A Guide to Exercise After Pregnancy

We’ve already talked about exercising while pregnant, but what about getting back into shape after your baby is born? Articles in magazines are filled with celebrities sharing their stories about their “post-baby bodies.” Just remember not to get overwhelmed. Besides aesthetics, there are many benefits to exercise after pregnancy. These include boosting energy, promoting better sleep, preventing postpartum depression, relieving stress and strengthening and toning your muscles.

After pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.” They define aerobic activity as moving large muscles of your body such as your arms or legs in a rhythmic way. They define moderate-intensity as exercising enough to raise your heart rate and sweat; you should be able to talk normally, but not sing. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include fast walking or biking on a level surface. Local gyms, fitness clubs or community centers may have classes (including those special for postpartum women).

Any amount of exercise after pregnancy is good whether it’s 10, 20 or 30 minutes each day. Start with simple exercises and work your way to moderate-intensity workouts. Wear loose-fitting clothes, make sure you wear a bra that offers plenty of support and have water nearby to stay hydrated. If you’re breastfeeding, try and feed your baby beforehand or pump to avoid any discomfort if your breasts become engorged. Make sure that your warm up your muscles and stretch before working out and cool down and also stretch afterwards.

A few factors come into play when determining when you can start exercise after pregnancy. If you had a healthy pregnancy with a normal vaginal delivery, ACOG says it’s usually safe to start exercising a few days after you give birth. However, complications such as a cesarean birth may require more recovery time. If you were very active before pregnancy, it’s more likely that you can return more quickly to your regular workouts sooner after the baby is born. However, we recommend that you reach out to your healthcare provider for their guidance and approval in any case.

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