Postnatal Exercise: Begin Your Post-Pregnancy Health Routine Now!
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Mar 19, 2022
The miracle of birth is one of the most cherished moments of every mother’s life. While welcoming a new little bundle of joy, a mother experiences several changes in her life. From emotional & psychological to physical, a mother has to undergo a myriad of changes. But as these problems go away with time, the body is not just the same as it used to be. So, be it for regaining the prenatal body, gaining confidence, reducing stress, or simply having some me time, postnatal exercises are the answer for you!
In this article:
Chapter 1: What is Postnatal Care?
Soon after childbirth, both the mother and child need that extra care, as the birthing process can be very demanding and tiring. The first few weeks post-pregnancy can be very emotionally and physically draining on the mother as they may go through back pain, weakness, and postpartum depression.
Ayurveda emphasises the importance of pre and postnatal care of mothers. Sutika is the state of the mother soon after giving birth and ‘Sutika Paricharya' is what we refer to as postnatal care in Ayurveda.
Hence, postnatal care for the mother is a crucial step after delivery that ensures that their body recovers and feels better. However, Ayurveda believes that postnatal care should not just stop a few weeks after the birth as it can help new mothers to
- Re-establish the metabolic and digestive state of the body
- Regain the power lost during labor
- Boost immunity to keep infections away
- Help in normal lactation
- Help avoid postpartum depression
The importance of postnatal care is specified with the utmost detail in Ayurveda. After delivery, a woman’s body reaches a stage that can lead to depletion in tissues, and hence extra care must be taken to avoid diseases and infections. To fight that, it is advised to follow a specific diet and lifestyle regimen that can help you regain your strength.
Ayurveda suggests that a ‘Sattvic lifestyle’ can not just help you regain strength but also help reduce the post-pregnancy belly.
Sattvic diet includes following a vegetarian diet that can help you reach the ideal state of your body. It recommends simple, raw, fresh, and lightly cooked food. The diet is high in nutritional value and low in saturated and processed foods.
Some of the sattvic foods good for postnatal care for mothers are:
- Pure fruit juices
- Whole grains
- Sprouted seeds
- Pure ghee
To make the best out of a sattvic diet, one can follow these tips:
- Eat MyPrash for Post Delivery Care that helps your body to recover from childbirth, support lactation, gain energy and help you get to pre-pregnancy shape while boosting long-term immunity
- Avoid junk food
- Eat food in smaller portions and gradually increase the portion size
- Chew your food well to improve digestion
- Get enough sleep
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Gradually start postnatal exercises to go back to your pre-pregnancy body
While postnatal care is a must for every new mother, the experience of motherhood and childbirth is unique.
Hence, the approach for recovery cannot be the same for every mother.
So, if you are considering going ahead with Postnatal care in Ayurveda,
consult ayurvedic doctors to get the care that your body needs!
Chapter 2: Why are Postnatal Exercises Important?
In post-pregnancy, your Vata dosha gets increased which is natural to all. But it is important to maintain it. Vata dosha governs movement in the body and to balance your Vata, you first need a lot of rest.
Your body needs at least a few weeks to get the right amount of strength before starting postpartum exercise.
Once your body has recovered enough, you may start noticing the difference in your body pre and post-pregnancy. While the changes in your body after pregnancy are nothing less than normal, going back to the exercise routine can help you gain back your body’s strength.
Let us explore how postnatal exercise can help you:
- Postnatal exercise can help restore muscle strength and increase firmness in your body
- It promotes post-pregnancy weight loss and reduces post-pregnancy belly
- Exercising regularly can help reduce fatigue, weakness, and tiredness over time
- It elevates your mood and reduces the chance of postpartum depression
- It can help in constipation relief after giving birth
When to Start Exercise After Delivery?
Having a new member in the family can be very exciting but once you get used to the changes, you would want to restart your daily routine and that includes exercise.
As your body needs rest to recover from pregnancy, you may wonder when to start exercise after delivery, so that you do not face any adverse effects. The right time to exercise can depend on the type of delivery that you have experienced.
