Now That Baby’s Here: Tips For Moms Returning to Exercise
● By Digital Media Director
By: Catherine Brockmeier, DO, Avera Medical Group
New moms face a wealth of challenges, and one of the most common is how to return to an active, fitness-focused lifestyle once the bundle of joy has arrived. There are some great ways to approach this change, all while keeping your new baby in the center of your life where he or she belongs.
One good way to “restart” is not to stop. If you exercise throughout your pregnancy, it should be easy to get back into the swing of things after baby is born. Staying fit during pregnancy will ensure you don't gain more weight than is recommended and your muscles stay strong. It can also prevent pregnancy-related diabetes and hypertension.
Exercise after baby arrives will help you sleep better, boost your energy and moods and make you more physically fit, all of which will make you a happier and healthier new mom. When to start after delivery depends a lot on what kind delivery you had, vaginal or cesarean, and whether there were any complications.
Women who have had uncomplicated vaginal deliveries can resume light exercise within days, including walking, strength training and stretching. If you had a c-section, you will need longer to recover and should avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise for at least six weeks. The best advice is for you to ask your doctor for specific recommendations.
It’s important that you make sure you properly warm up and cool down to prevent injuries, especially if you’re returning to exercise after some time away. Make yourself comfortable by dressing in loose fitting clothing. If you are breastfeeding, remember to nurse or pump before you exercise. It’ll be easier and much more comfortable to approach activity if you're not engorged.
Once you’re getting underway, aim for 30 minutes of exercise five times weekly and do a combination of cardio, strength training and stretching. Start with light exercises and work to a more strenuous routine as you start to feel stronger. You don't have to join a gym to exercise after baby – there are great online videos and exercise apps that you can use from the comfort of your own home. Don't forget to include your baby – walking while pushing a stroller is an awesome workout.
If you're breastfeeding and exercising, make sure to stay adequately hydrated and eat enough to keep up your milk supply. If you're too tired to exercise, catch up on sleep instead, because it's just as important as exercise for your overall wellness.