A woman’s body undergoes major changes during pregnancy – and equally major ones after labor and delivery. You did, after all, carry a whole human being in your belly for nine months. So why do we expect our bodies to bounce back like it’s nothing? While it’s perfectly okay to want to fit into your favorite pre-baby jeans, remember, it’s going to take some effort on your part. Physical activity within the first year of childbirth has numerous benefits, including minimizing the risk of postpartum depression and improving cardiovascular—heart, and lung function and fitness. If the goal is to reset the body back to pre-pregnancy shape, maintaining a healthy diet alongside physical exercise will work best.
If you plan to head back to physical activity post-pregnancy, the following tips will help you with your workout routines.
Take care of yourself
Pregnancy demands a lot from the body, and in the few weeks after your pregnancy, your routine is bound to change. In this case, it is better to take time and ease into exercises. You shouldn’t overexert your body, so refrain from body-intensive exercises. Instead, focus on letting the body heal from the inside. This goes for both cesarean and regular births. Allow your body time to rest, and if you feel like stretching and other activities, head to a physical therapy clinic for controlled exercises to break the cramps and get you to lose, but nothing more. Every woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy. Hence, a physical therapist will work with every individual, accounting for their unique needs, to safely get them back into top shape.
While the obvious sign of pregnancy is the tummy, it also changes how your body works internally. Things like breathing patterns change because the uterus pushes against the diaphragm. So, in the immediate period after birth, getting your normal breathing rate should be your focus before embarking on exercising. A physical therapist will help restore your ribcage and diaphragm position to their original condition for easier breathing with full lung capacity.
Do more abdominal core and pelvic muscle exercises.
A woman’s abdomen takes the most punishment from pregnancy, and sometimes they even separate. This separation is called diastasis rectus abdominis. That said, you should also focus on strengthening these muscles in the immediate period after birth. Begin with the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, which would now have stretched to accommodate the pregnancy and delivery. Strengthening these sections provides a strong base of support for which other workouts can begin. Otherwise, the exercises would be extremely excruciating. In addition, this would also give you the flexibility to do things like getting in and out of cars, taking the stairs, and carrying the baby easily.
If you want to resume your sexual life, pelvic exercises such as Kegel (pelvic floor) exercises also work a treat and could also help prevent incontinence (bladder leakage). Remember to be extra vigilant on the intensity and correctness of your post-childbirth workouts if you underwent a cesarean birth.
Remember the hips
Pelvis pain, incontinence, changes in walking style, and back pain can be attributed to weak buttocks and hip muscles. Talk to a physical therapist to craft exercises that will strengthen these areas to allow you to take on more intense activities. Ignoring your hips would mean that the pressure of being on your feet will cause back pain, and your breathing patterns could be affected as well.
Each minute of exercise counts towards your general fitness.
A physical therapist will advise you not to put too much pressure on yourself. Every minute of workout matters, and there’s no need to push yourself till the body fails. So, if you can pass the talk test after every workout, you are fine. The talk test means you can talk without running out of breath after a workout. You can begin slowly easing into it for the body to pick up the rhythm, and everything will flow from then.
If you are struggling to get back to full function after childbirth or are experiencing other physical issues related to pregnancy, a visit to a physical therapy clinic can do you some good. Contact us today for an evaluation, and let’s help you through your postpartum journey.