Many women are concerned that pregnancy may compromise their looks and cause irreparable aesthetic damage. Athletes are even more concerned about not being able to get back to practicing their favorite sport after delivery. But a postpartum workout plan can help you get back in shape without compromising your health.
A thing to know is that any postpartum workout should begin with pre-birth training. Physical activity not only makes birth less traumatic but it improves the recovery capacity after delivery.
Accompanied by adequate planning, postpartum workout can also facilitate the regain of a hormonal balance, preventing postpartum depression and a series of other conditions related to health after giving birth.
Here is a three-week training program to get in shape after your baby is born.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING POSTPARTUM TRAINING
Engaging in a more or less drastic training program, perhaps associated with a rough diet, immediately after giving birth is not the best idea. If you haven’t practiced any sports before getting pregnant, is also a bad idea to get into training immediately after giving birth.
Dealing with the stress of sleepless nights and the gym can easily become a hassle unless you’re accustomed to sports.
Modulating your physical activity and nutritional needs in compliance with the physiological and hormonal changes that affect a new mom involves particular precautions. Further precautions should be taken by breastfeeding moms, as their diet shouldn’t interfere with the baby’s needs.
While there are dozens of postpartum workout plans set up by experienced personal trainers and that can be performed at the gym, the three-week schedule proposed in this guide involves simple exercises you can comfortably do at home. In fact, this training program is designed for the first trimester, when it’s not always easy to attend the gym.
However, you should know that neither this nor another program can do miracles. Due to the transformations suffered during pregnancy and labor, it can take up to an year to get back to your pre-natal shape.
That said and before getting to the training program, here are a few circumstances in which you might want to talk to your doctor and with an experienced trainer before exercising after giving birth.
If you had a C-section, it is recommended to avoid training for at least six weeks after giving birth. This is the minimum period necessary for the wound to heal, and during this time you may even have difficulties in holding your baby.
To help your body recover faster, try to walk and stand instead of sitting in the bed. Vaginal blood loss may also occur during this time due to the expulsion of the membranes and to the contraction of the uterus. While this is normal, training during this period can be painful and uncomfortable.
Once your wound has healed, you can perform any type of abdominal training you want.
In addition to standing and walking, there are two simple exercises that can help your pelvic muscles get back in shape and that reactivate your circulation.
For your pelvic muscles, lie down on the floor with your knees bent. Keep the feet slightly apart and in contact with the ground. Lift the pelvis while contracting your buttocks and maintain the position for about 10 seconds. Repeat for ten times.
For your circulation, lay on the bed with your legs stretched. Raise one leg and make a rotation with the ankle, first clockwise, then counterclockwise, 10 times per side. Put down the leg, and repeat the procedure with the other leg.
EPISIOTOMY AND HEMORRHOIDS
In the case of an episiotomy or suturing due to lacerations during childbirth, it’s necessary to wait for the wound to heal before starting any workout. Due to soreness in the pelvic area in the case of a natural birth, we wouldn’t recommend carrying on any exercises until your suture is completely healed.
Hemorrhoids are a frequent occurrence after childbirth and they are often worsened by postpartum constipation. If this happens, just wait until all symptoms are gone before starting training.
During this period, a diet rich in fibers can help.
UTERINE CONTRACTION & BREAST PAIN
Uterine contractions happen naturally after childbirth and are a sign that your uterus its getting back to its original size. However, training during this period can accentuate contractions, thus the discomfort or pain. To avoid this, do some relaxing exercises and stretching, but avoid weight loss training.
Breast pain is another common symptom of women after giving birth. The pain usually occurs in the first week after giving birth and if it’s not too serious, you can train without issues. If you’re breastfeeding, however, it is recommended to only start training after talking to a doctor and an instructor.
It is also essential to avoid training too much during the whole breastfeeding period because lactic acid can compromise both lactation and the taste of your milk.
EDEMA AND FATIGUE
All hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and after giving birth can trigger an accumulation of water in the tissues, which leads to edema. There are no contraindications for training if this happens, but you have to pay attention to your diet and avoid eating too salty foods.
Fatigue is another common symptom after childbirth. If you feel too tired or stressed out, it’s recommended to practice relaxation techniques or meditation, leaving postpartum training for when you’ll feel more energetic.
But enough with the theory. Postpartum workout is important and our training program includes three micro-cycles – or weeks. Once the third week is complete, start training again from the first week and carry on with this training program for the first three months after giving birth.
Although uncomplicated, we advise to seek the supervision of a qualified professional who can adapt the exercises to your circumstances.
THREE-WEEK POSTPARTUM WORKOUT PLAN FOR NEW MOMS
Involving three weekly sessions, this training plan comprises a general heating of the muscles through 10-minute stretching sessions. After the warm-up, continue with the following exercises.
- Plié: stand with your legs apart with the feet facing outwards. Put one hand on a shelf next to you, or on the backrest of a chair, and contract your abdominal muscles while relaxing your shoulders. Keep your back straight and lower yourself until you feel the tension in the adductors. Hold the position for two second and return to the original position. Repeat for ten times.
- Buttock contractions: contract your buttocks for three seconds while standing. Repeat for 12 times.
- Pelvic exercise: lie down on the floor with your knees bent. Keep the feet slightly apart and in contact with the ground. Lift the pelvis while contracting your buttocks and maintain the position for about 10 seconds. Repeat for ten times.
- Abdominal contractions: this exercise can be performed immediately after delivery and you can choose to do it either stretched out, sitting, or standing. Contract your abdominal muscles and keep them contracted for five seconds. Relax while exhaling and repeat for ten times.
- Hip rotation: while standing, rotate your hips from left to right and from right to left, ten times in each direction.
- Arm folds: sit on your kneed on the floor. Keep your back straight and fold your elbows, then straighten them. Repeat for ten times.
The second week includes all exercises of the first week but you should also introduce ten crunches on the mat and ten minutes of mild training on a recumbent bike in each session. If you don’t like stationary bikes, a ten-minute stroll with the baby on a mild slope can have the same effects.
The third week includes all exercises from the first two weeks, plus reverse crunches and dumbbell exercises for your arms and back. Regarding the training sessions, you should still train for three times a week at any time that’s convenient for you.
Once the third week is complete, just rewind and start from the first week again. Follow the same training pattern for the whole first trimester, then you can begin to integrate more complex exercises.
Postpartum workout is an essential step in getting back in shape after delivery. Yet, you shouldn’t exaggerate. Start with simple exercises and build your way to the perfect body you had before getting pregnant.
Also, don’t forget that the postpartum workout in this guide is indicative. We’re not all the same and only a personal trainer can advise you on the best ways to lose weight and gain muscular strength.