■ Chronicle News Service
(Metro Service) Upon giving birth, women typically have pretty lengthy to-do lists. Caring for their newborns might take the top spot on such lists, but new mothers must not downplay the importance of taking care of themselves as well.
According to the latest guidelines established by the Institute of Medicine, women who are considered to be “normal weight” should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during their pregnancies if they are pregnant with only one child. (Note: The World Health Organization defines “normal weight” as having a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9.) Such weight gain can improve the health outcomes for both women and the children they’re carrying.
Women will lose some but not all of their pregnancy weight during childbirth. Recognizing the importance of maintaining healthy weights, many women hope to begin losing their remaining pregnancy weight as soon as possible after their children are born. Exercise can help accomplish that goal, but women must consider certain factors before beginning a post-pregnancy exercise regimen.
The Mayo Clinic notes that exercising after pregnancy provides a host of benefits. Healthy diets can help women lose pregnancy weight, but exercise plays a crucial role in healthy weight loss. Exercise can help women boost their energy levels after childbirth while also improving their cardiovascular fitness. Exercise also can help to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles and alleviate some of the stress that may result from caring for newborn children. Regular exercise can help women sleep better at night as well.
When should I begin to exercise?
The American Council on Exercise notes that many of the physiological changes associated with pregnancy persist for four to six weeks after giving birth. Women should not expect or feel pressured to dive back into their vigorous pre-pregnancy exercise routines in the immediate aftermath of giving birth. But women do not necessarily have to wait the full six weeks, either. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advocates that women resume their pre-pregnancy exercise regimens as soon as it is medically and physically safe for them to do so. (Note: Women who had Caesarean sections will require more time to recover than those who did not.) Speak with your physician and be fully honest about how you feel. Building an exercise tolerance will be gradual, so even when you get clearance from your doctor, take things slowly at first.
Exercising after childbirth can help women return to their normal weights. Women can speak with their physicians to ensure their post-pregnancy weight loss efforts are healthy and successful.