Incorporating Exercise to Feel your Best Postpartum
Jae O. Haroldsen
Getting into an exercise routine postpartum is not all about losing the fat gained during pregnancy. More important than losing the weight is the mental and physical well-being that comes from exercising. Exercising naturally releases the feel-good hormone, serotonin, to your brain. Serotonin boosts mood and increases happiness levels helping to alleviate postpartum depression.
Exercise strengthens key muscles that were stretched out during pregnancy and delivery. Focus on hips, back, and core muscles. Stronger muscles improve balance, physical well-being, stamina, and energy.
- Exercise – reduces fatigue, Relieves Stress, improves cognitive functioning, Boost Energy, Improve Blood Circulation, energizes body, improve sleep, decreases risk of chronic health conditions.
When to begin exercising after delivery? Normal birth with no complications, you can begin gentle exercising within a few days of delivery. A complicated birth, including a C-section, more care should be exercised in returning to your exercise program. Consult your doctor for your situation.
How much exercise should you try to get after having a baby?
- Aerobic - 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. Moderate-intensity means you raise your heart rate. You can talk with your exercise partner, but you don’t have enough breath to sing.
- Strength Training – In addition to aerobic at least 2 x weekly. Include yoga, Pilates, weights, sit-ups, push-ups, and Kegels.
- Stretches – neck, shoulders, wrest flexor stretch, low back, hips, legs, cow/calf.
- Exercises – pelvic floor, deep breathing, walking, bridging, and planks
- Listen to your body – If it hurts, slow down, step back. If increased vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain or sharp pelvic pain, stop exercising and consult your doctor.
- Simple Meditation exercises and options to clear your mind, let go, and be at peace.
Work to your personality and strengths. If you need solo time to rejuvenate, exercise on your own. Preferably, outdoors. If you need more social time to boost your mood find an exercise partner to motivate you.
Weiss, Robin Elise. “Safe Postpartum Exercises and Workouts.” Very Well Family. 2020. https://www.verywellfamily.com/postpartum-exercise-routine-2759435
“Exercise After Pregnancy: Frequently Asked Questions.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. 2019. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-after-pregnancy#start
Larson-Meyer, Dawnine Enette. “Effects of Postpartum Exercise on Mothers and Their Off-Spring: A Review of the Literature.” 2002. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12181395/
Roy, Brad A. “Postpartum Exercise.” ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. 2014. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2014/11000/postpartum_exercise.3.aspx
Lindberg, Sarah. “The Best Postpartum Exercises to Do Right Now.” Healthline. 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/postnatal-exercises