Getting back in shape after pregnancy can be a struggle, but it’s doable with the right mindset and some healthy lifestyle changes. The key is to have realistic expectations.
Post-pregnancy weight loss is rarely as quick and dramatic as women’s magazines would lead you to think. In fact, 40% of 831 women kept more than 2.5 kg of the weight they gained in pregnancy, a study in the International Journal of Obesity reveals. Above all, the most important thing is returning to a healthy weight in a steady, safe manner.
When to start exercising after pregnancy
It’s wise to wait for your six-week postnatal check-up before you start exercising again. While you may not have as much time to exercise as you once did, try to squeeze movement in whenever you can. Taking a twenty-minute walk with baby is a great way to ease yourself back into physical activity. Don’t be hard on yourself either. Some days you won’t manage to fit a workout in. Just aim for half an hour of physical activity three to five times a week.
Postnatal exercises to get back in shape
Cardio, like walking, running, and cycling is great for heart health and weight loss. Pelvic tilts are also often recommended for postnatal women — they’re even okay to do just one or two days after birth (if your doctor approves). Pelvic tilts strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which in turn improves posture and decreases lower back pain.
Additionally, lifting weight builds muscle, boosts metabolism, and burns baby fat. Invest in a pair of dumbbells and sneak in quick workouts while baby naps or plays nearby. Do squats with shoulder raises, and lunges with triceps extensions. Add high knees and butt kicks in between rep sets to get your heart rate up.
Avoid ab exercises
Abdominal exercises like planks and crunches are generally not recommended after birth. This is because over 98% of pregnant women experience abdominal separation and ab exercises can increase intra-abdominal pressure, which pushes organs out through the abdominal gap. If you have abdominal separation, there are breathing exercises and other specialized exercises that can help. Consult with your doctor or a physical therapist.
Finally, rather than drastically cutting calories, focus on eating enough nutrient-dense food to give you the energy you need. Eat a healthy, balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and grains. You’ll feel better for it and find yourself gradually shedding the weight.