Many celebrities show off their slim postpartum bodies just months after giving birth and this can make you wonder if there’s anything wrong with you. While it is normal to be frustrated with your postpartum body (especially compared to what you see in magazines), it’s also important to put it in the right perspective. It is truly unrealistic to compare yourself to celebrities who have personal trainers and personal chefs.
Not being pregnant anymore can leave new moms feeling antsy to get back to “normal,” but you must remind yourself that it’s a process. The transition from being pregnant to parent may happen overnight but it takes weeks or months for the body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Typically, about 13 pounds comes off immediately after childbirth, and another 5 to 15 pounds over the first six weeks but it can take six months to a year to lose the rest.
When can I safely exercise again?
If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, the answer may be sooner than you thought. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can start exercising within a few days of delivery if you feel ready. However, that doesn’t mean picking up where you left off in your favorite boot camp class. Walking is a great start for many women. It could be a 10-minute stroll around the block, with or without your baby. You can then build up as you feel able, aiming for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
By six weeks postpartum, getting 150 minutes of exercise a week is a good goal, just like for all adults.
However, if you had complications or delivered by C-section, you may need to take it more slowly. A doctor, midwife or physical therapist can give personalized advice.
What are the best exercises to do?
You can start walking as soon as you can, after giving birth (as long as your doctor gives you clearance). This will get your body moving and burning calories. You can buy a fitness tracker and measure your daily activity then gradually start to increase your steps every week by 10 percent as you get stronger.
- Perform kegels and pelvic tilts:
As soon as one to two days after delivery, you can start kegel exercises depending on what kind of delivery you had and as long as your doctor approves. You can start with Kegel exercises — contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor as soon as you feel able. Simply squeeze as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine, thinking about drawing your pelvic floor up. Hold this for three to five seconds. Then relax.
- Diaphragmatic breathing:
Diaphragmatic or deep breathing is an exercise you can begin within the first few days of giving birth. Taking a few minutes each day to focus on your breath can help you relax and reduce stress. It can also improve core stability and slow your rate of breathing. You can perform this breathing exercise seated or lying down.
- Lie flat on the floor on a yoga mat.
- Relax your body, focusing on leasing the tension from your toes to the top of your head.
- Put a hand on your chest and another on your stomach.
- Take a deep breath in through the nose. This will expand your stomach, but your chest should remain relatively still. Breathe in for 2 to 3 seconds.
- Exhale slowly while keeping one hand on the chest and one on the stomach.
- Repeat several times for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Swiss ball bird dog holds: This exercise helps with stability, posture, and reduces low back pain, which is pretty common after giving birth. You’ll need a stability or exercise ball to perform this move.
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