For the first few weeks after delivery, the sheer pleasure and delight of having a newborn baby will probably more than compensate for the after effects of birth. However, at times you may be rather dismayed when you see your body after birth. Your bump will be gone, but your tummy won’t be flat yet. Your breasts will be large, and the tops of your legs will feel heavy. Nutritionists and experts advice that if you practice your postnatal exercises from the first day after birth, you should soon look better and feel energetic.
With some gentle exercising everyday, your figure can return to normal again in as little as three months after birth, although your stomach muscles may not be as firm as before. However, it is advisable to build up your exercise program slowly at first, as your ligaments are still soft and stretchy, and to always stop straight away if you feel pain or tiredness. It is best to exercise little but more consistently, on a regular basis. But please take note that if you have had a cesarean delivery, you would not be ready to start exercising for your stomach muscles during the initial weeks until much later after birth. It is best to check with your doctor first before kick starting these exercises, and stop at once if you feel any discomfort or pain at any stage.
Pelvic floor exercise
You can begin to strengthen the stretched and weakened muscles of your pelvic floor and stomach from the first day after birth. The pelvic floor exercises can be taken even if you have had a cesarean delivery. Start exercising with gently squeeze and lift movements as often as possible every day to prevent yourself from leaking urine involuntarily. These exercises would prove beneficial to get on with the next level of workouts. If you have had stitches in the abdomen, strengthening the pelvic floor will help them to heal. Little stretching of the pelvic muscles involves the bladder region, bowels, womb and tail end of the spine. It lends support to your pelvic organs. You can sit, stand erect or lie on your back with knees folded off and legs stretched apart comfortably. Put concentration on tightening of your muscles around the front passage, vagina and the back passage area and hold there for 3 to 5 seconds. While doing so, you will experience muscle tightening when you lift up and muscle relaxation when you retrieve. Repeat this exercise for 10 times or till your muscles start feeling the fatigue. Also, make sure to take a break of few seconds after every squeeze.
Foot exercises like foot pedaling will guard against swelling in the legs and improve blood circulation, thereby relieving you of leg pains and cramps post delivery. You can simply bend your feet up and down at the ankle. This exercise can be practiced on an hourly basis. Another foot exercise can be done by lying down on your elbows and keeping the lower back on the floor. Keep your stomach muscles tight and alternatively kick or throw your leg in front of you. Repeat this for at least 10 times as this assists in reducing excessive fat around the belly and tightening the stomach muscles as well.
Stomach toning exercises
Stomach toning exercises help regaining the strength of the abdominal muscles soon after your pregnancy. Not only do they assist in getting back your flat stomach, but they even prevent you from lower back injury and your abdominal organs from falling apart. A gentle way to strengthen these muscles is to pull them in as you breathe out, hold them in for a few seconds, then relax. Try doing this as often as possible. However, with passage of time, you can practice some more floor exercises for toning the stomach muscles. You can lie on your back, with your head and shoulders supported on two pillows, and your legs bent and slightly apart. Keep your arms crossed over your stomach. Now, try lifting your head and shoulders and, as you do this, breathe out and press gently on each side of your stomach with the palms on your hands, as if pulling the two sides together. Hold this position for a few seconds, then breathe in and relax. Repeat this three times and not more.
After about a week of your delivery, you can add on curling down exercises slowly and steadily as per your convenience and body suitability to your list of other daily exercises. Begin with the curl downs, and when you can do these easily, move on to the other exercises. If these new exercises strain you and are too taxing, practice the curl downs gradually and keep continuing the exercise for your pelvic floor. For the curl down exercises, sit up with your back straight. Your legs should be in a bent down position, little spread out, and your arms should be placed in a folded position right in front of you on your stomach. Now, exhale while you gently bending your pelvic region in front, and slowly drop back till the muscles of your abdomen feel completely stretched. Keep holding for as long as you are comfortable in this position and continue breathing normally. Then inhale and come to sitting position, with back straight and upright.
