Best exercises for the first month

Pregnancy exercises

When to start

Many obstetricians and midwives suggest waiting until your six-week postpartum checkup before beginning to exercise, although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it’s okay to start exercising right away if you feel up to it. (If you had a c-section, it’s wise to wait for about six weeks.)

Pelvic floor strengthener (Kegels)

If you had an episiotomy or if your perineum feels bruised or swollen, then doing Kegel exercises to tighten your pelvic floor muscles will improve circulation to the area and help avoid problems such as incontinence. These muscles tire easily, so it’s best to do several contractions repeatedly throughout the day rather than in one session.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Tighten the muscles of the vagina as if trying to interrupt the flow of urine when going to the bathroom.
  • Hold for a count of four, then release. Repeat ten times. Try to work up to three or four sets about three times a day.

Push-ups

Push-ups are a good way to strengthen the upper-body muscles needed for carrying your new baby. If you have time to do only a few exercises, make sure this is one of them.

  • Start on all fours with your knees directly below your hips, and hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back flat and your stomach in, gently bend your elbows and then straighten again. Keep breathing normally, and don’t lock your elbows when you straighten them. (You don’t need to lower yourself all the way to the floor to benefit from this exercise.)
  • Repeat ten to 12 times. Work up to three sets.

Head and shoulder raises

This exercise will help you start toning your abdominal muscles, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t feel the muscles working. It can take weeks to start recovering your strength and your progress depends on how fit you were before getting pregnant.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head.
  • Take a breath and, as you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles, flatten the small of your back against the floor, and raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Slowly lower and repeat the entire sequence eight to ten times.

Pelvic tilt

This is another good exercise for strengthening your abdominal muscles.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale and allow your abdomen to expand.
  • Exhale and lift your tailbone toward your navel, keeping your hips on the floor.
  • At the top of the tilt, tighten your buttocks, then release. Repeat eight to ten times.

Eager as you are to regain your pre-pregnancy shape, remember to take it easy at first. Keep your healthcare provider informed of your activities. In addition to these exercises, you’ll also want to do some type of cardiovascular workout, such as brisk walking. Start out with five minutes, two or three days per week, and work up to 20 minutes or more. Don’t overdo it: If you notice your lochia becoming heavier or turning bright red or pink stop exercising and call your doctor. The bleeding could be a sign of a hemorrhage.

As you feel stronger and less sleep deprived — usually from four to six weeks postpartum on — you can add sets and do more repetitions to increase the level of difficulty, or you may want to try more advanced exercises.

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Cairogyms Team
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