Fitness After Pregnancy

By Carole Lafrance: Director, Les Relevailles de Montral on March 08, 2007

Although you will spend most of the time in the weeks after you give birth caring for your newborn baby, it's also important to take care of your own health and well-being. Feeling good will help you to be healthier and happier, and it will help you care for your baby.

Physical Activity Is Good For Your Health

One of the most important things for your overall health is physical exercise. Physical activity has many benefits, such as better health, disease prevention, improved fitness, better posture and balance, stronger muscles and bones, weight control, and mobility and independence when you're older.

Physical Activity Helps You As A Mother

Exercise increases your self-esteem, helps you relax and release stress, and gives you more energy. It improves your stamina and endurance, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance all of which help you as a mother. When you're active, your baby is more likely to become active as he or she grows into a child, teenager and an adult.

When Is It Okay To Exercise?

Our bodies are designed to move. You can be physically active even in the first six weeks after you give birth. (Thats about how long it takes for your body to recover from childbirth).

Talk to your doctor about your plans to exercise before you start, so that he or she can let you know if there should be any restrictions on your physical activity. If you had a Caesarean birth, for example, you need to wait for your stitches and your abdominal wall to heal. If you had an episiotomy, you need to wait for your stitches to heal. You know you're not ready for a certain activity if it hurts. You should feel good before and after you exercise.

How Do I Start?

The key is starting early and increasing your activity slowly. Start with the level of physical activity you had in the last month of your pregnancy. Don't be impatient with your body; it may take two or three months to get back to your pre-pregnancy activity level.

If you haven't been physically active on a regular basis before, consider talking to a fitness professional who can help you come up with a plan. Try to start by being active three times per week. According to Health Canada, 63 per cent of Canadians are not active enough to get the health benefits they need from physical activity. Becoming a parent is a big life change. Its a great opportunity for another new start: making physical activity a regular part of your life.


What If I'm Breastfeeding?

It's okay to be physically active if you breastfeed. Your breast milk will still offer the same levels of nutrients to your baby, provide excellent immune protection, and your breasts will produce the same amount of milk. Many mothers find it more comfortable to feed their babies before they exercise. Just make sure that you eat plenty of food.


Types Of Exercise

You should choose activities you enjoy. This will make it easier for you to stay physically active in the future. Here are the three types of physical activity:

  • Endurance (such as walking).
  • Strength (such as lifting light weights).
  • Flexibility (such as stretching).

A fitness professional can show you how to do all three types of exercise safely.


How Can I Find Time To Exercise?

Being a mother is a busy job, but you can find ways to get enough physical activity. Every little bit counts, including a 10-minute walk. Here are some things you can do:

  • Exercise with your baby! Pushing your child in a stroller or going for a walk with your baby cuddled close to your body in a baby carrier are obvious options. But there are also fitness classes in which your baby is a part of the activities. These classes are fun for your baby, they let you get active, and you don't need to arrange child care.
  • Follow an exercise program on your television.
  • Arrange for your partner or a close friend or family member to stay with your baby so that you can go for a half-hour bike ride or a walk.
  • Put on some energetic music that you like and dance for 10 minutes. BW
Published in March 2007

By Carole Lafrance: Director, Les Relevailles de Montral| March 08, 2007

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