By Dr Gerd Mueller, Chairman & MD, AktivOrtho

Having a baby is the greatest feeling a woman can experience in their life. These days the anxiety of gaining weight and then getting back to the pre pregnancy weight worries young girls to the extent of not letting them revel in the  joys of motherhood. Increase in weight is an integral part of the pregnancy but if you are smart in making healthy food choices and following a good exercise regime you are successful in gaining appropriate weight. The weight gained during pregnancy gets distributed in various tissues of your body, including fat and fluid as well as your developing baby. Gaining some fat deposits during your pregnancy is normal and actually necessary.Experts warn that when it comes to getting that post- pregnancy body back in shape, neither crash dieting nor a stringent exercise program is the way to go particularly if you’ve had a difficult pregnancy or a C-section delivery or are breastfeeding. Here are a few tips to ease the path of all these new mommies and get them back to their pre baby body:

1. Give time to yourself: Give your body the credit it deserves. Rather than getting frustrated for being out of shape, just remind yourself that your body is actually in perfect shape for having just had a baby. There is a reason why your abdominal muscles are flabby and you are carrying around a few extra pounds.
2. Drink water: Don’t forget to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day more if you are breastfeeding. You need plenty of fluids in order to combat constipation, assist with digestion and help to ensure a plentiful supply of milk.
3. Nutritious diet: Your post-delivery diet is as important as your diet during pregnancy. Even if you have retained extra weight after your pregnancy, following a restrictive diet and rapid weight loss are not recommended. This is particularly important if you are breastfeeding. Your energy and nutrient needs are high at this time and the dieting may affect your milk production, not to mention your energy levels, which are already likely to be suffering with the demands of the new born baby and lack of sleep.
4. Breastfeeding: After delivery, breastfeeding offers several benefits to the new mommies. The hormone that is released- oxytocin, helps the uterus to return more quickly to its pre pregnancy size. Another benefit is quicker weight loss after delivery because the internal production of milk burns calories.
5. Sleep well: It is easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to take help from your partner, family or friends. The old adage, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is still great advice. Women who get at least 7 hours of sleep are less likely to hold onto extra pregnancy weight than those getting less pillow time.
6. Belly wrap: Before your doctor releases you to begin a regimented exercise schedule, the belly wrap or abdominal belt helps you recover your posture, gives abdominal support and of course self-confidence. The gentle compression on the abs may help the uterus return to its normal size faster.
7. Breathe: Believe it or not, something as natural and instinctive as breathing will require focus after childbirth. It is important to do breathing exercises and that too correctly. Deep breathing strengthens the diaphragm, oxygenates the blood and accelerates the removal of gaseous wastes.
8. Choosing a Fitness regime:  Be realistic about what you can expect to accomplish at this stage of your life. It is better to set a series of small achievable goals for yourself than to aim so high that you abandon your fitness program after a couple of days. Choose a fitness activity that you genuinely enjoy and which can fit into your schedule. Exercise leads to stress free, healthy, lactating mommy.Post pregnancy, joint laxity (looseness) can be a problem for months after giving birth. Sometimes exercise results in twists, sprains or injuries. To minimize the risk of hurting yourself perform the exercises with caution and under medical supervision.
9. Focus on your core: A woman’s abdominal muscles undergo a great deal of strain during pregnancy. In fact, separation of abdominal muscles, called diastasis recti, is a common occurrence. Also, engaging in inappropriate exercise, such as sit ups, can worsen the problem for some women. A physio-therapist can prescribe exercises to help “close the gap” between muscles. Gentle core-strengthening exercises also can be done, paving the way for more-vigorous abdominal exercises 6 or more weeks after delivery.
10. Strengthen abdominal and pelvic floor muscles: Physio-therapists recommend that immediately post-partum, women focus on exercising the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the pelvic floor. During pregnancy, these muscles often are stretched and weakened. Strengthening them gives women a strong, stable base from which to work and move. This can alleviate pain later on, and makes much simpler such tasks as carrying the baby, getting in and out of the car, and lifting. Women who have had a caesarian section should be watchful of discomfort during abdominal exercise. Pain could indicate that the exercise is being done too soon, incorrectly, or too vigorously. It is important to remember that you should always breastfeed before doing the exercises

POST NATAL EXERCISES

1. Position – Prone, on your hand & knees.
Exercise – Keep your back leveled. Contract your pelvic floor muscles & suck your belly-button in.
Hold for 10 seconds & release. Repeat 10 times with enough rest period in between.
2. Position – Supine lying, with knees bend.

Exercise – Keep a towel under the curve of your back , suck your belly-button in & press the towel with you’re the curve of your back. 
Hold it for 10 seconds & relax. Repeat 10 times with enough rest period.
3. Position – Lying on one side. Upper leg bend & in front of the lower leg.
Exercise – Lift the lower leg up and down without touching the ground.
Do it 10 repetitions with 3 times per day.
4. Position – Side lying
Exercise – Lift the upper leg & bring it down without touching on the ground.
Repeat it 10 times, 3 times per day.
5. Position – Abdominal Curls.
Exercise – Keep your arms straight in front, directed towards your knees & raise your shoulders off the floor. Hold for 3 seconds & relax. Repeat it 10 times.
6. Position – Clam-shell exercise. Side lying with back next to the wall, knees bend and placed together.
Exercise – Split the knees apart without separating the ankles. Don’t allow the back to come off contact with the wall.
7. Position – Bridging, supine lying
Exercise – Lift the hips up & hold it for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times per day.
8. Position – Slow cycling, in supine lying
Exercise – cycle your legs in supine lying for 15-20 seconds. Progress as per tolerance.
9. Position – Supine lying with knees bend
Exercise – Hold a ball in between both the knees & squeeze. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds & relax.
10. Cardio. – Cross trainer or static cycling or treadmill. At least 20 minutes per day.
Progress as per tolerance.

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