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Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness

Fitness is important in pregnancy as well as in postpartum period. Whether you are a new mom or have started your pregnancy journey and want to begin exercise to make the journey of motherhood more comfortable, it is difficult to determine where to begin. Here’s what you should know about prenatal and postnatal exercises, including getting started and staying safe.

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Exercise During Pregnancy - Prenatal Fitness

It is very common for women to resume exercise after conceiving or start it to help make the pregnancy more comfortable. It is advised that if they have been exercising earlier, they start with modifications, and if they were inactive, they begin at a low rate with some easy exercises. The focus of your exercise during the prenatal period should be to have strong muscles for childbirth and labour. Exercise also helps in better blood circulation, relief from backaches, weight control and sleep. Recovery after childbirth also becomes easy. Listen to the body and stop when needed during a workout. Being mindful is very important. Some of the safe exercises are:

  • Swimming
  • Stationary Biking
  • Low-impact and water aerobics
  • Walking

You may have to take frequent breaks if:

  • You are having more than one baby
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have existing health problems
  • Have a problem with the baby’s development and growth
  • Have a cervix problem

Stop exercising if you:

  • Have chest pain
  • Have breathing difficulties
  • Feel dizzy
  • Have uterine contractions
  • Feel that the baby is not moving
  • Have vaginal fluid leaks

Staying adequately hydrated, wearing good supportive shoes and comfortable clothes is essential.

Postpartum Exercise

Advantages of Exercise After Pregnancy

Exercise is essential as it helps to strengthen the body and also protects you from chronic conditions. It helps to:

  • Prevent postpartum depression
  • Strengthen abdominal exercise
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Relieve stress
  • Improve energy
  • Aid in weight management

When to Start Postpartum Exercise?

Experts recommend that you start your postpartum exercise with a light walk within a few days of childbirth if you have a normal delivery. However, if you have had a C-section, you may have to be cautious and take it slow. Talk to your doctor to know when it is safe for you to start your postnatal workout plan. Once that is sorted out in general, experts recommend that you have 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, which means a brisk walk of 20 to 30 minutes every day.

But to reach this, you should work up to this level by taking a five-minute walk and then see how you feel. If there are no aches, pulls or bleeds, you can increase the time by a few minutes every day. During the first few days, do not carry your baby in the carrier or push in a stroller, as it may add to the strain. After you can walk comfortably for a week, you can then take your baby too. Once you are comfortable in this routine, you can build up by adding gentle upper body stretching or go to a postpartum exercise class. Here are some tips on how to start your postpartum workout.

Introduce workouts slowly: Even if one is extremely fit, it is not a good idea to jump into postpartum exercise. New moms should not exert themselves in the first few weeks after

birth. If you have had a C-section, it should be deferred until the first post-operative check. Start with a walking routine by giving your body time to heal. If you push too hard, you are extending your recovery time.

Wait for vaginal bleeding to stop: If you start heavier activities pay attention to body signs. Women who have had bleeding tapered down may find that it has got heavy, which is an indication that the body needs more time. If that happens, it is best to talk to your doctor about it so that it can be determined if it is normal or needs care. But be patient and give time to heal.

Strengthen your pelvic floor: After childbirth, the pelvic floor becomes weak, and exercises like pilates, crunches, etc., put pressure on the pelvic floor, which delays healing. It can also cause organ prolapse in some situations. So start with a Kegel routine to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If you have difficulties, see a physical therapist who can advise on ways to heal and strengthen the pelvic muscles.

Watch out for diastasis Recti: It is a common condition that women in postpartum have where the rectus abdominals (6-pack muscles) get separated. If it is severe, you may have to work with a therapist to push the muscles back. So when you start your postpartum workout, do not overdo it and be mindful.

Watch your joints: A hormone for softening the joints and ligaments called relaxing is present in the body during pregnancy and can stay for a year after delivery. This can cause the joints to become unstable and wobbly. So, when you start your exercise regimen, choose not to include jerky movements as they can cause injury. Instead, ease into it by doing low-impact exercises like swimming. It is great for strengthening the core and back muscles and is gentle on the pelvic floor and joints.

Include different types of exercise: Whether it is pregnancy workouts or postpartum exercise, try various types of exercises. Do not disregard exercise as it is gentle cardio. Also, add gentle strength training after getting a nod from your healthcare provider. You can also do postnatal yoga, which is made for women who have just delivered a baby. When it comes to exercise, choose options that you are more likely to stick with.

Drink lots of fluids: Remember to hydrate yourself by carrying a water bottle wherever you go. Good hydration means that you can get rid of common postpartum problems like constipation. If you are breastfeeding, you need more water, so hydrate well.

Rest is crucial: Getting enough sleep is also important as it helps to refresh and re-energise. Adequate rest is crucial for lactation. Relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga which aid in replenishing the body. It is better to delegate tasks and try not to do a lot of things too soon. Focus on selfcare and the baby in the first few months is the most important part of fitness.

While carrying a baby or caring for one, getting time for self is a challenge. Along with this, the hormonal changes might make you feel tired. Delegating time for overall well-being gives the energy to do important tasks.

Must Read : Importance of exercise during pregnancy


1. What are prenatal and postnatal exercise?

Prenatal exercises are exercises that are done during pregnancy, and postnatal exercises are done after childbirth.

2. What is postpartum fitness?

It is a set of exercises that are done after childbirth to help get back to an active lifestyle post-delivery.

3. What are prenatal and postnatal care?

Prenatal care is the care that a woman gets during pregnancy. It can include scans, blood tests, consultations and examinations conducted during pregnancy. Postnatal care is medical care that a woman gets after childbirth. It begins from the time the baby is delivered up to six weeks. It includes general care of the baby and mother.

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