12 Tips For Exercise After Pregnancy
By Tara Smith -
1. Consult your healthcare provider before
beginning any exercise program. In general it is safe to resume regular
exercise once you receive clearance from your healthcare provider after giving
birth, normally at 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a
2. It is never selfish to do something for
yourself. You will find it easier to meet the challenges of motherhood when you
are fit and healthy. When you are happy, the whole family benefits.
3. Start slowly and build gradually, especially if
you did not exercise during all or part of your pregnancy. You are less likely
to continue with a fitness program if you overdo it in the beginning.
4. Drink plenty of water, at least 8 ounces a day
-- more if you are exercising -- and even more if you are nursing. Water is
critical to keeping you hydrated during this important time, when your body is
still in recovery mode from the hard work of developing (and if you are
nursing, sustaining) a baby.
5. Continue to take prenatal vitamins if you are
nursing, and if you aren't, a good vitamin/mineral supplement is advised.
6. After you have a baby you may want to start
with a very low-impact form of exercise, for lots of reasons. Your body is
returning to its pre-pregnancy shape and size, and therefore is in a state of
transition: Your ligaments are still loose from the pregnancy hormones, you may
experience incontinence until you rebuild the strength in your pelvic floor
muscles, and your breasts may be enlarged and sore if you are nursing.
7. Walking is an excellent form of exercise, and
one you can do with your baby in a stroller (at any age). As with other forms
of exercise, start slowly and build gradually. An added benefit of any outdoor
exercise is that being outside gives you a new perspective on things and aids
in stress release.
8. It is not important what type of exercise you
participate in. The key is to find something you enjoy and will stick with.
Consistency is the important factor. Your options are endless: You can hike,
bike, do aerobics, yoga, pilates, swim, or walk.
9. This is not a time for rigid dieting and rapid
weight loss. Choose a well-balanced, nutritious eating lifestyle. It may take
many months -- as many as nine -- to lose the weight you gained during
pregnancy and to tone up. Your body may never completely return to its
pre-pregnancy shape. Some women's bodies simply change permanently with
pregnancy. Try not to think of this change as negative; consider what you have
gained in exchange.
10. If you are nursing, you will need
approximately 500 additional calories per day to support lactation. Take it
easy and be sure to get plenty of rest.
11. An ideal fitness program includes
cardiovascular training, toning/muscle strengthening, and flexibility or
stretching, three to four times per week for about one hour.
12. Don't be too hard on yourself. Motherhood is
challenging; you may not be able to exercise as often, or get into shape as
quickly as you would like. Do what you can, and enjoy this precious time with
your little bundle of joy!
Tara Smith, B.S. in Exercise Science, M.B.A.,
is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine and has 12 years'
experience. Tara is an IDEA Master Personal Fitness Trainer, and fitness is her
passion. She has specialized training in biomechanics, balance training, body
alignment, and pre- and post-natal exercise design. She is instructs and
co-produced "Strollertime: A Complete Workout With Baby in Tow" CD/DVD set. For
information, and other articles written by Smith, please visit