Mind & Body
Ways To Get Back In Shape After Pregnancy
The period immediately after childbirth can be quite a whirlwind – the emotional roller-coaster, sleep deprivation, and the stressful attempt to combine being a new mother with other life responsibilities. But that’s not all; you now have to come to some terms with what your body looks like when you see yourself in the mirror – a far cry from nine months ago. Now isn’t the time to push the panic button or hate yourself.
The good news is there are loads you can do to get back to what you once looked like, if not better. You also need to understand that you don’t have to put too much strain on yourself. So, do you feel less than impressed about your postpartum baby weight? Are you desperate to get back in shape? Then wave goodbye to the pity party and say hello to these tips.
- Give your body enough time to recuperate
Although you would want to, the last thing you should do is rush into a fitness regime right after giving birth. You need to understand that straining yourself immediately after delivery will do you more harm than good. Understandably, you would want to look your best. However, your priority is to be a good mom to your little bundle of joy. Feeding a newborn, keeping them company, convincing your little one that sleep-time doesn’t mean betrayal, and so on will all demand a significant chunk of your time, if not all of it.
In addition, your body is in repair mode during this period. Therefore, you should give yourself the chance to recuperate by being patient about going back to the gym. How long should you wait? According to experts, six weeks after your delivery should be more than enough time to give your body (and mind) the rest it needs. Understand that it will take time for your body to heal fully, and be patient with the process. In the meantime, love yourself, and shower all your love on the precious little gift.
- Create a healthy diet
While your body recovers, you also need to ensure that you’re putting the right stuff into your system to support the healing process. You must make sure that you are getting all the essential nutrients and taking in enough calories. If you’re breastfeeding, your body may need about 2000 calories or more in a day. While increasing your calorie count, you should also be careful not to take in too much fat, as you don’t want to get overweight. It doesn’t sound effortless, but it’s not. Just avoid consuming high-fat foods and add a lot of fiber to your meals. If you’re craving snacks, opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead of reaching for those chips, biscuits, and ice cream. You might also want to avoid most carbonated drinks out there, as they are loaded with sugar. All these may sound like food torture, but you’ll be glad you stuck to it.
- Go on frequent walks
As soon as you get the go-ahead from your doctor, you can start getting active. No need to do anything strenuous, though. You can start by taking regular walks, as this will help get your body burning those excess fats and calories. Short walks around your home or block should be more than enough to start with. Most new mothers are not physically ready to take on any strenuous exercise for at least the first six weeks after giving birth – and even longer if they had to go through a C section. You can start walking and gradually increase your walks between 200-30 minutes about five times a week. When you hit the sixth week after delivery, be sure to check in once again with your doctor to give you the green light to take on more physical activities.
You need to breastfeed. Aside from giving your little guy the yum-yum they want, breastfeeding can help you burn approximately 800 calories a day. As much as this will give your weight loss attempt the needed boost, it would help if you also remembered that your body would need an extra 500 calories a day when breastfeeding.
The best thing you can do is to try sourcing your calories from different healthy food options. That way, you wouldn’t have to run to those unhealthy drinks. Once you stop breastfeeding, your calorie count will drop. Try creating a healthy meal plan that allows you to add different healthy calorie sources to your diet.
- Try some strength exercises
After getting the green light from your doctor, one area you want to start working on is your strength, focusing on restoring strength and building a solid core area. The reason to target this area first is that most women tend to neglect their core during pregnancy and postpartum.
Even if you feel very athletic or already had strong core muscles before your pregnancy, you lose that strength. Remember, you carried quite some weight for some months in this area. Plus, the pregnancy will cause your muscles to stretch out and attenuate.
Some strength exercises you can try include lunges with triceps extensions and squats with shoulder raises. The primary purpose of such workouts is to help get your heart beating and blood pumping while breaking some sweat. You can also try running on a treadmill, or better still, hit the outdoors for a run. You can also go online to find different workout options that will help boost your strength. Only be sure to focus your search on workouts ideal for the postpartum stage.
- Some other workouts you can try
In addition to your strength and cardio workouts, you can try other exercises that strengthen your core and work on your abs. You can start with a slow and straightforward pelvic tilt, like a modified sit-up form. Please note that if you had a C section, you’d need medical clearance from your doctor.
Okay, back to the pelvic tilt. Squeeze and tighten your butts for a few seconds, then relax. You can also place a pillow between your knees and repeat the process. This simple exercise will help you strengthen your core while working on your back at the same time.
You can also try some basic crunches to help strengthen your midsection while working on your abs.
- It’s a process: take your time with it
It is crucial to ensure that you don’t push yourself too hard or try to do too much in a short period, hoping to get back in shape at the quickest possible time. You’ll most likely find yourself exhausted most of the time and breaking down quickly instead of the opposite. And that means you might even end up carrying your baby weight for much longer. Remember that there is no quick way to get the results you want. It’s a process, so you should take your time with it.
Believe it or not, post-pregnancy workouts can do more than work on your body. Experts suggest that such exercises can also help battle depressive symptoms or significantly lower your chances of experiencing postpartum depression. If you’re already experiencing postpartum depression or find it difficult to motivate yourself to get back in shape, you can always join a local support group in your area. Sometimes doing it all by yourself can make the process a bit challenging. Support from others like you can give you the strength to continue making it imperative to form good networks.