Motherhood is a unique experience for women – exciting but nerve-racking. Growing uterus, hormonal changes, increased appetite, wobbly gait, frequent bathroom visits are just the start of a series of physical and mental changes women are going through. Banita Kar, Senior Health Coach at MyHealthBuddy, says, âVaginal birth is a huge physical event and a Cesarean is nothing less than surgery. Being active and having healthy, nutritious meals is very beneficial during the postpartum period, but you should avoid rushing to start your fitness journey.
Fitness during the postpartum period
Kar lists some fitness tips for the postpartum period.
– Rest and recovery
Your body has worked very hard to nurture and develop the fetus into a baby while providing it with adequate nutrition. Going through the pain of childbirth also has an impact on the body and mind. What follows is a series of sleepless nights, breastfeeding and sore nipples, hemorrhoids, etc. adding more fatigue to the already tired body. Your recovery is of paramount importance and 15 to 30 days of complete rest after childbirth is suggested.
You are breastfeeding and you are bound to be very hungry. Your milk is where your baby gets nutrients, so eating balanced meals is very important. Just eating ghee-laden food or laddoos won’t help and may add to your weight problems. Go for a good mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats to provide the necessary micronutrients as well. Rice, roti, daliya, dal, eggs, paneer, milk, curds, vegetables and fruits make up a balanced meal.
– Walking and weight training
Walking is the safest of all activities; start by walking for 30 to 40 minutes each day. Along with this, once your doctor gives you the green light, you can start with basic weight training 3-4 days a week. These activities are less harmful and low impact on your joints.
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned below, stop exercising and see your doctor immediately:
– Heaviness in the pelvic area – as if something is above your vagina and could fall out
– Abdominal pain
– Vaginal pain / bleeding
Health issues to be aware of
During the postpartum period, take care of your health and well-being by being aware of certain problems. Kar suggests getting tested for Diastasis Recti. She says, âDuring pregnancy, the growing uterus can stretch the connective tissue that keeps your abdominal muscles intact, causing the abdominals to separate. Abdominal workouts like crunches, leg lifts, sit-ups or hops, jumps, running can potentially make the condition worse. Focusing on deep belly breathing might help. Diaphragmatic breathing that engages the muscles of the stomach, abdominals and diaphragm can also help a lot.
In addition, the health of the pelvic floor is also important. âOur pelvic floor is made up of muscles and tissues that support the growing baby in the womb and other organs during pregnancy, keeping them intact. These muscles stretch a lot during pregnancy, which makes them longer and takes time to heal and regain their shape and structure, âexplains Kar.
Some symptoms of a deteriorating pelvic floor health can be:
– Strong uncontrollable desire to urinate or bowel emergency
– Urinary incontinence, i.e. urine leakage when running, sneezing, jumping, etc.
– Pelvic prolapse – feeling like something might fall into your vagina
– Pain during sex or pain in the pelvic area when moving
See your healthcare professional as soon as possible if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Additionally, postpartum depression is quite common due to the mother’s restricted and tired new lifestyle. âThe challenge of having a little baby completely dependent on you for growth along with the new physical stresses and pains can have a huge impact on your mental well-being. If you are a new mom, always choose rest and recovery over workouts. Have your family take care of the baby during your nap. If the situation requires it, do not hesitate to call for outside help, âadvises Kar.
Remember that postpartum fitness is a union and balance between physical preparation, mental health, and emotional well-being. Your motherhood will be happier if you take care of yourself too!