Getting in shape after childbirth
Proper weight gain during pregnancy played an important role in your baby's health and development. Several of the pounds you gained were lost at birth, including the weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. But many women find that the remaining pounds tend to stick around, and their body takes a while to regain its tone and shape.
Starting or resuming an exercise program offers several benefits which include:
Check with your health care provider before you begin any exercises. Your body first needs to recover from the physical changes of pregnancy and heal from childbirth. Even if you were active and exercised during pregnancy, you may find that your stamina is lessened. Also, the relaxation of ligaments due to hormones may increase the risk of injury. So begin with simple exercises and build to a more active routine. Walking is one of the best aerobic exercises to get your heart rate up and tone your body.
Many women enjoy a postpartum exercise class at a gym, where they can exercise with other new mothers. Others prefer to exercise at home with a work-out tape or using their own exercise equipment. Whenever you exercise, be sure to drink lots of water, especially if you are breastfeeding. You may want to schedule your exercise time for after a breastfeeding if your breasts are very full.
Kegel exercises are pelvic floor exercises that help tone the muscles in the vagina and perineum, which may be weakened after childbirth. Doing a Kegel exercise is simple:
1. Tighten the muscles around your vagina and anus. (The exercise is similar to stopping urination midstream.)
2. Hold the muscles tightened as long as you can, working up to 8 to 10 seconds each time.
3. Relax the muscles.
4. Tighten and relax the muscles several times a day.
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