Every new mother experiences firsthand this one unerring fact – having a baby is exhausting. Although exercise may be the last thing on your mind, experts say that gentle exercise soon after pregnancy facilitates healing, reduces the risk of postpartum depression and increases your chances of getting your pre-pregnancy body back.
Here are three simple exercises that will help you regain your strength and shape.
KEGELS (PELVIC MUSCLES)
Kegels have been hailed as the one most important postpartum exercise. They can be done immediately after birth to get your stretched pelvic muscles back in shape. According to Dr Steven Teo of Thomson Fertility Centre, kegels also help control urinary or fecal leakage post-pregnancy.
DO IT: Find the muscles you use when you hold your pee. Contract them for 3 seconds, and then relax for 3 seconds. Keep going in rounds of 10.
CALF RAISES (LOWER LIMBS)
“Maintaining lower limb mobility after childbirth is beneficial in stimulating blood circulation in the legs,” says Dr Teo. He adds that calf exercises are particularly important after a caesarean section or assisted vaginal delivery “to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which may be a life-threatening complication.”
DO IT: Stand on the edge of a stair step or other raised step (as long as it’s in a safe environment) so only the balls of your feet are on the step. Lower your heels as far as they will go, then stand on your tiptoes. Lower heels again, and repeat. This exercise can also be done on flat ground – stand with your feet slightly spread apart, and keep your posture straight. Rise up onto your toes, hold, then return to the start position.
PELVIC TILTS (ABDOMINAL MUSCLES)
“New mothers may restart aerobic and strength conditioning exercises at a lower intensity, as soon as the wounds have healed satisfactorily, usually about 2 to 3 weeks from delivery,” says Dr Teo. “However, if you had a caesarean section, these exercises should be delayed for at least 3 to 4 weeks from delivery to let the abdominal wound heal completely.”
DO IT: Lie with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor by tightening your abdominal muscles and lift your bum up slightly. Hold for up to 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat and work up to 10 to 20 repetitions.
DOCTOR TEO SHARES SOME WISDOM ON POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
Is “too much” exercise possible?
Yes, too much, too early may cause more harm than good. What s right for you depends on your physique and the complexity of your childbirth process. Overstraining delivery wounds too early may impede proper healing. Go at a comfortable pace and increase appropriately over time.
Avoid intensive and contact sports until all delivery wounds have healed satisfactorily. Listen to your body and stop if the exercises cause unusual pain or discomfort, signifying excessive stress on the affected parts of the body. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, or if you experienced any back or pelvic pain while you were pregnant.