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Physical Activity After Delivery

Getting back into “regular” clothes is exciting yet challenging for most new moms. But don’t expect to be able to get into your favorite pair of jeans for several weeks, at least. Keep in mind that it took 9 months to gain your pregnancy weight so it will take time to lose it.

As for guidelines, start out slowly. You need to conserve your energy to recover from labor and delivery. Many medical practitioners advise waiting until after your first postpartum checkup (usually six weeks after delivery) to resume an exercise program.

During the first six weeks, you can begin walking to increase circulation and get some general exercise. Do what you can handle, even if it's only 10 to 15 minutes, and increase your time as you get stronger. Walk with a normal stride and let your arms swing naturally by your sides. Warm up with five to 10 minutes of rhythmic activity such as marching, side-to-side lunges, shoulder rolls, and arm circles.

After you've received your doctor's approval to participate fully in a training program, build up to 50 to 60 minutes of continuous walking, four to five days a week. Of course, you can take a stroller and your baby with you.

With a new baby around, finding the time to fit exercise into your daily schedule is difficult but not impossible as long as you make it a priority. Try to do three 10-minute sessions a day if you can't fit in a full 30 minutes at one time. And be sure to find an activity that you enjoy and look forward to so exercise isn't a chore.

Exercises that can be done with the baby are often easier to fit into your routine. Some women put their baby in a front pack and do lunges, squats, and arm weights. You may want to consider purchasing exercise equipment to use during baby's nap or when the weather outside is bad. Exercise videos are a less expensive option. Before beginning, make sure your baby is secure in an infant seat, highchair, or playpen. Stow potentially dangerous equipment out of her reach or block access to it when you're done.

Be patient. Get back in shape and your shape will come back.

Keep these tips in mind as you work toward your goal.

  • Weigh yourself only once a week to keep the stress of slow weight loss to a minimum. Losing about a pound per week is safe.
  • Once you get the green light from your healthcare provider, any type of aerobic exercise will help you shed the extra pounds. Exercises that use large muscle groups (walking, swimming, biking, or jogging) and elevate your heart rate are particularly effective.
  • If you're new to the joy of exercise, start slowly and increase your intensity and duration over time.
  • If you're breastfeeding, exercise when your breasts aren't full of milk; for comfort and extra support, wear a sports bra over a nursing bra.
  • Applaud yourself for small goals and achievements, such as exercising three times per week.