Right after baby is born, your stomach looks flat as you lay in bed…until you stand up, then the little pouch drops like a ball and you wonder whether you can get your body back after baby. Don’t despair. Not only is it possible, but you can even return better than you looked before with a little extra effort. Many women wear a belly band, lightweight girdle or other type of tummy support for several weeks to hold things in place until their abdominal muscles can get back into shape and stronger. It also helps when you’re bending and lifting. Consult your health care professional, as with all recommendations.
Start slow and simple.
The easiest and most convenient exercise is walking. You may have enough pacing the floor with baby in arms to qualify for a marathon walker, but consider taking the baby for a walk outside if the weather is nice. It will be a good opportunity to get out of the house for both of you. If you have a baby sling, carry the baby, otherwise use the stroller. You may not get tired holding him or her in your arms, but if you do, there’s nowhere to put the baby down to rest, so error on the side of caution. Walking for a half hour a day can help get muscles working and burn calories. Start slowly at first walking about 20 minutes and build up time and speed as you go.
Aside from Kegel exercises and walking, you can start exercising in normally six to eight weeks.
If you’ve had vaginal birth wait six weeks or longer if your health care provider recommends it. For those who had cesarean, normally eight weeks is recommended. If you exercised throughout your pregnancy, you may find you’re ready with a normal delivery even earlier, but again, the decision is up to you and your doctor. Light weights and low impact exercises can help gain strength in your core. The fact is, you’re probably already lifting a light weight frequently, baby. When you go to the gym, add an extra pound or two to the baby’s weight and start there.
Use anti-rotation exercises that help build strength to prevent it from moving in a direction that’s not safe.
Dead bug, single arm wall push and Paloff presses are a few. They’ll build your core. Yoga classes, swimming and bicycling are also good exercises to get your body fit and help shed pounds. Don’t start with crunches or any exercise that puts too much pressure on the abdominal muscles. Give your body a chance to heal and get stronger before starting these.
- Avoid exercises that have you bending over or leaning forward. Save these for later when your muscles are stronger and your body is completely healed.
- Talk to your personal trainer for a specific program of exercises to guide you safely back into shape.
- Eat a healthy diet to help shed pounds. Include lots of fiber, since your elimination system will be working slower after delivery.
- Don’t expect to spend a full session at the gym your first few weeks back to exercise. Start slowly, 20 minutes or so and gradually work up to a full session. Be kind to yourself at first and take it easy when exercising. Your body has experienced a number of changes and needs to heal.