The first question you will ask yourself as a new mom is, “Will I be a good mother?”
The second biggest question you will ask yourself as a new mom is, Will I be able to get back into shape after I give birth? The truth is, yes, you can get back into pre-pregnancy shape and, if you desire, you can get yourself into even better shape than you were in before your pregnancy.
One of the biggest myths you must get past is the classic, The doctor said I have to wait six weeks before I do any kind of exercise. Under certain circumstances this is a valid rule. For instance, your pregnancy may have occurred later in life or you experienced complications during your pregnancy and/or the actual birth of your baby.
If you fall into this category you should communicate with you doctor regarding your desire to exercise and abide by her recommendations.
But, if you had an uncomplicated, normal pregnancy there should be no reason why you cant start working out twenty four hours after you give birth. So as not to mislead you, lets define working out as it applies to you at this stage of the game.
You are clearly not ready to jump into a full scale fitness program one day after giving birth. But you can and should begin doing gentle isometrics (contract a muscle, hold it for a few seconds & then release it) and Kegels. Of course, you should consult with your doctor before starting just so she is aware of what you are doing. She may also have some valuable input.
Before you leave the hospital ask the doctor about the condition of your rectus abdominus. These are the two muscles that run parallel to each other from the pubic area up to the diaphragm. During some pregnancies the connective tissue between these two muscles tears and separates. If this is your case ask your doctor how you can help them reconnect and heal faster. This will be necessary in order for you to add the next few exercises to your routine.
If your ab muscles did not separate, which should be confirmed by your OBGYN, then you can add the pelvic tilt to your new exercise routine. This is one of the most basic exercises for the core. It should also be safe to add a modified abdominal exercise. Starting with a pelvic tilt and then lifting the head and top of the shoulder blades by curling forward slightly as you breathe out. Then return to neutral as you breathe in – repeat with same form.
It is generally safe to add several lower body exercises at this point. I always advise clients to run these by their OBGYN before trying them out.
Lying on your back, on a soft, comfortable surface, keep one leg bent with your foot on the floor while the other leg is flat on the ground. Bring the knee of the leg that is flat toward you by bending it and then lift that same foot off the ground and toward the sky. Then bring it back down by retracing the moves in reverse so you end up at the start position.
The second exercise is known as the square. Starting in the same position as the first exercise, lift the straight leg off the ground by about twelve inches or so. Then slowly trace the shape a square in the air with your toes. Keep the square small at first and as you get stronger, you can increase the size of the square. Move slowly and focus on form.
You should be able to start a power-walking program several weeks, if not sooner, after you give birth. There is usually no good reason (unless you had a complicated pregnancy) to wait six weeks post delivery to start a walking program. Of course, you should discuss this with your OGYN before getting started.
At six weeks after delivery you can start to push your fitness program to a higher level by incorporating aerobic work, such as light jogging, and some resistance training with a combination of body-weight and light dumbbell exercises. Also, remember to include stretching exercises for optimal flexibility and range of motion.
The aim of this article is to help you understand that most OBGYNs are conservative when it comes to answering a new mother’s questions about workoing out. It is easy for the doctor to play it safe, and advise you to wait six weeks before starting your fitness routine. However, if you show your OBGYN the exact exercise program that you wish to follow, he will most likely realize that you have done your homework and should give you the clearance to the start of your post pregnancy exercise program.
Regarding the first question you asked your self, Will I be a good mother? Exercising after delivery will automatically make you a better mother for two big reasons:
1) You’ll be setting a priceless example for your baby that is highly likely to rub off on him and have a powerful impact on how he chooses to live his life.
2) You’ll be stronger, healthier and more energetic. These are three priceless elements for any new mother.
Don’t allow your new baby to become an excuse for not exercising. Rather, let your baby help motivate you to take better care of yourself by following a simple and gradual post-pregnancy fitness plan. The example you set will be a true gift that cannot be delivered any other way.