It is expected that by 6 weeks after delivery, a woman’s body recovers from the effects of pregnancy and reaches a non-pregnant state. Once the baby is born, women can start postpartum exercises only after they feel ready, which should be a gradual process.
On the other hand, exercise after c section delivery should wait for a longer period as the recovery period for cesarean delivery is more than normal delivery. Once you no longer have any pain, you can start with low-impact exercises, which can take around 12 weeks.
In either case, it’s best to consult your gynaecologist before starting any type of postnatal exercise.
How to Create Time for Exercise?
Getting back to exercising can be hard in itself but taking time out for it is no treat either. Especially when you are busy with essential newborn care. The daily routine already gets disrupted enough that exercise after delivery becomes a chore in itself. However, it is crucial to get back and running to return to your healthy body.
So, here are some ways by which you can take time out for exercises:
- Try mom and baby workout methods like relaxing yoga, walking with your child in a baby carrier
- Schedule a time for your exercise when your child is taking one of their catnaps
- Take help from your significant other who can take care of your child while you exercise
- Fi.nd a postnatal exercise routine that you can do in the comfort of your home
- Practise exercises that can be seamlessly incorporated into your daily routine
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are unable to take time out for your exercise
Studies have shown that contrary to the popular belief, normal exercises do not reduce a mother’s ability to produce milk.
It is important to note that the mother should maintain her fluid and calorie intake along with exercising. Both breastfeeding and exercises are a crucial part of the postnatal care process, for both mother and baby.
However, it is suggested that you avoid high-intensity exercise as it can cause lactic acid to accumulate in the breast milk and cause it to taste sour. While breastfeeding, it’s ideal to continue with low to moderate intensity exercises.
Struggling with lactation?
Regularly consume MyPrash for Post Delivery Care as it helps boost lactation and is safe for lactating mothers and breastfeeding infants.
Chapter 3: Types of Postnatal Exercises
Once you have understood that your body is ready to go back to exercising, it is important to learn that there would still be a few restrictions. This is especially true if you are starting your exercises only a few weeks after the delivery.
So, let us check out the types of exercises that you can do after your six-week checkup:
- Brisk walking
- Aqua aerobics
- Lightweight training
- Low impact aerobic training
- Pelvic floor exercises
Although there are certain exercises that you should avoid until you have completely reached your non-pregnancy stage. Even if you are a professional athlete, it is recommended that you let your body take all the rest it needs.
Here are some of the postnatal workouts that you should avoid:
- Crunches or Abdominal curls
- High impact aerobics
- Heavyweight training
Now that we have learned about what to do and what not to do, let’s learn about these postnatal exercises in detail:
Walking is the best way to start your exercise routine as you can start this postnatal exercise with your newborn and it is not very tiring to the body either. If you feel overwhelmed with the new changes in life, a simple walk can help you relax. You can start with a 10-minute walk and increase the time as you grow stronger.
Swimming can be great for working your heart and lungs without putting too much pressure on your joints. As a postnatal exercise, swimming is effective for toning muscles. However, do not start swimming until the postnatal bleeding has stopped and scarring from the cesarean operation is healed.
Pelvic-floor exercises or Kegels are not only great during pregnancy but also post-pregnancy. It can help balance your Vata by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. You can do this by tightening your pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise throughout the day.
Pilates is also one of the very effective postpartum workouts as it targets the muscles that generally weaken during pregnancy. Since it is a non-impacting routine, the risk of injury is fairly reduced.
New mothers find postnatal yoga as one of the best forms of exercise. It helps relax the postpartum muscles, strengthen the core muscles, and prevent back pain. Yoga can be very calming to the mind and peaceful.
Here are some common postnatal exercises that you can perform in the comfort of your home, a few of which can also be performed alone and with your child:
- Head lifts
- Shoulder lifts
- Curl ups
- Kneeling pelvic tilts
- Rock-a-baby squats
- Side plank
Planning to start yoga after delivery? Consult our expert Ayurvedic doctors and get personalised diet and lifestyle advice from the lens of Ayurveda
Postnatal yoga is a low-intensity yoga practice. It is a great form of postnatal care in Ayurveda. As a mother goes through many changes during this process, yoga helps recover from many of these.
