It's not easy being a new mom. You’re dealing with so much change – a new baby, and a body you no longer recognise. What do you do?
By Namita Jain
In the sleep-deprived blur of nursing, burping and diaper changes, where’s the time for exercise and getting back in shape? But, if you like the idea of going back to your fit self quickly, get some activity as soon as you feel up to it.
Exercise should be made a postpartum priority as it is important to re-educate the muscles weakened during pregnancy. Exercise only boosts the metabolism and provides you with energy to deal with the demands on you, while allowing an outlet for mental stress and physical tension. It also helps prevent depression.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, you can start exercising as soon as you feel you are ready. If you had a delivery with no complications, your doctor will probably advise you to resume certain exercises, like the Kegel, immediately. This is because the pelvic floor muscles are traumatised during delivery and Kegels help that part heal.
Tighten your pelvic floor muscles for a slow count of 10 and then relax them. (Try stopping the flow of urine – that is tightening or contracting the pelvic floor muscles). You can do this even when you are sitting at the desk, in the car or going about your chores. Aim for four sets of 25 contractions a day.
Following your six-week postpartum check-up, you will gradually be able to get back to your regular exercise routine based on your personal capacity.
Note: If you’ve had a Caesarian or have encountered any complications during delivery, follow your doctor’s specific recommendations.
If you have exercised right until delivery, you can safely perform low- to moderate-intensity exercises such as walking, strength-training exercises and stretches.
Diastasis Recti, which is the partial or complete separation on the abdominal muscle is common during the third trimester and immediately postpartum. Before progressing to abdominal exercises, make sure the gap in your abdominal muscle narrows to only one to two finger widths. Otherwise, you could impede abdominal healing.
As a new mom, you will invariably struggle with fitness and weight issues. This ClipBook suggests ways by which you can stay fit and take care of your baby at the same time.
If you are a newcomer to fitness, exercise progression should be gradual and monitored. Remember, your ligaments and joints are relatively weak and loose for about three to five months after delivery, so you need to be careful with movements to avoid injury.
A combination of healthy eating and regular exercise is the best way to lose weight. A sensible goal would be to lose one kg in two to three weeks.
1. Abdominal contractions
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Take a deep breath in, and exhale as you tighten the abdominal muscle by pulling your belly button into the floor. Inhale as you release. Do 12-16 counts.
2. Back extension
Lie on your stomach and place your hands on your lower back. Lift your upper body off the floor; keep your eyes on the floor and your chin in a relaxed position. Slowly return to starting position. Do 12-16 counts.
3. Calf lifts
Stand with your heels off the edge of a step or a bench. Now, slowly raise yourself up on your toes (tensing your calf muscle) and then lower down. Do 12-16 counts.
4. Modified push-ups
Place your hands directly under your shoulders and keep your fingers pointing forwards and your back straight. Your knees should be rested on the mat, and then, slowly lower your upper body bringing your chest close to the floor, and then return to start position. Do 12-16 counts.
5. Cat-camel stretch
Come up on all fours (with your palms and knees resting on a mat). Arch your back (like a cat) and hold for 10 seconds, round your back (like the hump of a camel) and hold for 10 seconds. Do this 3-5 times.
6. Hamstring and calf stretch
Lie on a mat or carpet, bend one leg and place it on the floor. On the arch of the other leg wrap a towel. Hold the ends of the towel and straighten the leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Switch legs.
Also incorporate changes in your lifestyle to include activities that will keep you fit. Here are some suggestions:
Push the stroller
Get moving, even if it means just pushing the stroller around the block.
Don't think of your exercise program as something you HAVE to do
Find an exercise form that you enjoy and that you’re likely to pursue. If it makes you feel good, you will most likely stick to it.
Reward yourself for sticking with it
Treat yourself to an outfit or a massage – a little treat for hitting every goalpost. It’s a victory every time you watch your size come down, especially when you feel fitter and more energetic.
Have fun with your baby while exercising by making her a part of your exercise regimen.
Holding your baby, stand with your back pressed against the wall, feet shoulder-width apart and heels a few inches away from the wall. Slide down to a squat so that your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold for 3 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 12 times.
Lie down on the mat, knees bent. Rest the baby on your thighs. Do a kegel and lift your hips and lower back off the floor. Return to starting position and relax. Repeat 12 times.
Lie down on the mat, knees bent. Hold the baby on your chest. Extend your arms and lift the baby off the chest. Return to starting position and relax. Repeat 12 times.
Don't be hard on yourself about your post baby shape. You’re looking exactly as you should be! Experts believe that if you accept and understand weight gain after pregnancy, you’re likely to achieve your results quicker.
Namita Jain is MD Kishco Ltd, and a wellness expert. She is a wellness specialist at Bombay Hospital. Namita is also a wellness columnist for leading newspapers and magazines, and has authored over 10 best-selling books on health and fitness.
For new moms, motherhood can be a challenging period. From taking care of the baby and herself to eating the right kinds of food - it can get difficult. This video with tips for new moms might help. Take a look.
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