How Soon after Birth Should I Begin to Exercise?

It can be frustrating for a woman who has just given birth to realize that not all of the weight that she put on during pregnancy is gone.  The most important thing to remember is that it took nine months to put on that weight, and that it can take just as long to take it back off.  It is important that, after birth, you begin to get back into your exercise routine slowly.

Generally, your health care provider will probably recommend that you wat after delivery for at least six weeks before you restart or before you begin an exercise regimen.  This is wise advice.  The fact of the matter is that your body has been through a very traumatic experience.  Your body needs time to recover from pregnancy and from labor and delivery.  Still, there are some basic exercises that you may be allowed, or even encouraged, by your health care provider to do.  These may include:

–  Walking.  Walking is one of the healthiest forms of exercise that you can engage in.  Make sure that you listen to your body; if you get winded, stop and rest.  If you feel any pain, do the same.  You should walk for no more than about 10-15 minutes each day, and about 3 times a week.

–  Stretching.  There are a variety of chest stretching and back-stretching exercises that will help limber you back up.  Be certain not to stretch too far and, again, if you feel any pain, you should stop.

–  Doing pelvic tilts.  This type of exercise will help bring the blood flowing back into your pelvic region.  These are especially useful if you had any vaginal tearing or an episiotomy during the birthing process.

–  Doing kegel exercises.  These also will help the pelvic region, and may help with hemorrhoids and pain of the perineum.

–  Doing Yoga.  Yoga is low-impact, and will help your body with flexibility and muscle tone.  You should, of course, avoid any strenuous positions or stretches.

When you begin to exercise after birth, there are some things to keep in mind.  You should make sure to be aware of exercises that might be high-impact, especially back and leg exercises.  You should wear a sports bra to help with comfort and with support.  Keep drinking lots of water to make sure that you are hydrated.  Finally, you should keep to a nutritious diet that is low in caffeine and sugar.  After that first six weeks, your health care provider may release you for a more rigorous exercise program.

Leila Pereira
Leila Pereira
I work in occupational therapy and occupational science. I specialize in early intervention pediatrics for children from birth to three years old; with an emphasis on children with autism. My goals are to support the achievement of developmental milestones in your child while collaborating with caregivers & parents; including play skill development, education, leisure, rest and sleep, feeding, nutrition and social participation. Licensed by the California Board of Occupational Therapy

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