Increased intake of nutritious food during pregnancy
is necessary to supply essential nutrients to the growing body. While it is important to eat well during pregnancy, it is also important to keep a close watch on weight gain.
A pregnant woman needs to consume an additional 300 calories a day
to support the nutritional needs of her unborn baby. The required weight gain for a pregnant woman
depends upon the BMI of the mother as well as considerations from any previous pregnancies.
- Too Little Weight Gain: If the mother gains very little weight during pregnancy, the baby has a high risk of being born with low birth weight. Apart from weight gain, adequate nutritional requirements dictate the growth and development of the baby. Moreover, the mother requires strength to endure the rigors of labor and delivery.
- Too Much Weight Gain: If the mother gains too much weight during pregnancy the baby is at increased risk for high birth weight. The mother is also at increased risk for gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia; the risk of a pre-term delivery is also high in this case.
Post delivery, a mother can shed the additional weight by exercising but only after consultation with her doctor. Post pregnancy workouts are designed to:
- Target areas that have a tendency to gain weight during pregnancy like the abdomen and the hip areas. Carrying a baby in her womb and the subsequent delivery results in a lot of loose hanging skin around the abdomen that needs to be firmed up and toned post delivery.
- Be gentle following delivery. These exercises are usually started within a week post delivery, depending upon the type of delivery and if there was any complication during delivery. Therefore, they are not as rigorous as normal workouts but are effective.
A good workout session can do wonders for the mind as well as to the body and here are some advantages of sticking to a post pregnancy workout schedule at least 3 to 4 times in a week.
- Loss of Weight: A good workout schedules will aid in weight loss
- Increase in Confidence: A glance through pre-pregnancy photos of themselves, leaves many mothers feel dejected and filled with low self-esteem. A loss of weight will boost confidence and encourage the mother to go out and be herself.
- A Boost of Oxytocin: Exercising leads to the secretion of oxytocin which is also called the ‘love hormone’. This is a feel good hormone that will help the mother stay cheerful.
- Bonding with the Baby- The increased oxytocin will help the mother bond with her newborn and foster better relationships with the spouse
- Staves of Depression: New mothers are at an increased risk of postpartum depression due to various factors that include weight gain, increased workload due to the birth of a newborn, reduced time with the spouse or the inability to lead a life that existed before the baby. Regular exercise aids in lowering the risk for depression.
- Strengthening Muscles: Postpartum workouts are designed to strengthen muscles that had over-stretched and lost firmness. The workouts include ones to tone up the abdominal muscles as well as pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is particularly important in preventing incontinence.
Choose the postpartum workout schedule carefully as excessive physical activity can lead to an increase of lactic acid in the breast milk that can lead to a sour taste for the baby. This might keep the baby away from feeding on breast milk. Drink plenty of water before and after a workout to prevent lactic acid build up. Exercises do not affect the volume of breast milk that is generated.
When pain, excessive bleeding or giddiness is observed during or after exercising, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Here are Top 5 Postpartum Workouts:
- Walking with the Baby: Walking gently eases the mother into an exercise routine and it is a great way to start. Going out for a walk in the park will also let the mother enjoy some time out of the house, taking the baby along will aid in bonding and also let the baby enjoy some fresh air outdoors.
- Strengthen your Tummy Muscles: Exercises for the tummy are almost always the crunches but for a new mommy, they can do more harm than good. This is because the outer abdominal muscles expand to allow the uterus to grow and post-delivery the uterus gets back to normal while the stomach stays inflated. Crunches apply pressure on the tissue that connects the outermost abdominal muscles, leading to further separation.
The ideal stomach exercise for a new mom should target the inner abdominal muscles that are responsible for regaining form and taut abdomen.
This exercise is simple and involves tucking in the stomach as much as possible. This can be done many times during the day even while performing other chores or while reading for the baby.
- Kegel Exercises: These are important exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, rectum, small intestine and uterus. For this exercise, the mother should lie flat on her back and then tighten the pelvic floor muscles, hold it for 10 seconds and then repeat. Do 3 repetitions each time, at least 10 times in a day.
- Baby Dancing: Dancing is a whole body workout as it strengthens every part of the body and it is also fun to do. Playing some good music can be relaxing and sweating out dancing won’t make it feel like it’s an exercise. Dancing with the baby can be fun, both for the baby as well as the mother.
Every pregnancy is different and everybody reacts differently to exercises, so the mother should be cautious about the intensity of exercise and stop if there is any pain or discomfort. The important aspect is to enjoy the process, stay motivated and wait for compliments to start pouring in.
- Swimming: Swimming is a great exercise and it is also a good way to get the baby swimming too. Since unborn babies spend their time in the amniotic fluid, swimming comes naturally to babies and starting them early would do them good.
In turn, mothers can tone their abdomen, hand and leg muscles in this great fitness regime that will break the monotony of mundane life and aid in getting back pre-pregnancy shape.