Having a baby is a life-changing experience and it not only affects your body in drastic ways, but also changes your family dynamics in many ways as you have to constantly look after the child. However, to be able to look after your child you’re going to want to look after yourself too. Since your body experiences many changes during pregnancy and childbirth, it often gets a little overwhelming to keep up with your fitness routines after you give birth. We’ve put together seven postpartum fitness tips that can keep you healthy and energized so that you can feel good about yourself as well as get the energy to look after the baby properly:
1. Ease in gently
You don’t want to be doing too much too soon when you start getting back into fitness after giving birth. If you’ve had a baby with a Cesarean birth, you’ll want to wait at least six weeks before looking at doing any type of exercise. In general, you shouldn’t be putting too much pressure on the body; child caring is an exhaustive business and you’ll want plenty of energy set aside to nurture your baby as best as you can. This has its upside though: you’ll likely be living an active life and burning plenty of calories chasing around after them and picking them up, so that will bestow health benefits in and of itself. Make sure your bleeding has leveled off as well because that’s a surefire sign that your body still hasn’t finished the healing process.
2. Eat right
While you are understandably likely to be preoccupied with your baby’s nutritional needs, it’s vital that you don’t neglect your own. You’re going to need plenty of fuel to keep up with the hectic pace of childcare. While it might be tempting to try and grab convenient snacks in a spare moment, try and keep a structure around your eating habits. Good healthy carbs with a low glycemic index rating will give you plenty of energy throughout the day and keep you feeling full, so opt for whole grains, brown rice and sweet potatoes if you can. Remember, your eating habits are eventually going to be absorbed by your child, so if you can keep an eye on yourself and eat healthily, it can pay dividends for your child’s well-being further down the road.
3. Pick the right exercises
When getting back into the swing of exercising it’s a good idea to pick exercises that can have a beneficial effect on the parts of your body that might have been put under strain by the process of giving birth. A place to start with, is the pelvic floor muscle where your thighs meet. It is invariably stretched by natural birth, so start with a Kegel routine to tighten it up. This can also help tighten up your vaginal and cervical canals. A caesarian birth, in contrast, will have led to the separation of your abdominal muscles, so be careful what core exercise you do starting out: try and avoid crunches or intense movement and opt for planks and other gentler stress positions. Swimming is also a great gentle all over workout that can help your pelvic floor and core muscle groups recover faster.
4. Exercise with baby!
You’re going to be getting fit and so you can also take your child along with you. Try and establish a routine of you getting out of the house with your child and taking some gentle exercise. A walk around the park can provide a nice level of cardio and relieve some stress if you start getting cabin fever from being in with your baby all the time. You can use a stroller, or strap your baby to you with a carrier if you feel like breaking a bit more of a sweat. As said before, just from picking the baby up you’re going to find your upper body strength developing. Enjoy the results!
5. Try a Yoga class
If you have the time, try and make some regular visits to your local yoga class. Many now offer specific classes aimed toward postpartum exercises. Yoga is a great all round workout that helps with flexibility and can leave you toned and supple. It’s also fairly gentle and can be developed at any fitness level. As much as anything, yoga is also soothing and good for the holistic development of mind, body and spirit as one. You’re probably going to enjoy the peace and quiet they afford away from the stresses of child bearing. Yoga is also something you can easily practice and develop at home once you’ve got the basics nailed, so take advantage of a flexible exercise you can practice around you and the baby’s schedule.
This can’t be stressed enough. Childcare isn’t easy and there are times where you can feel exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s vital that you regain energy and relax where you can to store some vitality for the exciting challenges ahead. It’s an old adage, but “sleep when the baby sleeps” is a tried and tested motto. If things are getting too much, see if you can entrust the baby’s care to your partner or family members even if it’s just for a few hours. You’ll need to be match fit for the most important job in the world, and even when things seem to be getting stressful, remember that it’s a natural and unavoidable part of your new responsibilities.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Raising a child is a big job, and it’s never down to just one person. Whether it’s dietary, workout or lifestyle advice, don’t be afraid to seek help and go to the experts for information. Keep friends and family close who can provide a support network for you and your baby. The people you really care about will always be willing to help. Get some advice from other mothers as well who have been through it before. Many hands make light work, and undue stress will impact your health and even your child’s if you don’t keep your own well-being a priority. Raising a child is probably the most important thing you will ever do with your life, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your health.