Health Topics » Pregnancy & Motherhood » Your Guide To Postnatal Exercises   Login

 Pregnancy & Motherhood

october 2012
Your Guide To Postnatal Exercises
Dr T Madhavi
Postnatal is the period beginning immediately after the birth of a child and extending for about six weeks. It is the time after birth, a time in which the mother’s body, including the hormone levels and uterus size, returns to a non-pregnant state.
Regular exercise and a sensible diet are the best ways to lose weight after pregnancy and childbirth. Postnatal exercise is as important as antenatal exercise, but it should be commenced gradually, particularly if the delivery was through a caesarean section. The exercise routine should be individualized too.

How Does Postnatal Exercise Help?
  • Prevents low back pain and conditions abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens pelvic floor muscles and prevents incontinence
  • Restores body shape and promotes weight loss
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness and restores muscle strength
  • Improves mood, relieves stress and prevents postpartum depression
Will Exercise Affect Breastfeeding?
Special care must be taken to ensure sufficient fluid and caloric intake in the exercise regime of nursing mothers or during postnatal exercises. In other words, a regular exercise regime has no adverse effect on a mother’s ability to breastfeed. The point is to ensure proper fluid and caloric intake, because high-intensity physical activity can cause lactic acid to accumulate in breast milk and produce a sour taste which the baby may not like. This problem can be prevented by sticking to low-to-moderate intensity physical activity and drinking plenty of fluids during and after a workout.

Initial Postnatal Exercises
  • Deep breathing: It has circulatory benefits and is relaxing too. Breathe in deeply through the nose. Sigh out.
  • Foot and ankle exercise: Helps address swollen ankles and varicose veins.
  • Pelvic floor exercise: It helps relieve pain and gives strength. Do it often while sitting or lying down. Pelvic floor tightening can be done quickly—hold, relax, hold, relax; or slowly—pull pelvic floor in and up, hold—2-3-4 and let go.
  • Abdominal muscle exercise: Lie with your knees slightly bent. Gently and slowly, pull your belly button in, towards your spine. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 to 10 times while breathing normally.
Dr T Madhavi Senior Physiotherapist, Apollo Life Center, Hyderabad.