In our last blog post, we talked about ways a mother can stay fit during pregnancy. This time, we will offer up some tips for how you can recapture your pre-pregnancy physique.
1) First, you have to remember that physical fitness takes time — there are no shortcuts. Trying to rush too quickly can be dangerous to you and your family, so be patient and set realistic expectations.
2) As always, you should get your doctor’s approval before you start exercising. Unless you have health issues, generally light to moderate intensity aerobic exercise such as walking is safe after 4-6 weeks. If you encountered diastisis recti during pregnancy, check with your doctor about the best way to recover from that.
3) Good, gentle exercises to start with include kegels, pelvic tilts, gentle stretches on the floor, curls, and bridges.
4) As you progress and are ready to add a weight training routine back in to your exercise, start over with your weight training routine. After you get the okay from your doctor to resume exercise, begin with 1 set of 10-15 reps of 8 to 10 exercises 1-2 days a week.
5) Breathing is always important when working out, but after a pregnancy, it becomes even more important. Proper breathing techniques that expand your abdomen as you inhale and flatten your chest and tighten your abdominal wall as you exhale will help get your abdominal muscles back in shape after pregnancy.
6) Take it easy on your abs! Even though you want your pre- pregnancy tummy back ASAP, you have to give it time. Your rectus abdominus (the large abdominal muscle that runs from your breast bone to pelvis) has been stretched and weakened for 9 months! Start with exercises that target your transverse abdominal muscles like planks and progress to crunches slowly.
Above all, enjoy the time you have with your child. Getting yourself back into a fitness routine after childbirth not only helps fight the “baby blues” and postpartum depression, but it also releases endorphins that can have a positive effect on the entire family.
This blog post is the second in a two-part series guest authored by Julie Drake and Leeann Marcie from the University of Texas at Austin’s Fitness Institute of Texas.