Along with tons of joy, pregnancy comes with lots of questions. After pregnancy, how to get back in shape and all kind of questions related are very common. I´ve seen many women go to the gym for the first time after pregnancy. Although exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do as a new mom, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it does have benefits:
- It helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles.
- It boosts energy.
- It may be useful in preventing postpartum depression, by increasing the levels of feel-good chemicals (endorphins) in your brain.
- It promotes better sleep.
- It relieves stress.
The most important exercises in the first few days after birth are your pelvic floor exercises. Start doing them as soon as you can.
The pelvic floor is a broad sling of muscles, ligaments and sheet-like tissues that stretch from your pubic bone at the front of your body, to the base of your spine at the back. Your pelvic floor supports your bladder, bowel, and uterus, and gives you control over when you empty your bladder or bowel.
Having a weak pelvic floor makes it harder for you to squeeze the muscles and sphincters at the bottom of your bladder. You may find that you accidentally leak a little wee when you cough, sneeze or exercise. It affects up to a third of all new moms.
Your pelvic floor affects your vaginal muscles, too. You may find sex less satisfying if you have a weak pelvic floor.
Doing just a few pelvic floor exercises every day will help to treat symptoms, and will help to prevent problems later on so, include pelvic tilts, belly breathing, and abdominal bracing in your daily routine as soon as you comfortably can.
More details on pelvic floor exercises at Pelvic Floor First, an amazing Aussie website!
It is recommended at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (this means: you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating) aerobic activity every week. But this is imprecise because it´s also recommended a warm-up and a cool down (10 minutes each). At the end, doing it properly means 40-45 minutes a day. Good news is walking count as exercise! Walking is a great way to get back in shape. Walking outside has an added bonus because you can push your baby in a stroller.
Last, but not least, muscle-strengthening activities like yoga, Pilates, and lifting weights should be done in addition to your aerobic activity on at least 2 days a week. All these disciplines have not only a few exercises or routines but specialties adapted to your needs.
Start by strengthening your core with this easy exercises, when you feel ready:
Belly breathing: Belly breathing simply involves allowing your stomach to expand and contract as much as possible while you actively inhale and exhale as deeply as possible.
Abdominal Bracing: Begin by lying face-up on the floor. Brace your abdomen by contracting your entire abdomen as if you were preparing to get hit in the stomach. From here, perform different movements with your arms and legs (such as raising one or both arms overhead or extending your legs while keeping your back flat against the floor).
Pelvic Tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor or propped on a ball. Brace your abdomen and tilt your pelvis back by pressing your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for five seconds then repeat.
Happy training, Moms!