Postpartum Exercises for New Moms - Not Just About Getting In Shape - Nancy Branberg
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Postpartum Exercises for New Moms – Not Just About Getting In Shape

Postpartum exercises are often overlooked by so many women. When you welcome a new baby into the world, they bring with them joy, love, and a whole new range of life experiences. However, the postpartum period is also a time of adjustment, healing, and caring for yourself and your newborn. So, if you’re a new mom looking to begin some form of exercise, this blog post is for you.

In it, we discuss safe and effective postpartum exercises to help you feel your best and recover well after childbirth. However, before you start any exercise routine, please consult your healthcare provider to check that your body is ready for physical activity. But even when you get the green light, you should start slowly and listen to your body. Pushing through the pain and pushing your body to its limit does not apply to the postpartum period.

Postpartum Exercising – The Quick How To

When it comes to postpartum exercises, the key is to reintroduce physical activity gradually and gently. When you return to exercise, consider the immense changes your body has gone through during pregnancy and childbirth. It’s generally safe to begin exercising after your doctor or midwife gives you the go-ahead (usually during your 6-week postpartum check-up). However, you may be able to start a little sooner if you continued with exercise and an active lifestyle during your pregnancy.

But don’t take any chances. It’s crucial to listen to your body and understand that it’s not about bouncing back quickly but rebuilding your strength and wellness sustainably that respects what your body has been through and the natural healing process.

Here are some pointers for reintroducing exercise postpartum

Start Slowly: Begin with light activities such as walking, pelvic floor exercises, or gentle stretching. These activities help promote circulation and are less taxing on your recovering body.

Focus on Core Strength: Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your core and pelvic floor muscles. Incorporate exercises that help strengthen these areas, like modified planks, pelvic tilts, or Kegel exercises.

Incorporate Low-Impact Exercises: Low-impact exercises like swimming, aqua aerobics, or stationary cycling can all raise your heart rate without too much pressure and stress on your joints.

Avoid High-Impact Workouts Initially: Activities that involve running, jumping, or heavy lifting may be too strenuous and not great for your pelvic floor right after giving birth. Waiting until your body is stronger and healing well before engaging in high-impact exercises is important.

Hydrate and Eat Well: Keep your body well-hydrated, especially if you’re breastfeeding, and eat a balanced diet to support your recovery and energy needs.

Monitor Your Body’s Response: Be alert to unusual pain or discomfort during or after exercising. Stop anything that causes you pain or doesn’t feel right, and consult your doctor.

Be Mindful of Relaxin: During pregnancy and postpartum, your body produces a hormone called “relaxin” that loosens ligaments and joints. This can increase your risk of injury, so avoid over-stretching or forceful impacts.

Get Professional Advice: A postnatal physical therapist specializing in postpartum care can help design a workout plan that suits your body’s needs and respects the natural healing process.

Postpartum Depression (PPD): If you experience symptoms of PPD, gentle exercise may help improve your mood by increasing endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants. However, you should also seek professional help for a comprehensive postpartum depression treatment plan.

Respect Your Recovery: Every woman’s body and recovery times vary greatly. Grant yourself grace and patience as you return to and baby postpartum exercise routine

Additional blogs by Nancy Branberg

Osteoporosis Management for Women

Breast Cancer Rehabilitation – Physical Therapy After Surgery

How To Fix Pelvic Floor Tension

Postpartum Exercise Examples

Postpartum exercises offer numerous benefits, from boosting mood and energy to supporting physical recovery. Specific areas of your body require support and strengthening after pregnancy and childbirth, so it’s helpful to consider these when planning a postpartum exercise routine. You may need to switch up what you did to stay fit and healthy before getting pregnant to support your post-pregnancy body.

Here are some examples of the types of exercises that can be helpful postpartum:

Pelvic floor Strengthening: Your pelvic floor can be weakened after childbirth, so when you begin exercising after childbirth, it’s crucial to begin pelvic floor strengthening exercises targeting this area. You can strengthen your pelvic floor at home with Kegel exercises, but ideally, seek support from a pelvic floor physical therapist who can teach you how to do these exercises properly.

How To Do Kegel Exercises:

– Start by squeezing the muscles you use to stop urinating mid-flow.
– Hold for about 4/5 seconds, then relax for 4/5 seconds.
– Aim for roughly three sets of 10 repetitions daily.

