Written by : Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
Regular exercise after childbirth helps the body to regain its pre-pregnancy shape and size. Decrease in weight increases energy levels, stimulates appetite and helps a new mother cope with the demands of looking after a newborn.
The exercises also help to tone up the pelvic and abdominal walls and to correct postural defects.
All women should be encouraged to do simple postnatal exercises at any time that she finds convenient. But while some exercise is a very good thing for a new mom, doing too much too soon can be harmful.
It is always best to consult the doctor or the midwife before starting an exercisse schedule. Exercises should be started only after they have declared the new mother fit to do so.
Provided that there are no medical contraindications, exercises can be started after 1 week of normal delivery and after 6 weeks of a cesarian section.
The best exercises in the first six weeks are Kegel's exercises (also known as pelvic floor exercise), walking and gentle abdominal tightening with deep breathing.
The pelvic muscles are those muscles that need to be tightened when a person attempts to stop urinating or hold in a bowel motion. To exercise these muscles, gradually squeeze and increase the tension in the muscles until the muscles are contracted as hard as possible. Then they should be relaxed gently.
The contraction should be held for a slow count of ten and then released slowly. Slow exercises should be performed 10 times and then quick, short and hard squeezes for another 10 times.
The advantage of Kegel's exercises are that they can be performed at any time and in any position - lying down, sitting or standing.
Deep breathing relaxes the muscles and releases tension and stress. It provides increased oxygen to the body and stimulates faster healing. It not only exercises the lungs but also the abdominal muscles. The abdominal exercises help to tone the muscles and decrease abdominal fat.
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Once the 6 weeks postpartum checkup has been done and you have been declared fit to exercise, the following exercises can be done:
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