Finding the time and motivation to exercise can be a challenge before you have a baby, let alone after your bundle of joy has arrived. Here are some of our top tips to help you get back on track with exercise after pregnancy.
Take it slowly
Regardless of what exercise level you were at prior to getting pregnant, it’s important to ease yourself into fitness training post-pregnancy and listen to your body. Also, don’t focus on weight loss in the first few months. Instead, aim to be more active and work on what you can do. Exercise at a moderate activity level and drink plenty of water during your workout.
Starting off with gentle exercise is especially important if you have had a caesarean section, stitches, or your abdominals have separated (diastasis recti) as your muscles need to heal and learn how to reactivate before you can push yourself at the gym or you may injure yourself. For anyone after pregnancy, crunches are best left until you have fully healed.
What exercises can I try?
Once your doctor has given you the go-ahead to begin exercising again, start off by sticking to low impact exercise and keeping your sessions short – 30 minutes or less. Exercise doesn’t have to be done in long blocks of time. Your body will benefit from even just a 5 minute session a couple of times a day. Swimming, walking with your baby, gentle yoga and bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, knee press ups) are some of the options that might suit you.
We mentioned this briefly before, but if your abs have separated thanks to bubs stretching the muscles in your tummy as he/she grew, it’s best to avoid some exercises – especially crunches and leg lifts – until the abdominal muscles have come together again.
To check if you have this, lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor (as if you were about to do crunches). With one hand behind your head to take the weight, and the fingers of your other hand right above your belly button, lift your head off the ground. If you can feel a gap in your abdominal wall that fits two or more fingers in it side by side, you have diastasis recti. If you have this, it’s best to consult a doctor or exercise professional for exercises you can do to start closing the gap.
Include baby in your exercise session
Babies love to interact with you, and the other plus side to including bubs in your exercise routine is that you don’t need to find a sitter to look after them when you want to squeeze in a workout. Here are some options to get you started:
– Go for a hilly walk with them in the stroller
– Dance around the room with them
– Walking lunges can be done while pushing the stroller
– Do pushups over baby – you can blow a raspberry on their belly every time you lower yourself!
– Hold baby when you do your squats (try doing these with just your bodyweight on your own first until you feel strong enough to carry baby while you’re doing squats).
Remember, always get approval from a medical professional before getting back into a fitness routine after pregnancy.
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