- Exercise gives you energy to cope with motherhood
- Consult your doctor before you start exercising
- Avoid high impact exercises immediately after delivery
- Be gentle with yourself - it may take months!
However, it is important to consult with your doctor before you start any postnatal exercise program. You may need more time than you think to heal from the rigors of childbirth. This is especially true if you had a caesarean delivery.
Commonly recommended postnatal exercise includes:
- Brisk walking
- Low impact aerobic workouts
- Light weight training
Your doctor would be the best person to decide the timing, frequency and intensity of your exercise routine. Here are a few general suggestions that you will need to keep in mind before you take the plunge:
- Give yourself sufficient time to heal, especially after a caesarean birth
- Consult with your doctor or midwife before starting any postnatal exercise program - you may be advised to wait, or modify your exercises
- Aim for slow, gradual weight loss of around half a kilogram per week
- Wear a supportive bra
- Avoid any activities that places stress on the unstable pelvic floor and hip joints until strength and stability has improved. Avoid activities that require sudden changes in direction like high-impact aerobics, running and contact sports.
- Initially, exercise for only five to ten minutes at a time. Increase the duration gradually.
- Your exercise sessions should eventually last between 30 and 50 minutes
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise
- Don't push yourself too hard - if you feel breathless, slow down
- If you experience pain, slow down or stop
Your body gives out warning signs if you exert yourself. These signs may include:
- Increased fatigue
- Muscle aches and pains
- Colour changes of lochia (post-partum vaginal flow) to pink or red
- Heavier lochia flow
- Lochia flow after it had stopped
The important thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself and follow your doctor's orders. Don't be discouraged by slow progress - remember that it may take you months to return to your pre-pregnancy shape and weight.
Make sure you're eating a healthy diet, particularly if you're breastfeeding. Stay well hydrated and don't give up! Not only will you get back in shape faster, you'll have more energy for your baby too. Your baby demands it!