Let us explore the key benefits of yoga for new mothers:
- Yoga helps balance your energy, lower your blood pressure, and reduce stress
- It can improve flexibility, posture, and pelvic floor strength
- It helps reduce anxiety and calm the mind over time
- Postpartum yoga is known to decrease the risk of postpartum depression
- It can improve bladder control with pelvic floor exercises
- It helps reduce postpartum digestive problems
Yoga offers the most benefits during the first three months of childbirth. Let us learn about some of the top postnatal yoga poses that you can perform regularly to gain back your strength:
1. Child’s Pose or Balasana
This is a simple pose that helps stretch your lower back and muscles. It also offers mild stretch to the lower back as it elongates the spine.
How to Perform Balasana?
- Kneel down and sit on your heels
- Bend forward by bringing your forehead towards the ground
- Raise your arms in front of you
- Hold the position for 10-15 seconds
- Take slow and deep breaths to allow your muscles to relax
2. Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana
Warrior Pose is a great postnatal exercise as it helps boost strength and stamina and improves mental capability and self-control.
How to Perform Virabhadrasana?
- Widen your stance as far as you comfortably can
- Bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight
- Move your body slightly towards your free knee
- Raise your arms to the side
- Lean forward to stretch your lower back
- Hold the pose for 10-15 seconds while taking slow and deep breaths
3. Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge pose is great for relieving spine tension. It strengthens your legs and stretches your hip flexor muscles that become tight during childbirth.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees
- Adjust your feet and arms to keep them straight
- Slowly lift your hips and tuck your chin
- Relax your glutes and engage your inner thighs
- Hold your hips higher for 10 seconds
- Slowly release with a deep breath
4. Cow face Pose or Gomukhasana
This is a great postnatal yoga pose for stretching your hips as well as your neck and shoulders. This helps combat the shoulder hunch that can happen due to nursing.
- Sit with your legs crossed
- Take your left arm straight up
- Bend the left elbow, touch your arm to your neck
- Keeping the right hand down, touch your right arm to the center of your spine
- Clasp hands on your back
- Keep your head from tilting forward
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds and then try the pose by replacing the hands
There are several other yoga poses that new mothers can perform in order to relax their mind and body. However, make sure not to perform any yoga exercise after delivery that can cause a stretch in the abdomen.
Need the energy to strengthen your muscles? Regularly consume MyPrash for Post Delivery Care. It contains Loha Bhasma which combats fatigue and Shuaktik Bhasma which strengthens the muscles.
Chapter 5: Guidelines for Postnatal Exercises
Now that we know some of the best exercises for postpartum care, let us learn in detail about how we can make the exercising experience as relaxing as possible:
- Give yourself enough time to heal, especially when you plan to exercise after c-section
- Wear a supportive sports bra
- Instead of trying to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes, buy clothes that fit properly on your body as it is likely that your body has changed a lot since then.
- Drink enough water before and after the exercise
- Try to do gentle exercises for your pelvic floor and muscles every day
- Don’t push yourself too hard
Finally, remember that the journey to getting back your pre-pregnancy body is a long one so do not get discouraged by the slow progress and enjoy your experience of motherhood.
While postpartum workouts can be very beneficial in reducing weight, maintaining better health, and supporting the mental wellness of new mothers, it is important to be careful.
Here are some general safety instructions that can help you throughout the process:
- Consult your doctor once before starting your postnatal exercise
- Try to stay active for around 20-30 minutes a day. However, you can start with only 10 minutes a day so as to not overexert your body
- Do not perform any activities that can place stress on the unstable pelvic floor and hip joints until your strength has returned to normal
- Do not perform activities that require a sudden change in direction
- Your exercises should not feel painful. So, if there is any type of exercise that causes you to pain, stop immediately
- If you are having trouble with most exercises, consult a physiotherapist
- If you notice any of the following signs, it means you are overexerting your body and you need to slow down:
- Increased fatigue
- Muscle pain
- Colour changes of lochia (postpartum vaginal flow) to pink or red
- Heavier lochia flow
- Lochia starts flowing after it had stopped
In case of such situations, consult your doctor immediately.
