall core strength (source).
An effective postpartum workout plan can also boost energy levels, crucial for coping with the increased demands of motherhood, and may help improve mood and reduce the risk of postpartum depression (source). Regularly exercising is known to release endorphins, which can alleviate stress and promote feelings of well-being.
Further benefits of a postpartum workout routine include:
- Supporting the recovery of the pelvic floor muscles (source)
- Promoting better sleep patterns
- Helping in healthy weight management post-pregnancy
Sticking to a consistent exercise program after giving birth can lead to improved physical fitness, overall health, and increased confidence in new mothers. It is essential, however, to approach this regimen gradually and with appropriate guidance, always prioritizing safety and body awareness during the recovery process.
Postpartum workouts play a significant role in helping new mothers regain their strength, improve their mental well-being, and return to pre-pregnancy fitness levels. It is essential to choose appropriate exercises and follow guidelines to ensure a safe and effective fitness routine. Consult with healthcare professionals, such as doctors or physiotherapists, for personalized guidance.
Postnatal exercises offer various benefits, including reducing anxiety and depression, as observed by Koltyn KF and Schultes SS. However, it is crucial to give your body enough time to recover before starting these exercises. Better Health Victoria provides information on when and how to start postnatal workouts, which can be helpful for new mothers.
Postpartum fitness routines should be enjoyable and sustainable. Engaging in a variety of activities, such as cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises, can target different muscle groups and maintain motivation. Encourage social support by joining workout classes or engaging in group fitness activities specifically designed for postpartum women.
In summary, postpartum exercise is an essential aspect of recovery and well-being for new mothers. Mindfully incorporating a fitness routine and seeking professional guidance when needed is vital for a healthy and rewarding fitness journey after childbirth.