Birthing a baby is a huge milestone, and it naturally follows that new mothers need to take a break from rigorous activities until they’re fully recovered. But, for how long should you refrain from exercising? The answer to this question may not be a straightforward one as it varies from one woman to another. Nonetheless, this article will guide you on when you can start exercising after birth.
Consult Your Doctor
The first and foremost step you should take before resuming any exercise routine is a consultation with your healthcare provider. New mothers experience different postpartum conditions that require personalized attention. Therefore, your doctor is the best person to advise on the right time to commence exercises.
The Role of Hormones in Postpartum Recovery
Pregnancy is a time when the female body undergoes several transformations, including hormonal changes. After birth, these hormones take time to return to normalcy, specifically estrogen and relaxin. Consequently, it’s critical to give the body ample time to balance the hormones effectively.
Estrogen hormone levels plummet after birth, and this triggers several changes throughout your body such as decrease in blood vessels in your womb, which had increased during pregnancy. This sudden reduction in estrogen levels can cause postpartum depression, vaginal discharge, and tenderness in the breasts, among other psychological effects.
Relaxin hormone, on the other hand, softens the joints and ligaments throughout pregnancy to accommodate the growing uterus. However, the hormone may take a while to dissipate after birth. As such, it’s advisable to refrain from highly intense exercises that could cause muscle strain and joint injury.
Understanding Your Body’s Recovery Process
Postpartum recovery is a gradual process that requires patience and resilience. Listen to your body, and observe how it responds to activities over time. Here are some of the essential physical and emotional milestones that you may experience post-birth:
First Six Weeks
The first six weeks are critical for postpartum healing. At this stage, your body is still undergoing significant changes, hence the need to focus on rest, nutrition, and gentle exercises. These low-impact exercises may involve stretching, pelvic floor exercises, and light walking.
2-4 Months Postpartum
As the days go by, the body slowly adapts to the new changes, and you should gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your exercises. Cardiovascular workouts like walking, jogging, and swimming can be introduced at this stage.
5 Months Postpartum and Onwards
At this point, your body should be recovering well, and you can gradually introduce strength training exercises in your workout routine. Some of these workouts include squats, push-ups, and resistance band exercises.
Types of Exercises to Start With
After getting clearance from your healthcare provider, it’s essential to start with low-impact exercises to allow full recovery. Here are some of the exercises that you can begin with:
Pelvic Floor Exercises
These exercises target the muscles in the pelvic floor, which can become weaker after birth, leading to urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises involve contracting the muscles for a few seconds, then releasing. Start with 10-20 reps before gradually increasing the routine.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done at any time of the day. Start by taking short walks around your living space, then gradually increase the distance over time.
Yoga and Stretching
Yoga and stretching exercises can help release tension and stress in postpartum mothers. Additionally, these exercises can help alleviate pain and discomfort in the back, neck, and arms. Start with beginner-level yoga poses, such as child’s pose, and gradually progress to advanced levels.
Avoid Rushing Into High-Intensity Workouts
As much as you may feel an urge to get back into your pre-pregnancy shape quickly, high-intensity workouts can do more harm than good. Instead, focus on low-impact exercises and gradually increase the frequency and intensity as your body recovers.
Benefits of Exercise for Postpartum Mothers
Exercise is not only essential to maintain weight loss; it also has other psychological and physical benefits, such as:
After giving birth, postpartum depression is a common occurrence in new mothers. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are hormone-like substances in the brain that can enhance your mood and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
Reduced Stress Levels
Exercises like yoga have been shown to reduce cortisol levels, a hormone that’s responsible for inducing stress. Lower cortisol levels can reduce stress and anxiety levels in new mothers.
Adequate and peaceful sleep can be a challenge for new mothers. However, regular exercise can improve sleep patterns and quality, leading to better rest.
New mothers should take their time to recover after birth before resuming an exercise routine. Consult your doctor for personalized advice on when to start exercising. Start your workout routine with low-intensity exercises like pelvic floor exercises, walking, and yoga. With patience and perseverance, you’ll gradually recover and obtain the benefits that exercise has to offer.
- When can I start exercising after a C-section delivery?
- Can I do sit-ups after giving birth?
- How much exercise should I do after birth?
You’ll need to wait for at least six to eight weeks after a C-section delivery. However, it’s recommended to check with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
It’s not advisable to do sit-ups or other highly intense abdominal exercises until your body has fully recovered. This may take a few months or more, depending on your body’s individual recovery rate.
You should start with at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises per week, then gradually increase the intensity and duration as your body adjusts.