Side bends can make you get rid of those extra flabbiness and tiers around the sides of your lower hip and abdomen region. For side bend exercises, lie flat on your back with your arms by your side, and the palms of your hands resting on the outsides of your thigh. Now, lift your head a little and bend to the left, sliding your left hand under your leg. Now lying back, rest for some time, then follow the same procedure for your right side. If you can do this with ease, practice to bend to each side alternatively two or three times, before lying back and relaxing.
Once you have adapted comfortably and confidently to the initial level exercises, including the curl down and side bend exercises, you can try curling up now. Remember, curling up puts more pressure on your abdomen than curling down, thereby helping quicker toning of stomach muscles. To try this, lie flat on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet slightly apart. Rest your hands on your thighs. Now, while you exhale, try lifting your head along with your shoulders, and stretch as much as you can to touch your knees with the help of your hands. Don’t get upset if you can’t reach far enough at first, with repeated efforts you would be able to climb higher milestones. Slowly, breathe in and relax. Once you can do this with ease, try lifting yourself up more slowly and holding the position for longer. The next step would be to place your hands on your chest as you lift your head and shoulders. Finally, clasp your hands behind your head as you lift yourself up. With every higher level that you achieve, you would experience regaining your lost energy at a faster pace and also getting closer to your goal of attaining an appealing and toned figure.
Six weeks postpartum, you can start off with belly scooping. This particular exercise technique gives best results if heel slide is practiced along with scooping. It combines pelvic tilt along with a strong co-contraction of the TvA, without squeezing the buttocks. This dual move causes the abdomen to move closer to the spine, thereby becoming conclave in shape. As you push away the heels, the abdomen works harder in maintaining proper positioning. This one exercise rectifies and works on many areas of the body, giving multi-faceted results. It aids in improving pelvic alignment, toning the abdomen, flattening abdominal wall, shortening muscle fibers, developing dynamic stability and also training synergistic functioning between the internal and external layers of the abdominal wall.
Kegel exercises, like pelvic floor exercises, help in strengthening the muscles at the foot of your pelvis and aids in supporting your urinary muscles. To do kegels, simply squeeze the vaginal muscles in an attempt to stop your flow of urine. Hold each contraction for 5 to 10 seconds. They should be repeated 10 to 20 times at least thrice a day. You can do them anywhere, anytime, as per your convenience and time preference.
Thigh shaping exercises
During pregnancy, one tends to put on a lot of excess fat around the lower hip and thigh region. Postpartum, to get back your original well-toned thigh muscles, simply lie down on the mat facing sideways and support your body with your hands. Keep your bottom leg bent to remain stable. Now, raising your top leg, keep it straight with foot flexed in front. Next, lower your leg back to the beginning position and breathe in through your nose alongside to complete one repetition round. Do the same with reversed legs. You can practice this up to 12 repetitions on each side to get back your thighs in shape post childbirth.
Hand circling exercises
Pregnancy makes your hands and chest over-bloated with a lot of fat around the upper arm region, neck, shoulders and bust line, thereby camouflaging your sexy looking neck bone. To tighten the sagged muscles around the upper arm region, practice circling your arms first in a clockwise direction and then in an anti-clockwise direction. Start with one single arm rotation, first with the left arm and then with the right one for 20 counts each, followed by both arms together. Including this hand exercise in your daily regime can help tone up your arms and vanish away excessive fat from your shoulders and upper back, thereby enabling in reconditioning your body shape after pregnancy.
After childbirth, if it is hard for you to take time out for a proper exercise regime, the best option for you is to switch to walking. Walking is one of the simplest exercise routines which does not demand any specialized equipment. But remember, before you get back to your walking exercise program, make sure to warm up properly, hydrate your body well, wear supportive shoes and use good posture. You can do the warming up with a series of small backward arm circles, march in place, circle your ankles around, raise up on your toes and do 5-10 pelvic floor contracting exercises. To sum up, walking is the best resort to whittle your waist line and develop a nice hour-glass figure post pregnancy.