When people tell you that things won’t be the same after you become a mother, they aren’t referring just to your life decisions and choices. They also mean to highlight the physical changes that are a part and parcel of motherhood. You enter this beautiful phase with the hope of making many lasting memories and bringing many positive changes in your life, but things may not be as rosy as you wish they’d be.
Sure being a mother will do a lot to enrich you as a person, but it may also pull down your spirits when you realize that your body’s nothing like it used to be before. It may seem like a herculean task to get back your old body, but it’s not entirely impossible, either. Here are a few body changes that you can expect immediately after pregnancy and ways to deal with them:
1. The Wait Before Exercising After Delivery - With the arrival of your little one, you may be so consumed in your motherly endeavors that getting back in shape may seem like a far fetched dream. As per many Ayurvedic doctors, it is best to start exercising 2-3 months after natural delivery and 4 months after cesarean section.
Hurrying up with exercise and other weight reducing activities may lead to –
a. Reduction of breast milk production
b. weak ligaments, less immunity and probability of uterine prolapse due to weak ligaments, after 40+ years of age.
How to Deal - 3 – 4 months after delivery, you can begin with low-intensity exercises like walking andkegel’s exercise earlier, based on your doctor’s recommendation. These exercises will expedite your recovery as well as the time taken for you to lose your pregnancy weight. The important thing before you begin a full fledged exercise routine is to listen to your body; wait until you think you’ve healed completely before you get on with a heavy-duty workout plan. While it is important for you to get back in shape, it is also important that you take care of your body.
fitness after pregnancy
2. Loosened Joints, Ligaments and Weakened Core -There’s a reason doctors tell women to be careful with their movements during and after pregnancy. The activity of the hormone relaxin increases during pregnancy and continues even a few weeks after delivery. This hormone is responsible for widening of pelvis muscles and loosening of ligaments to help aid childbirth.
How to Deal - Practicing excessive stretching, or intense cardio workouts can worsen this problem. The best solution to ease it is by practicing strengthening exercises throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period. You can also take the help of stabilization belts to steady your hips and pelvis joints. If you experience separated stomach muscles (diastasis recti), practicing regular pelvic floor exercises, gentle stretches, and deep stomach muscle exercises will help reduce the size of the separation. You must also make sure to maintain a good posture after pregnancy.
3. Incontinence And Prolapse - Don’t be surprised if for a few weeks even after delivery you experience a little leakage while coughing, laughing, exercising or sneezing. The activity of the hormones relaxin and progesterone along with the weight of the baby on the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy are the primary causes of incontinence and prolapse. It usually takes between a few weeks to a year for your body to recuperate.
How to Deal – Practicing pelvic floor muscle exercises will help strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and back. These exercises help reduce the incidence of leakage (incontinence) and sagging of the uterus (prolapse).
4. Belly Pooch - Your belly is that part of your body which is most impacted by pregnancy. Your once flat and taut belly turns wiggly and flabby during pregnancy and may remain that way for a couple of months even after pregnancy. It takes up to six weeks for the uterus to contract to its original size that may help decrease the size of your belly.
How to Deal - Practice deep breathing stomach exercises that will help you tone your stomach muscles. Opt for abdominal crunches after 3 – 4 months after delivery. Avoid it within first 3 months, as they can further increase the gap between stomach muscles if you have diastasis recti.
Sagging Breasts - Another common body change that you may experience while nursing owing to hormonal fluctuations is expansion and sagging of breasts.
How to Deal - Exercises like push-ups, chest presses, and chest flies help tone the muscles around the breasts and lift them. Make sure to check with your doctor before your try these exercises.
In an attempt to get rid of your pregnancy flab quickly, don’t opt for extreme measures like crash diets. This will only deprive you and your baby of essential nutrients and can turn out to be hazardous for both of you. Give yourself enough time to recoup from the pregnancy before you turn on the weight loss mode, full throttle. Breastfeeding can also help you lose some weight and burn up to 300 calories per day. Avoid starting any exercise plan without consulting your doctor. If you experience symptoms of postnatal bleeding, vaginal discharge (lochia) and infections, rush to your doctor without any delay. Remember, you need to stay healthy not just for yourself.
Action points – step by step guidance:
Listen to your body, consult your doctor and decide when exactly to start your fitness routine.
Start with walking and very minor exercise for first 2 weeks.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises along with walking and stretching for next 2 weeks.
Chest and upper arm exercises, Pelvic floor exercises, walking / jogging stretching for next 2 weeks.
Abdominal crunches, chest exercises, pelvic exercise, walking / jogging
Full fledged exercise routine of minimum 30 minutes per day, 6 months after childbirth.
Aradhana is from India. She is a veteran writer on topics concerning parenting, child nutrition, wellness, health and lifestyle. As a regular contributor to popular sites like Huffington Post, Natural news, Elephant journal, Thehealthsite, Naturally Savvy, curejoy and MomJunction, Aradhana writes to inspire and motivate people to adopt healthy habits and live a stress-free lifestyle.