Abdominal Bracing: You can begin gently activating your core muscles soon (6 weeks+) after you deliver your baby with abdominal bracing, which is proven to support spinal health and reduce pregnancy-induced lower back pain.

How To Brace Your Abs:

– Lie with your knees up at 90 degrees and your feet on the floor.
– Exhale and gently draw your belly button towards your spine.
– Hold the contraction for up to 10 seconds at a time, then release.

Walking is a low-impact postpartum exercise that can boost cardiovascular fitness, reduce stress, and improve mood as you’re adjusting to life with a new baby. It’s an excellent postpartum exercise to do with your baby, as you can take them along in their stroller. It can also be a great way to get them to take a nap, as the movement and fresh air can encourage sleep. Start with just 5-10 minutes of leisurely walking and gradually increase the time and pace if you’re comfortable.

Stretching and Mobility: Stretching can reduce muscle tension and improve your flexibility, making it easier to handle the physical demands of new motherhood. Try A Gentle Yoga or Stretching class, by looking for postnatal yoga or stretching sessions focused on new mothers. Online classes can also be an option if leaving home is a challenge.

After your initial recovery phase and with professional approval, you can add more structured exercises. Resistance training helps with muscle tone restoration and increases metabolism.

Try Bodyweight Exercises like squats, wall push-ups, and leg lifts. Always focus on good form to prevent injury. A postpartum physical therapist or personal trainer can help you with this.
Cardiovascular Exercise is a great way of boosting your heart rate benefits your health and can increase your energy levels.

Low-impact postpartum exercises such as aqua aerobics, cycling, and dancing are all great ways to increase your heart rate while minimizing impact on the body.

do postpartum exercises for the health benefitsTips for Success With Postpartum Exercises

Set Realistic Goals: Your body has undergone significant changes. Be kind to yourself and set achievable, incremental goals. Don’t push yourself too hard too soon, as you may be more susceptible to injury, which can further delay your results.

Hydrate and Eat Well: Water intake—particularly if breastfeeding—and quality nutrition are essential components of your postpartum fitness plan. Your body needs fuel to heal, so now is not the time for a restrictive diet.

Incorporate Your Baby: Engage in exercises that allow you to involve your baby, creating additional opportunities for bonding.

Seek Support: Join postnatal groups or online communities to motivate and share experiences with other women.

Remember, resuming exercise after childbirth is just one piece of an overall self-care strategy. Combining physical activity with proper rest, good nutrition, and emotional support is essential for a healthy postpartum period. Always check with your doctor or a physical therapist before starting any new exercise program after childbirth to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for you.

Most importantly, honor your pace, mind your body’s signals, and enjoy this special time with your little one. Your health and well-being are equally as precious as the new life you’re nurturing.
Reminder: This article is for information purposes only. Before starting a postpartum exercise regimen, please consult a physical therapist for personalized advice. If you have questions or need support, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We specialize in women’s health and pre-and postnatal exercise.

How Can Postpartum Physical Therapy Help With Recovery?

The postpartum period can often be riddled with physical challenges, setbacks, and unexpected changes to your body. Postpartum exercises and physical therapy can greatly support postnatal recovery, offering you a structured approach to regain your health and wellness. It is a specialized form of rehabilitation designed to address the specific needs of your body following childbirth. From muscular and skeletal changes to managing pelvic floor issues and lactation-related concerns, the postpartum body demands careful and specialized attention.

This isn’t just about losing the “baby weight” but rather about addressing the complex aftermath of pregnancy and childbirth – rebuilding your strength, addressing pain, and healing trauma.

Book a free consultation to find out more.

Nancy Branberg

Nancy Branberg

Nancy has long had a passion for helping people - especially those who felt they were powerless over their pain. After becoming a mom and having her own “child-birth” traumas to deal with, Nancy became interested in learning about the pelvis - not just the musculo-skeletal system, but the reproductive and digestive system as well. Every day she is amazed by the complexity and the inter-relatedness of all the systems. Nancy is Fall Church’s leading physical therapist who is able to help you overcome these problems without medication or surgery. Nancy Branberg Physical Therapy, LLC empowers women to take control of their pelvic issues so that their energy and attention can shift towards doing all of the things they love to do.
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