How soon should you start exercising after giving birth?
Posted Monday, October 14 2013 at 00:00
Exercise after a woman has given birth is good, but doctors warn that it should not be overdone, especially in the first few months, to allow the body to recover and heal.
Giving birth is a dream several women look forward to. And families welcome the new bundle with excitement and gifts. However, in this excitement, the new mother is always worries about how she will lose the baby weight, and regain her pre-pregnancy size.
Judith Nalongo, a mother of one says she started doing physical exercise one week after giving birth to her baby because she hated seeing her protruding, empty belly.
“When I gave birth I was so excited about the whole idea of breastfeeding and bonding with my baby. I was not worried about losing weight because I had not gained much but I wanted to get back to my pre-pregnancy body,”she says.
“I did not wait for the six week period to elapse to start working out as advised by doctors. I missed putting on my old clothes so I started by tying my stomach with a leso for four consecutive days, then did some sit-ups,” narrates.
Although every pregnancy and delivery is different for women, it is usually advisable for them to wait for six weeks after birth before resuming exercise. However many people believe that if you exercised throughout your pregnancy and had a natural delivery, you can safely do any form of exercise soon after giving birth.
“I continued with my workout routine for two weeks but after sometime I felt a very sharp pain inside my belly. I took diclofenac each time I experienced that pain but one day I spotted a blood clot which resulted to heavy bleeding. When I went to hospital, the doctor advised me to stop working out,”Nalongo explains.
The first six weeks
According to Dr Gilbert Tumwine, a gynaecologist at Nsambya Hospital, too much physical activity in the first six weeks after delivery can lead to heavy virginal discharge.
“There is a period called puerperium where your body is still under the influence of pregnancy. A mother should slow down with what she does with her body during this period,”explains Dr Tumwine.
How to start
As a starting point, Dr Tumwine says that a woman should start with light exercise, which her body can tolerate such as walking.
“If you had a caesarian or a complicated birth, it is better to talk to your doctor about the possibilities when you can start exercising after birth. But you should do this with the help of a professional fitness instructor,” Dr Tumwine notes.
An incision from a C-section takes a long period to heal, and this may delay the time you start working out.
“Tying the tummy does not help as many women have been made to believe. Instead, it triggers complications, since a mother may end up tying her uterus yet it may not have contract to its pre-pregnancy position,” says Dr Tumwine.
As a new mother regains strength, she can increase the amount of exercise she engages in.
This should be accompanied with a balanced that includes carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and water. Excessive exercise without proper diet is dangerous to both the mother and baby during lactation.
Joseph Mawerere, a gym instructor at Kansanga, says fast weight loss after pregnancy has several downsides, including bone and muscle injury.