Getting back in shape after baby doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, exercising will make you feel good too—it’s been proven to help with postnatal depression. Here are six ways to bounce back.
- Start walking as soon as you can after giving birth (as long as your doctor gives you clearance). This will get your body moving and burning calories. Buy a fitness tracker and measure your daily activity then gradually start to increase your steps every week by 10 percent as you get stronger.
- Perform kegels and pelvic tilts as soon as one to two days after delivery, depending on what kind of delivery you have and as long as your doctor approves. This will increase the blood supply to the perineum and help speed up the recovery process. By exhaling and drawing in your belly (which activates the corset-like muscle called the transverse abdominals), you’ll get a strong foundation to get your abs back as your hips and abdominals start moving back together.
- Do basic crunches. Watch for a separation in your abdominals by placing your finger just above the belly button as you crunch. If you can get three or more fingers in between your abs you have diastisis recti (abdominal separation). If this is the case, it’s important that you try to draw the abs back together first before you start any strenuous abdominal work especially rotation. Try placing your hands either side of the separation and manually draw them together as you perform a basic crunch. This will re-train the abs back together in their natural alignment.” If the separation gets worse or does not get better consult with your doctor or a women’s health physical therapist.
- Breastfeed —as though you needed another reason, it’s a fast way to shrink the uterus back down to pre-pregnancy size. And, it burns up to 600 calories a day! The catch: you still need to watch your food portions, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise or else you migh fall in to the breast feeding diet trap and wonder why you're not getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight!
- Get into strength training and small bursts of cardio. Not only is it time efficient for the busy mom, but it also increases your metabolism and burns the baby fat. Try doing some squats with shoulder raises and lunges with triceps extensions then shuffle from side to side for a minute to get the heart rate up. Directions: Lift your arms to shoulder height leading with your elbows with your palms facing downwards. Then gently lower the rams back to the side of the body. Bending your elbows close to the torso with your palms facing towards the body. Extend the elbows behind the body squeezing the top of the arms for that extra burn. Then bend the elbows back to start position. Doing this will challenge your body’s musculature and will help you lose the weight and tone the body back to its pre-pregnancy state.
- Spice up your cardio by adding some hill intervals (short bursts of higher intensity drills) to work the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Try to finish your cardio (walking, hiking or gently jogging) with walking lunges and modified push-ups with the knees on the floor.