After the baby comes, exercise becomes an important issue for most new mothers. The desire to get back into shape is part of women's regaining their old selves and the figure they used to have.
Getting back into physical activity after giving birth is particularly important to avoid long-term damage. However, the wrong type of training can also cause harm.
That’s why it’s important to use careful planning and advice on getting back into shape.
When can you start getting back into shape after having a baby?
Nearly all cultures follow the same stages of post-natal care. There are three distinct phases. These are the regeneration phase, the post-natal recovery phase and a phase of getting back into normal training.
The regeneration phase:
In the first phase during the initial 6-8 weeks immediately after giving birth, a mother needs to rest her body because pregnancy and birth are very physically demanding and can also be stressful experiences. So, taking time away from physical exertion can help.
Also, mothers will use up enough energy taking care of their baby 24-hours a day, breastfeeding, changing nappies and putting their baby to bed. Another important aspect is that a child should be very close to its mother during the first few weeks of its life. This is known as "bonding" and will make the baby stronger. Therefore, a mother’s initial focus needs to be on bonding with her baby with minimal time apart in the early stages.
Post-natal recovery phase:
After 8 weeks, it’s time to start postnatal training and getting back to having a normal body. Strengthening, stretching and toning the body core are the most important points to focus on. This means the pelvic floor, stomach and back areas. Getting back into shape takes about 10 weeks, giving the body time to get back to how it was before giving birth. In some cases, scars and stretch marks can take even longer to heal.
The phase of getting back into normal training:
After the recovery phase, it’s time to being normal training again. However, each mother should do this at the right time for her, selecting the right workouts that suit her individually.
Women often struggle with muscle instability in their back and pelvic floor areas for long periods of time after giving birth and scarring can prolong the recovery phase. It can take between 6 - 12 months until the body has fully recovered from pregnancy and giving birth. Also, it takes women who are breastfeeding longer than those who are not. This is due to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which plays a helpful role in making the connective tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) softer.
Why is post-natal recovery training so important?
While many women want to work on their figures soon after they’ve given birth, many aren’t quite so concerned about this and let themselves go a little, finding it all too strenuous with a new baby. However, working on one's own body is important for health and long-term physical upkeep.
This helps with problems such as tender skin, incontinence, back and pelvic pain, abdominal discomfort, impaired sexual desire, uterine prolapse, fatigue and stamina problems in the early stages. To put 100% into caring for a child, mothers need to be fit. So, recovery training after birth is very important and can minimise long-term damage.
What is important to avoid?
Doing the wrong kind of training at the wrong time should be avoided. Mothers shouldn’t start training as and when they please without taking professional advice. Otherwise, they could be risking long-term pain and damage.
It’s important to take care not to tip over into over-exertion and exhaustion. Sore muscles and challenges are good, but a balanced approach is needed. It’s also important to avoid new sports and exercises that are unfamiliar (except for special postnatal / rehabilitation programmes).
What kind of sport and exercise is best after giving birth?
There are special postnatal programmes, including postnatal gymnastics, yoga and Pilates, all of which involve special gentle exercises that support recovery through strength training, stretching and building endurance. Additionally, there are also many DVDs or YouTube videos on the Internet offering special sessions for mothers who have given birth. These can often be found in ‘postnatal’ or ‘postnatal exercise’ sections.
However, it’s always best to refer to an experienced and professional source. Sport and exercise after childbirth are important and most health insurance companies will fund these. If you want to have a long life and a healthy body, not just a great figure, you should definitely start with postnatal exercise after the recovery phase.