Getting Back Into Shape
In most cases, it is recommended to wait at least two to three weeks after giving birth before beginning heavy exercise. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Begin with a 15-minute stretching program to improve flexibility in your joints and tendons. Make sure you really stretch your lower back, hips and inner thighs.

Gradually add aerobic exercise to your stretching program. Begin with five minutes of aerobic exercise. After two weeks, add another 10 minutes. Walking is great and can be done with your infant in a stroller or baby jogger. Hills may be hard on your back while pushing a stroller, so slow your pace on inclines. If you have home-exercise equipment, use a treadmill, exercise bike or even a step to do the aerobic portion of your exercise regimen.

Try to build up to three days of aerobic training per week. Increase the duration and intensity of the exercise as the weeks progress using this sequence: Warm up for five minutes at a comfortable pace. Do five minutes at a faster-paced intensity. Cool down slowly for five minutes. Each week, increase the faster-paced period by two minutes. Within six weeks, you should reach 25 minutes of aerobic exercise.

Strengthen abdominal and pelvic muscles to help maintain correct posture and reduce strain on the ligaments. Start with “pelvic tilts” (doing just three sets of 10 pelvic tilts is a great beginning) and later add “abdominal crunches.”

Build muscle strength and mass to more efficiently burn fat. Concentrate on weight-training exercises to strengthen the muscles in the mid-back and shoulder area and to improve posture while breastfeeding. These exercises will help to counteract “postpartum frump,” which many new moms develop from carrying 15-plus pounds of baby. Such upper-body exercises can be performed with elastic bands or tubing or handheld weights.

Getting Help
Proper weight training requires the expertise of a qualified trainer to evaluate and design a program appropriate to your medical history and present goals. Find a trainer with experience working with postpartum women. Make sure that the trainer is certified by the
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE) or Aerobics Fitness Association of America (AFAA), or holds a degree in exercise science.

Getting into an exercise regimen is important for a new mom’s physical health, mental health and self-image. Start slowly and gradually work your way toward overall good health and fitness.

Pregnancy Pounds in Perspective
How much weight women gain during pregnancy varies greatly. The rate at which you shed those pounds after giving birth also varies quite a bit. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you strive to get back to your old self:

Women lose approximately half of the weight they gain during pregnancy when they deliver their baby.

Most of the remaining weight is retained fluid, which women usually lose over the next few weeks through increased urination and perspiration.

The rest of the weight is stored fat – calories for milk production.

How you shed the final pounds depends on how much weight you gained during pregnancy and your postpartum nutrition and exercise program. Most women return to their normal weight before pregnancy within about nine months to a year after giving birth.

More about Postpartum Recovery:

"">Speed Your Postpartum Recovery

  • Managing Your Postpartum Needs
  • Advertisment