When you start to exercise after delivery, it not just helps your strength but also becomes a great break from the busy routines of essential newborn care. Till now we learned about how you can exercise the right way. Ayurveda suggests living a sattvic lifestyle can help reach your ideal health. Along with postnatal exercise, it is important that you follow a healthy lifestyle.
Now, let us learn how you can incorporate the sattvic diet and ayurvedic lifestyle along with your exercises:
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated, including fresh fruit juices to your diet
- You should follow a wholesome diet as an unbalanced diet can lead to fatigue
- Practice ‘abhyanga’ (warm oil massages) to calm your vata. Continue the massage routine for at least 40 days postpartum
- Create a calm environment around you that helps you stay positive
- Regularly consume ayurvedic herbs that can help you balance your Vata dosha. Some of them include pippali, shatavari, amla, and dashmool.
Dr. Vaidya’s MyPrash for Post Delivery Care is a specialised chyawanprash formula created especially for new mothers. This formulation is absolutely safe for lactating new moms and their infants. This MyPrash contains powerful Chyawanprash ingredients in a pure, safe form.
Let us learn about the ingredients that make MyPrash for post-delivery care so rich:
- Amla: Has rejuvenating properties that help combat viral and bacterial infections
- Giloy: Helps strengthen the immune system to protect against common respiratory and urinary tract infections
- Shatavari: Helps support milk production in new mothers and improves reproductive health
- Devdaru: Has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that help relieve pain after childbirth
- Dashmool: It is a group of ten herbs that make up a time-tested post-delivery tonic and pain reliever
- Loha bhasma: A rich source of iron that combats fatigue and weakness to combat anaemia
- Shauktik bhasma: A rich source of calcium to help strengthen muscle and bone health in new mothers
This 100% natural product is not just a great companion for supporting your postnatal exercises and recovery but also boosts a new mom’s health in varied ways.
Here are the unique benefits of MyPrash for Post Delivery Care:
- Helps boost lactation
- Helps the body recover faster from childbirth
- Boosts energy levels
- Helps you regain your pre-pregnancy shape
- Builds long-term immunity
- Protects you and the infant against frequent & seasonal infections
- Boost calcium levels
- Boosts hemoglobin levels
For thousands of years, Ayurveda has been stressing the importance of safe motherhood. After delivery, a woman’s body becomes weak and is in dire need of the right nutrients and exercises.
Following a sattvic lifestyle can help new mothers regain their strength and return to the prenatal stage. While sattvic foods provide the nutrients for recovery, postnatal exercises and yoga help improve strength, reduce pregnancy weight and even reduce the chances of postpartum depression.
Exercises can be a great part of postnatal care as they offer a much-needed break from the overwhelming changes in the life of a new mother. So, if you just gave birth to the cutest little child and are looking for a way to relax and restart your daily routine, postnatal exercise is the foundational step that you do not want to miss!
Chapter 6: FAQs on Postnatal Exercises
1. What exercises are best for postpartum?
Some of the best postnatal exercises include walking, swimming, yoga, and Kegels as they are low-impact exercises.
If you have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and normal delivery, you can start exercises a few days after birth, once the pain is gone. Ideally, you should wait 6 weeks before starting to exercise. If you wish to start sooner, you can consult your doctor.
If you wish to start your postpartum exercises in 4 weeks, you should first consult your doctor and start with low-impact exercises.
You should not overdo your exercises or perform any high-intensity exercises. You should also avoid exercises that can cause a stretch in the abdomen.
Starting postnatal exercises early on causes urine or faeces leakage, joint pain, or even injury.
Walking is one of the best ways to start your post-pregnancy exercise routine. It can help tone stomach muscles and burn calories.