All pregnant women know what it feels like to have a lot of extra weight to carry around. During pregnancy it’s a wonderful thing. You know that what is coming is worth the extra strain and effort required to have that extra weight. The trouble starts after you give birth. Getting your pre-pregnancy figure back is not something to put off. Even though you have a lot on your mind and many new duties to take care of, this isn’t the time to let your own health slide.
The extra pounds you gain during pregnancy are more likely to become permanent weight gain if not worked off within a few months. I know how hard it is. I never had weight problems before getting pregnant with my first child. During pregnancy I gained a little more weight than I should have, but I didn’t worry about it. I was thrilled being pregnant and was sure it would fall off easily after the baby was born. Of course it would, I would have so many things to do, and be so busy. That’s a common belief that many women have, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.
It isn’t uncommon for women to end up with ten to twelve extra pounds that become permanent weight gain after a baby is born. That may not seem like a horrible amount of weight. The problem is those pounds don’t like to be lonely and they bring friends from time to time.
After my first child I was a little more than ten pounds overweight, but I was so happy I didn’t pay attention. That was a mistake. Ten became eleven. Eleven became twelve and slowly the weight crept up. It’s easy to ignore when you’re busy taking care of your new baby. Women who are overweight prior to pregnancy are even more prone to gaining additional weight in the following years after having their child.
By the time I was pregnant again with my second child I was already scraping the obesity bar. By then I was alarmed, but felt more helpless, and I have to admit a little discouraged as well. Instead of giving up, I became determined not to gain too much extra weight with that pregnancy and started a reasonable workout program and paid attention to what I was eating.
Once the second baby was born, I kept up with the exercise and found out there were a lot of extra benefits to working out after having a baby. I had more energy and felt better about myself too.
Why Women should Exercise after having a Baby
Exercise is very important to a healthy lifestyle. Creating that healthy atmosphere also helps your children develop the healthy attitudes and traits that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
In addition, exercising following childbirth helps new moms in many ways, including:
- Reduced post-partum depression
- Reduced risk of midlife obesity
- Better sleep so you can deal with the extra stress of caring for your baby
- Faster recovery from birth
When can you Start Exercising following Childbirth?
Of course you should follow your doctor’s advice regarding activities after having a baby. Along with your doctor’s advice, pay attention to your body and start slowly to avoid injuring yourself.
After a normal, healthy delivery, you can actually start mild exercises as soon as a day after you give birth. Start out with those Kegels you know so well, and do pelvic tilts while still in bed. This will help you regain control over those overstretched muscles.
As soon as you are able to walk, you can begin gradually increasing the length of your walks to get aerobic, toning exercise. A more strenuous exercise program can usually begin between six to eight weeks after childbirth. For new moms who have had a Caesarean birth, the same methods apply, but you will need to be more careful and go more slowly even with the early mild exercises. Talk to your doctor about when to begin more strenuous workouts, and expect it to take between eight and ten weeks.
4 Great Exercises You Can Do To Get in Shape after Childbirth
Following are 4 great abdominal exercises to help you tighten your midsection after pregnancy. Many thanks to Carol Ann for demonstrating these exercises for us. She has a Master’s Degree in exercise science and 20 years of professional fitness training experience. You can find a library of exercise demos that target every area of the body at WeightWatchers.com (Use this Weight Watchers promo code to wave the sign up fee).
You can perform each exercise for 20 repetitions, but you can start with less and go at your own pace. Make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath during each repetition.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Clasp your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides. Slowly bring your head up, rounding your back until your shoulders are off the floor while lifting your knees and bringing them in toward your head. At t his point your elbows almost touch your knees. Release and return to your original position. Inhale as you tense your muscles, exhale as you release. Don’t over strain. Take your time and do these crunches nice and slow and easy so you do not aggravate any tearing of the stomach muscles that may have occurred during childbirth. Crunches are a great abdominal exercise.
Lie on your back with your knees bent above your hips so that your thighs will form a 90-degree angle to your torso, and your shins a 90-degree angle to your thighs. Place your arms at your sides with your palms flat on the floor next to your hips. Inhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor behind your buttocks, keeping the 90-degree angle between shins and thighs. Once our feet almost touch the ground, exhale as you lift them back to the original position. Make sure you keep your lower back pressed against the floor as you lower your feet and lift them again. This exercise activates the muscles of the abdomen and thighs.
Lie flat on your back with your knees in the air above your hips and your feet straight out. Lift your hands in the air above your chest and hold them straight. You will be working your opposite arm and leg each time. Begin by lowering your left arm back behind your head, keeping your elbow straight, while extending your right leg straight out and lowering it to the floor, until it is parallel to the floor. Pull your leg and arm back to the original position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg combination. Remember to inhale as you extend the arm and leg and exhale as you bring them back to the starting position.
Lie on your back with your feet together and legs straight out on the floor. Clasp your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides. Slowly twist and bring one elbow across to the center of your body while lifting the opposite knee to meet it. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Remember to breathe evenly throughout the exercise.
While exercise is important, remember that a healthy diet and aerobic exercise will help you increase your weight loss goals. Even though your stomach may be your focal point, there is no such thing as spot fat reduction. Focus more on burning fat by eating less than you burn. Strengthening your muscles to gain muscle mass will increase your fat burning efficiency.
Carol Ann advises: “Get lots of cardio. You might want to start with a gentle walk and build up your time to about 30 minutes. You can perform that 3-5 days a week. This is going to set you in a nice, healthy path to losing weight.”
So, don’t forget: diet, abdominal exercises, and cardio. That’s how you are going to lose your after pregnancy fast. And you can do it all at home.
By Tami Parington
Tami is a mother, writer, and Internet entrepreneur who works from home. She enjoys writing as much as working out. Her goal is to lose 10 pounds by summer.