Exercise is a great way to lift your mood, feel good about yourself, and get your old body back after you have a baby. While it’s generally safe to work out after pregnancy like you normally would, there are a few extra things you need to know. Keep these five tips in mind to stay safe and get the most out of your post-pregnancy workouts.
1. You should check with a medical professional before starting a workout regimen.
In general, if you had a vaginal birth with no complications, it’s okay to start exercising gently as soon as you feel up to it. If you had a cesarean section or other complications during birth, though, you may need to recover for up to six weeks before you start working out. Talk to your doctor or midwife about what level of exercise is safe for you.
2. It’s a good idea to start working your pelvic floor muscles first.
Childbirth is hard on your pelvic floor muscles, so your first priority should be to tighten them back up. There’s a practical, if slightly embarrassing, reason for this – many women find it harder to hold their urine after childbirth, especially when laughing, sneezing, or exercising. By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles right away, you’ll be able to do more intense workouts later on without leaking.
3. Your joints may be less stable than usual.
Pregnancy causes your body to produce a hormone called relaxin, which makes your joints softer and looser. Your levels of relaxin may stay elevated for up to half a year after you give birth, so be careful not to do any exercise that’s too hard on your joints. Running, for example, probably isn’t the best choice of postpartum exercise – try something gentler like swimming.
4. It’s okay to start slowly.
Even if you worked out regularly prior to giving birth, your body needs time to ease back into a workout routine, so be gentle with yourself. Don’t try to work out too much at once, and if you start feeling fatigued, stop and take a break. Consider breaking your exercise into smaller chunks throughout the day, instead of doing one long workout.
5. Working out after pregnancy is a good way to fight postpartum depression.
If you’ve got the baby blues, or if you think you might be at risk for developing postpartum depression, lace up those walking shoes. Exercise is a highly effective natural mood booster, and it can help keep your emotions on an even keel while you’re recovering from the physical and hormonal changes of childbirth. If you suspect you already have postpartum depression, talk to your doctor or another medical professional about other ways you can start feeling better.
You don’t have to feel nervous about working out after you have your baby. In fact, postpartum exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Keep these facts in mind to get in shape safely after welcoming your bundle of joy.