Strengthening exercise need to address specific muscles that have been and are being strained/stretched during pregnancy and after. The upper back and shoulders are particularly vulnerable to stress with constant breast feeding and the postural changes that occur during and after delivery.
The crucial question then arises: “When do I Start?” After a normal delivery – as soon as possible. Many active women return to exercise within two weeks of their babies birth without detrimental effects. After a caesarean delivery–six weeks, unless you develop scar dehiscence, infection or have been advised against it by your Obgyn for any other medical reason. Even abdominal exercises can be started six weeks post-caesarean delivery. Begin with isometric exercises for the Transversalis muscles (which travel around the waist like a corset), followed by breathing exercises using the abdominal wall to attain control over these muscles.
In addition to these (which are only a basic listing of exercises that may be put into practice), there are several that can be combined to break the monotony of exercise. If you exercised before and during pregnancy continue to do so varying intensity of exercise depending on your energy levels. Find something you like and stay with it. It may take up to six-seven months for the weight to decrease. But it will, with perseverance and sensible eating.
It is also advisable to change the routine every six weeks to challenge the muscles and prevent boredom. Not all the exercises need to be implemented at the same time. Start with about six-eight repetitions per exercise and work up to three-four sets of 12 to 15 reps each.
Strength training can be done on alternating days if all the body parts are addressed in a single routine or, every day (for a shorter period of time) if different body parts are worked.
Yoga is particularly helpful at this time in your life. Combining the above with yoga and relaxation on the days when you are simply incapable of pushing yourself through a heart pounding cardio session will create a well-rounded fitness routine. Including the sun-salutation, asanas, like the ‘camel’, ‘boat’, downward-‘dog’ and ‘seated forward bend’ may be extremely helpful in improving flexibility of the body aside from aiding relaxation.
Thirty to 40 minutes of any form of cardiovascular exercise (walking, cycling, cross training) per day, may be partaken in for weight loss. Increase the intensity of the exercise gradually to about 70 percent so you burn a minimum of about 250-300 calories/session.
Finding the time to Routine Exercise
With a newborn, innumerable household chores, not to mention a career if you have one, it may seem impractical if not impossible to find the time. How do you allocate 30-40 minutes of time that you don’t have? One solution is to try incorporating exercise at intervals. Stealing a few minutes at various times during the day to your crunches, squats, kegels or back extensions (and not necessarily as one uninterrupted session) may work for some women. Even your cardio may be done as three, 10 minute sessions provided you can motivate yourself to the required intensity each time.
Nap time for baby, for instance, may be another good time to get in a workout provided you are well rested) is that all possible, you ask?). If not it may be more important to catch a nap yourself instead of grueling through an exercise routine.
Include baby in your strengthening workout as the child grows older. Hold on to him (close to your centre of gravity) while you do a ‘Mommy and Me’ routine with squats, pelvic bridging, bent over rowing and even crunches. Exercising with your baby is not only more demanding but also more enjoyable.
A father’s role in your getting in to shape cannot be over-emphasized. Taking some of the child rearing/caring load off you and giving you the time and space to indulge in exercise may be one of the best gifts he can offer. He may then find you more sanguine and charming besides beginning to look fabulous!
Benefits of After Delivery Exercises
Having got on this roller coaster ride of new mother hood, some women find themselves too tired to exercise. But fitness exercise can be invigorating and uplifting, physically and emotionally. The endorphins released during exercise benefit post partum mood swings. Post-partum blues can sometimes be incapacitating.
A systematic routine exercise regulates and even treats these mood upheavals to help you deal with the sense of overwhelming responsibility you feel now that you are a mother. Regular routine exercise also helps you sleep better, get stronger to handle the growing child, eat healthier and of course, lose that extra weight. It is also a great way to socialize, if you join a class for instance, and most importantly, the time spent solely for yourself is great for your morale making you a more confident mother capable of handling any crisis with your baby.