After pregnancy, your body will inevitably look and feel different one way or another. One of the most common outcomes of this is weight gain and that’s totally normal. It’s completely up to you if you want to lose weight but postpartum exercise provides more benefits than just better physique.
Exercise, in general, will help you boost your energy levels, relieve stress, and promote better sleep among many other benefits. For mums, postpartum exercise will tone your muscles as well as the skin that has gotten stretched from pregnancy.
According to the American College Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists, you can start a postpartum exercise within the week the baby is born. Usually, it’s already recommended that you do these exercises as long as you feel ready for it. However, if you had a cesarean birth or faced other complications during childbirth, do consult with your doctor first before engaging in any postpartum exercise.
5 Best Postpartum Exercise
1. Pelvic Floor Exercises
This type of postpartum exercise strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are greatly strained in pregnancy and childbirth. These are the muscles that keep the bladder closed so having a weakened pelvic floor can cause leaking when coughing, sneezing, or exercising.
Here’s how you can do pelvic floor exercises:
- Tighten your pelvic floor in a quick contraction and lift them. Squeeze the muscles upwards and inwards.
- Pause and then slowly release.
- Relax completely.
- Repeat with the same strength and speed.
2. Standard Plank Hold
Planks may look easy at first. I mean, you’re really just holding yourself still. But don’t let yourself be fooled. A one-minute standard plank hold can feel like an eternity for most. Its difficulty makes up for the benefits it provides. Doing this postpartum exercise will retain your core and strengthen the muscles in your upper body.
Below are the steps to perform a proper standard plank hold:
- Place your forearms on the floor while lying on your stomach. Flex your toes on the floor.
- Rise up on your toes so that your forearms and toes are the only ones touching the floor. This will engage your core and glutes.
- Tighten your upper body and buttocks while breathing normally.
- Hold this for about 30 seconds.
- Repeat once or twice. As you gain endurance, your hold time will increase.
Yup, a simple stroll counts as postpartum exercise! You would be surprised at the wide array of benefits walking provides not just to mums, but to everyone. Aside from maintaining a healthy weight, you also get to lower your risks of conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Your mental health condition will also improve when you walk regularly.
If circumstances prevent you from going outside, you can still walk at home. There are several channels on YouTube that can show you how to do just that. A prime example of this is Leslie Sansone’s Walk At Home. Such simple postpartum exercise will give you plenty of benefits especially if you’re trying to stay in shape.
4. Curl Ups
Curl ups are an effective way to strengthen your abdominal muscles, especially after childbirth. Doing so would tighten the stretched out skin on your abdomen, improve digestion, as well as increase blood flow and oxygen giving you more energy.
What makes this postpartum exercise even better is that you don’t need to purchase any equipment to do this. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your own home with ease. All you really need is a clean place where you can lie on your back.
5. Side Plank Leg Lifts
As you continue to do more exercises, you’ll gradually build more strength and endurance. This particular postpartum exercise will leave you tired but fulfilled at the same time! It is a variation of the standard plank hold, but twice as difficult.
Here’s how you can do a successful side plank leg lift:
- Similar to the standard plank hold, start off by lying on your stomach with your forearms on the floor.
- Turn sideways with just one forearm on the floor then raise your body.
- You can either raise your leg and hold it for 20-30 seconds or do leg raises.
- Repeat this once or twice on each side.
In A Nutshell…
The main point of a postpartum exercise isn’t just to make you lose weight, but to keep you healthy first and foremost. Your body would have gone through so many changes internally as well as externally. As long as you keep your body engaged and active on a daily basis, you’re well on your way to leading a healthy lifestyle!
What is your favourite postpartum exercise? Share it with us!