Regain your Pre-Pregnancy Shape
Life after the birth of a child can be extremely busy… and sleep depriving! Finding time to exercise seems impossible, but getting your body back into shape is important for you and your child. Exercise will give you more energy, and when you exercise with your new baby, it gives you more time to bond. One of the easiest ways to resume your fitness program postpartum is by walking. Walking can be done on a treadmill, outside (on a sidewalk or track)—even in the mall.
Many new moms believe that you should wait 6 weeks after delivery before you begin exercising again. But this is not true in all cases. If you had a non-traumatic vaginal delivery, then your doctor will probably give you the OK to perform many forms of low level exercise, such as Kegels, stretching, pelvic tilts, leg lifts, and walking. If you had a Cesarean or a traumatic vaginal delivery, then you may have to wait 3-6 weeks before beginning a walking program.
Be sure to ask your doctor before beginning any of these exercises.
Before you begin a walking program, be sure you are warmed up, well-hydrated, wearing supportive shoes, and using good posture. This will allow your body the most optimal environment to exercise and tone.
- Warm up with a series of small backward arm circles (large circles may potentially injure the rotary cuff) , marching in place, circling your ankles around, raising up on your toes (to get blood flowing to your calf muscles), and do 5-10 pelvic floor contractions.
- Choose your walk path carefully. You do not want to start out on challenging terrain like hills. Find a flat course, get on a treadmill, or go to the mall.
- Start out with a slow pace (2.7 mph – 3.5 mph), swinging your arms loosely. Ligament laxity is still present early after delivery, so be sure not to lock your knees.
- Keep good posture! This is very important in the postpartum stage to help you lose that belly “pooch”. To stand up tall, you need to keep your belly pulled in and your shoulders back. This engages your abdominal muscles, which helps keep that stomach “pooch” drawn in toward your spine, eventually disappearing!
- Start out walking slowly for 5-10 minutes, about 3-5 times per week. Gradually work up your time, incline, and pace as your body feels more able. Eventually, if you do not feel like you have 30-40 minutes at a time, break up your walks to three 10-minute sessions per day.
· It’s very important to continue with your Kegel exercises to prevent urine leakage—especially when your activity level increases. You should not resume or begin running until you have enough pelvic floor control to prevent leakage.
· If you are breastfeeding, wear a supportive bra and try to walk after feeding or pumping so your breasts will not feel uncomfortable.
· Cool down after your walk by slowing down your pace, bringing your heart rate back down near its resting level. Finish up with some light stretches. Postpartum walking is one of the easiest ways to resume your exercise routine and help you restore your muscle tone and fitness level. Combine walking with some light stretching and strengthening exercises, and you will have your pre-pregnancy body back in no time! Be sure to start out slow and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Remember—it was a nine-month process of gaining weight, so it will take time to lose it. But with dedication, you can meet your fitness goals and have some fun in the process!