Being active is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy throughout life and is very important during and after pregnancy.
Exercising regularly can:
- Boost your energy at a time when you may feel tired
- Help you to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
- Strengthen your muscles
- Decrease the risk of urinary incontinence
- Improve your mood and help prevent postpartum depression (or relapse)
- Decrease and manage stress
- Provide an opportunity to socialize
Giving birth and caring for your baby is fatiguing. Start with short and less intense activities and gradually increase length or intensity.
Before starting or getting back to physical activity after having a baby, check with your doctor or midwife to find out about any restrictions (particularly if you had a c-section or complicated delivery).
Ideas to begin or return to being active:
- Exercise with your baby. Take a daily walk with your newborn in a stroller or baby carrier. Or, if you’re doing exercises at home on the floor, your baby can be lay next to you.
- Drop-in to a low-intensity land- or water-based aerobics class.
- Do Kegel exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Perform pelvic tilt exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
A few things to keep in mind:
- If you had a caesarean delivery (c-section), there may be more limitations while your wound is healing (check with your doctor or midwife).
- Changes in your hormones can make you feel more emotional and some days you may not feel like getting off the couch. Enlist the support of your partner or friend to exercise with you and to help you stay motivated.
- Schedule it and keep the commitment to yourself. It’s not easy to get started, but remember you’ll feel better afterwards.
- If the flow of your bleeding increases during or after exercise, slow down or shorten your workout as needed.
- Moderate-intensity exercise does not affect the quantity or quality of breast milk. Consider breastfeeding or pumping before exercise to avoid discomfort.
Set a goal to fit activity into your routine every day, even if it’s just a walk around the block on days you’re feeling tired. It will give an energy boost to help you care for your baby and is an important part of your recovery and self-care. Being physically active also sets a great example for your kids!
If you have questions about having a physically active lifestyle after pregnancy, call us at the Physical Activity Line, 8-1-1.