The most important guideline is to start out slowly. Getting back in shape is not something you can rush. It's taken nine months for you to gain your pregnancy weight, so it will take time to lose it, too. Your body has done a wonderful job of growing your baby and bringing her into the world, so give it a chance to recover!
If you've had a caesarean section, it may take even longer. Your stitches have to completely heal before you begin any type of exercise. A lot will also depend on your decision to follow post-delivery confinement. There are several restrictions for a new mum during the first 40 days after birth.
Elders may insist you eat special calorie-rich foods, stay away from any physical activities and rest as much as you can. This might temporarily put your fitness plans on hold. In any case, most doctors advise waiting until after your postnatal check-up (usually six weeks after delivery) to start a proper exercise routine.
Most new mums can begin walking and doing pelvic floor exercises and lower tummy muscle exercises (not sit-ups) almost straightaway. Some do it even during their confinement period. Strengthening your pelvic floor is the best way to help prevent urinary incontinence (urine leaks).
Once you get the green light from your doctor, any type of aerobic exercise will help you shed the extra kilos. Some popular and effective choices are:
- stationary cycling
However, don't go swimming until you've had seven days without any vaginal bleeding to prevent picking up an infection.
With a newborn, finding the time to fit exercise into your daily routine can be difficult. Try to do three 10-minute sessions throughout the day if you can't fit in a full 30 minutes in one go. And find an activity that you enjoy and look forward to so exercise isn't a chore.
Exercises that can be done with your baby are often easier to fit into your routine. Some mothers put their baby in a sling and do some simple dance movements to music. You may want to join a postnatal exercise or a mum and baby yoga class. Walking is a good option and will increase your circulation and give your body a gentle workout. Being out and about with your baby can improve your mood as well as your fitness.
Find out how you can make a buggy walk a workout. Try to build up to about an hour of continuous walking, four to five days a week. Once you can walk comfortably for 20 minutes, start to increase your speed. Focus on fast arm and leg movements that make your heart beat faster.
Allow yourself to get a little of breath but still be able to hold a conversation. Walking a mile (1.6kms) in 15 minutes is a good pace to burn fat and exercise your heart and lungs. Carrying a pedometer and monitoring how much walking you do during the day can motivate you to walk more, and help you to lose weight. If you don't have time to hit the gym, try an exercise DVD at home.
Time your exercise sessions for when your baby takes a nap. If she's older, put your baby in a high chair, or playpen while you exercise. Be reassured that combining breastfeeding with healthy eating and regular exercise will help you to gradually lose weight. Try to be patient, and keep these tips in mind as you work toward your goal:
Stick to weighing yourself once a week to reduce the stress of slow weight loss.
If you're new to the joy of exercise, start slowly and increase your intensity and duration over time. If you exercise too hard and too soon after delivery, your vaginal flow (lochia) may get heavier or turn bright red.
If you're breastfeeding, exercise after feeding your baby or express breastmilk before you exercise. Moving about with full breasts can be uncomfortable. Wearing a sports bra over your nursing bra may help provide extra support.
Eat a healthy well balanced diet. Remember that dieting or removing important food groups from your diet can do more harm than good and you're more likely to be tired and listless.
Get a massage or visit the beauty parlour. Taking a break from the daily grind may help you feel refreshed and more willing to work out.
Try meditation as it may help with any stress you may have related to your changing body and being a new mum. You may feel more inclined to accept the slow process of weight loss and chances are you'll stay more committed to losing weight.
Joining an exercise group is a great way to keep fit and meet new mums. You can also get support from other mums on our community forums. Join the fitness and weight-loss after birth group to exchange tips
Talk to your husband and family members about your need to exercise, so they can support you. Even looking after your baby for 30 minutes while you take a short walk will make a difference. You may want to explore the option of walking together with your husband. This way you will both get some exercise while spending time together.
If you do things slowly and steadily, the weight is more likely to stay off, and you will be more able to maintain your fitness levels.