Are you anxious to get back in shape after having a baby? You are not alone. But before you begin to exercise, it is important that you consult your doctor or midwife about the best time to start. This is especially true if you had a Cesarean delivery. Generally, women who had a vaginal delivery can start mild exercises within a few weeks of giving birth.
Make a Plan
Giving birth is stressful for your body so allow yourself time to heal after giving birth and enjoy being a new mum and spending time with your baby. Use this time to also plan your workout schedule. While it may seem overwhelming at first, you will start to notice a pattern in you and your baby’s schedule, so you can set aside time to exercise when the baby is napping or if your partner or family are around to help out.
If you get back into exercise too soon, you can risk a permanent injury. Regardless of how easy or difficult your pregnancy was, your joints and ligaments have been under enormous strain for several months and any rush to begin exercising could cause serious damage.
Regular walking is a great way to build up your cardiovascular fitness. You can do this with your baby and the pram provides resistance to help tone your upper body. You can start with 15–20 minutes of brisk walking. Increase the length of your walk gradually until you can walk briskly for 30–40 minutes. Feel free to split it up into shorter walks if that is more manageable for you. Walking is a great calorie burner, and pushing baby and pram is a super additional resistance for your body, that will feel seamless because of the beautiful bundle of joy that you are pushing along! Brisk walking was certainly the key to getting back in shape for me after each of my 3 boys.
*Target areas, cardio fitness and upper body
Since childbirth can weaken your pelvic muscles and cause problems, such as incontinence, this exercise is a great way to strengthen those muscles again. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your stomach so that you can feel the muscles tighten. Inhale while you gently tighten your stomach muscles and push the arch of your back towards the floor. Squeeze your abs and buttocks and hold the position for 10 seconds. Exhale to release. Repeat 10 times, working your way up to 20 times as your stomach muscles gain strength.
*Target areas are the pelvis, abdominal, buttocks and front of the legs
Lean your back against a wall and walk your feet out in front of you, so you slide down the wall, until your knees are at a 90° angle to your body. Hold the position, keeping your abdominal muscles contracted, for 20–60 seconds. To add intensity, hold light weights in your hands or squeeze a ball between your knees. Repeat three times.
*Target areas, legs and buttocks
Babies get heavy quickly, so now is a good time to build up your upper-body strength. Your baby will enjoy lying near your head and watching you go up and down. Get into the all-fours position, knees bent with your toes tucked under. Place your hands slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. As you inhale, bend your arms, pushing your elbows out to the side, as you lower your chest. Remember to keep your bum and back all in one long neutral line. You should feel the strain in your chest and in your arms. Exhale and push your body back up. Repeat 10 times. Start slowly and build up to three sets of 10.
*Target areas, arms and chest
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