Exercising after Birth

You just had a baby, and it seems as if you’ re in constant motion as you try to run the household, work, and take care of yourself and your family. That s why you probably don’t need to exercise as you did before – at least not within the first few months after delivery.

In fact, pushing yourself too hard too early after delivery is counterproductive, because it saps the energy required to take care of your new baby. It can even be dangerous, if you lost a lot of blood during childbirth, had a cesarean delivery, delivered more than one baby, or were on bed rest for weeks or months before the delivery.

If everything went well during pregnancy and delivery, most women can begin walking for exercise a few weeks after having a child; others will need to wait longer. Typically, women get approval for working out at their six – week checkup. Discuss your situation with your health – care provider. Once your doctor, nurse practitioner, or nurse – midwife gives you the go – ahead, a gradual return to your pre pregnancy level of physical activity is the best strategy.

If you had a cesarean section, you know that you’ve undergone major abdominal surgery. Like all women, you will be encouraged to return to exercise as soon as it is safe to do so. However , having a C-section means that this will take longer. Women who have had cesarean deliveries are advised to avoid climbing stairs or lifting heavy objects until the incision has healed. Walking only very short distances at first is the best path to recovery. Don’t do anything that causes pain or discomfort at the incision site. There’s no point in rushing to exercise. Ask your health – care provider what’s right for you.

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Even if you want to work out, you might wonder if it’s worth spending what little free time you have on aerobics, yoga, or Pilates. You may prefer to get exercise that allows you to include your baby. Take a walk with the baby in the carrier or the stroller. When the weather is bad, use an exercise videotape or DVD at home and bounce around the room while your baby watches.

Exercise can help you to lose weight as long as you’re eating the right number of calories to shed pounds. A combination of calorie reduction and regular physical activity helps you to drop the pounds while preserving muscle tissue. The latter is important, since muscle burns more calories overall than fat does. You need to exercise even if weight loss is not your goal, however. Physical activity is important for women of all ages because it helps to prevent pounds from creeping up on you as you age; it also builds and tones muscles, increases stamina and cardiovascular fitness, and enhances mental health.

Breast – feeding mothers should try to nurse just before exercising for prolonged periods (thirty minutes or more) to avoid discomfort and to avoid any potential problems with acidity. Breast milk becomes more acidic from lactic acid, a compound that is produced by working muscles. The acidity is not usually a problem, but some infants might not like the taste. Drink fluids before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated. Wear a comfortable bra that provides the support you need when you’re working out.

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 Ideas for Short Exercise Sessions

It’s not always easy to work in thirty continuous minutes of physical activity, but most mothers have time for at least ten minutes a day. Start off with a ten – minute block of activity daily and work your way up to at least three. You can string them together or mix and match. For example, take a brisk thirty – minute walk or ride a bike for twenty minutes and do resistance training for ten.


Following are some activities that fit nicely in ten – minute blocks:

  • A brisk walk (defined as a fifteen – minute mile) at the mall, during a coffee break or a lunch break, on a treadmill, or while pushing your child in a stroller
  • A slow jog
  • Bicycle riding (ten miles per hour)
  • Resistance training. Repeat this sequence for ten minutes: ten sit-ups, ten push – ups, ten biceps curls with light weights, ten squats, and ten jumping jacks
  • Swimming
  • Use of an elliptical machine
  • Use of a stair – stepping machine
  • Dancing