According to the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology it is safe to resume exercise whenever the mother feels up to it. Naturally, you should consult with your doctor or midwife before doing any exercise routine. You should note, however, that the sooner you're able to resume an exercise routine the better for your emotional well-being. I say this because even though you may not feel up to doing much of anything those first few weeks, exercise produces helpful endorphins. Remember, endorphins are the happy hormones that your body naturally produces. Just think, those dreaded baby blues that happen in 70 80% of every birth could be combated or minimized through exercise.
What kind of exercises can and should you do during those first six weeks postpartum? Walking is a great activity and can be done with the babe safely against you in a wrap or baby carrier or in a stroller. The beauty of walking is that you can adjust the speed of your walk to suit your needs or use the walk as a warm up to a light jog (do not babywear while jogging though!). Remember listen to your body especially if you've just had your baby.
Did you enjoy prenatal Yoga? If so, check into it again postpartum after bleeding has stopped or six weeks after a cesarean. The focus on your abdominal muscles and breathing are particularly helpful since our abs and pelvic floor took a beating during pregnancy and labor and delivery. In fact those pesky Kegel exercises are helpful at healing an episiotomy or natural tear because it brings blood down to the vaginal area.
You can also strengthen your lower abs and pelvic floor by doing pelvic raises. Simply lie flat on your back then bring your feet towards your butt so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Then place your hands at your side and gently lift up and lower your pelvis squeezing at the top. Try doing this for thirty seconds or one minute three times resting I in between sets. If, at any point, you experience leaking urine its time to stop and wait for your body to heal a little more.
The important thing is that youre doing something. It took almost 40 weeks for the baby to grow and that means that your activity level has had to be adjusted to compensate the change of gravity and loose ligaments. In the same way your body needs to adjust back to not sharing with another life form. Give yourself time, dont stress and listen to those aches and pains you may have.
A Few Things to Note: If youve experienced diastasis recti, which is a separation of the abdominal muscles of more than three fingers width, then you can do modified ab exercises. If youve had a C-section, you must wait a minimum of six weeks before doing any kind of abs exercises, even if its modified.
Bio: Bert is a stay at home mom of two, wife to college sweetheart, and what she calls a "semi-crunchy" mama. After four years of being overweight related to pregnancies, Bert submitted a video entry into a local Biggest Loser type of fitness challenge; she was chosen and lost 25% of her body weight in 90 days. She blogs at FirstTimeMom about everything from cloth diapers, parenting, life and her recent passion with health and fitness.