Shaping Up After Birth

Your glorious moment has come and gone. Now you have to face the harsh realities of coping with your baby and the extra flabs you’ve accummulated during pregnancy. For new mothers, this may be more than what they may have bargained for, and it can be very distressing especially when they catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. Getting back into pre-pregnancy shape is perhaps as high on their priority list, if not higher, as taking care of the baby.

Experienced mothers know that returning to their pre-pregnancy shape or weight is a tedious, though not impossible task. It takes time and effort, plus a lot of determination and self discipline.

Regaining your figure is a problem even for women who don’t gain a lot of weight. No one comes out of the delivery room looking slimmer than when they went in, except for a few very lucky ones. Part of the reason for that protruding abdomen after birth is the still-enlarged uterus. Another reason is the leftover fluids and the stretched-out abdominal muscles and skin, which may sag for a lifetime unless a concerted effort is made.

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Easing Into Exercise

As a general rule, it is best to wait six weeks before returning to a strenous exercise routine. But if you gave birth vaginally with no complications, you can start a simple regimen such as daily walking a few days after giving birth. Six weeks after an uncomplicated birth, you can begin more vigorous exercises such as swimming, jogging or even weightlifting.

For women who have had a Caesarean section, they will need more time to rest before working up to a normal routine within three months. They also have to be extra cautious about resuming abdominal exercises and should consult their doctor before starting any exercise regime.

The following ground rules for postpartum exercises are targeted at healthy women who have had uncomplicated vaginal deliveries:

  • Start each exercise with a warm-up.
  • Keep your exercise session brief and frequent rather than one long session recovery time.
  • Take short rests between exercises (the muscle build-up occurs then, not while you are in motion).
  • Don’t exercise more than recommended, even if you feel you can.
  • Quit before you feel tired. If you overdo it, you may develop a dislike for exercise or be unable to exercise again.
  • Do not do knee-chest exercises, full sit-ups or double leg lifts during the six-week postpartum period.

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