Toning Tips For Your Postpartum Body

Looking to get your pre-baby body back? Fortunately, there are many easy-to-do exercise routines and other ideas that can get you more in shape as you take care of your baby.

Working out with baby

Contributed by Jessica Remitz

Though it may seem that some new moms, like celebrities and models, have no trouble getting their pre-baby body back, it’s bound to take a little more time for the rest of us. Here are some common postpartum body issues and how to help get back in fighting shape.

Upper Body

The issue: Many women don’t stick to a regular upper body workout during pregnancy, leading to weakness in the muscles. Additionally, you produce the hormone relaxin in larger amounts during your pregnancy, which can weaken the joints after you deliver. While you may not have needed much upper-body strength during your pregnancy, lifting baby from car seat to crib to stroller to changing table and back again can certainly make out-of-shape upper arms, shoulders and wrists feel week.

The solution: toning and strengthening your arms, back and shoulders can help relieve strain on your wrists. If you can, start working these muscles before you give birth and pick it up six week after the baby is born. Try a ballet class to challenge your posture, strengthen your core and tone your upper body.

Breasts

The issue: After you deliver, your breasts will become larger as they first fill with colostrum and then with milk—most women’s will stay that size for a few weeks. As long as you’re nursing, you’ll experienced enlarged breasts, and whether or not you decide to nurse most women’s breast tissue will stretch as a result of pregnancy.

The solution: Most new moms accept these changes to their breasts as a part of the process, but some may want to do exercises to firm up the chest muscles behind the breasts that can help to “lift” them. Depending on your level of discomfort with how your breasts look, surgery may be another option. Try a stroller workout to help firm your arms and chest while walking around the neighborhood with your new addition.

Belly

The issue: Your stomach undergoes more changes during pregnancy than any other body part. Your age, genetics and the amount of weight you gain can determine if you end up with stretch marks, excess flab or a pooch after baby. It can take up to six weeks for the uterus to revert back to its original size, which will decrease the size of your belly but may not make it as taut as it was.

The solution: During pregnancy, helping to keep your abdominals and back strong will help your core recover more quickly after you deliver. Targeted abdominal exercise, like Pilates, will give most women the results they want. Others consider a tummy tuck postpartum if working out doesn’t help reduce the size of their paunch.

Thighs and Butt

The issue: During pregnancy, many women’s activity and nutrition levels go down causing them to gain weight. The extra fat is then distributed to places where women are likely to put on weight: their backside, hips and thighs. Even if you do eat a healthy diet and keep up an exercise routine, your pregnancy alone may determine where the extra weight goes.

The solution: It can take up to a year to lose your pregnancy weight, so be patient as you work to shed pounds. Blend in a mix of exercise and well-balanced nutrition to take off weight gradually. Low-calorie, high-fiber foods like vegetables will help promote a feeling of fullness and make it easier for you to eat less. For exercise, try a high-energy routine that targets multiple muscle areas, like Brazilian dance.

More on your postpartum health

A tour of your postpartum body
Common questions about postpartum depression
Postpartum sex: Tips for improving intimacy after pregnancy

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