Being a parent is exhausting – more so if you’re new at it. The demands of your baby coupled with the changes in your body can put you under a lot of stress. It is important to take things easy after the birth of a child to avoid wearing yourself out.
The period after giving birth can be challenging mentally and physically for most mothers. You worked hard to give birth, putting a lot of strain on your body and it will take a while to get back to normal. You are likely to experience some pains and twinges as your body recovers and your emotions may be all over the place in the days following delivery. For this reason, you should be gentle with yourself.
Having a baby changes your body and while some things like stretch marks may never completely go away, other changes needn’t be permanent. With the right exercise and a proper healthy diet, the weight you gained during pregnancy will gradually drop off.
Although it can feel like the last thing you want to do as a new mum, exercise does have its benefits. It can:
- Assist your body to recover after birth, easing away aches and pains.
- Help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy, as long as you eat sensibly.
- Boost your mood by increasing levels of endorphins (feel-good hormones) in your brain.
- Boost your energy levels while improving your strength, making it easier for you to look after your newborn.
So how soon after giving birth can you start exercising? It depends on how fit you were before you had your baby and how smoothly the labor and delivery went. If you exercised regularly up until the end of your pregnancy and had no complications giving birth, then you can start off with some stretches and light exercises soon after delivery. The best exercises to help your body recover at this stage are pelvic floor and gentle lower belly exercises.
You should take up exercise more gradually if you experienced complications in labor, had an assisted birth or a caesarean, are having problems with stress incontinence or didn’t exercise regularly before or during your pregnancy. Before starting any exercise regime, consult with your midwife or doctor to ensure it’s okay for you to go ahead.
You can enroll for postnatal exercise classes to help you get started. Compression clothing is also recommended as it’s designed to give you support while relieving muscle and joint soreness. Compression footwear comes in a variety of lengths from ankle-high to full length, including ankle socks, full stockings or tights as well as calf or knee-length socks. These provide extra cushioning for your heels and toes, allowing you to exercise more comfortably. They also help to prevent varicose veins.Remember that your body is still in recovery so be careful not to do too many high-impact activities too soon after giving birth. Stick to simple exercises coupled with a balanced diet and you’ll see the pregnancy weight coming off gradually. Don’t despair if the process takes time. After all, it took nine months to make your baby and it might take longer to get back in shape.