Why postpartum exercises are very important
After nine months of pregnancy, filled with the excitement of bringing forth a cute little bundle of joy, many mothers desire to regain their previous body shape and size, and also their confidence.
The journey to achieve that flat tummy and gorgeous admirable body size is never easy since at the same time, the mother needs to take care of the baby and give herself time to heal. If a mother has experienced an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, she may be able to start exercising even sooner than she would expect. However, even though you may be feeling great, it’s best to avoid overexerting yourself after giving birth.
Dr Esther Dindi, a consultant physician and a certified fitness expert shares her personal experience on postpartum exercising. Esther, a mother of three started working out on week seven after birth though she began being active even earlier than that.
“I listened to my body and gradually challenged myself in terms of the intensity of my workouts. I would avoid whatever made me feel uncomfortable,” says Esther.
Healthy mother, healthy family
“I had a lot of fun, but at the same time received a lot of discouragement from people who didn’t understand why I was exercising during my postpartum period. The exercises were great not just for my physical body, but also for stress relief and my mental well-being,” she adds.
Today, Esther is so passionate about fitness for mothers. She is the Founder and CEO of Doctor Fitness, a brand that is helping thousands of people across the world to embrace healthy living.
She offers: “I think motherhood is a great gift from God that should be enjoyed, and it is best enjoyed in a fit body without the encumbrance of lifestyle diseases. I resonate with mothers because I have been there and understand what they go through. Also, I derive my passion from the fact that these women set the health barometer of the home. When a woman embraces a healthy lifestyle, the whole family benefits.”
Most mothers generally need six to eight weeks to recover from childbirth, but for those who had an uncomplicated birth, gentle exercises can begin soon after delivery. Also, the type and intensity of exercises you can do after a vaginal delivery depend primarily on your activity level during pregnancy.
Esther has coached thousands of women through her online groups to help them adopt a healthy lifestyle.
“Our private group, ‘Fitsistaz KE’ has about 65,000 members. I also hold smaller curated monthly sessions for women who are keen to get personalised training,” she says.
One can start exercising during pregnancy as long as you get clearance from the doctor. “The best time to start exercising is six weeks after delivery as long as there are no complications and there is clearance from the doctor,” says Esther.
After having a baby, easing yourself back to exercising all starts in the mind. “One needs to have a positive mindset that views exercise not as a burden, but as an enjoyable part of the journey to wholeness. Learn to listen to your body. Start easy, by just doing small walks around the house or block, then increasing duration as days go by,” explains Esther.
“Then incorporate a structured work out programme. Make it fun. Start with total body work outs and easy cardio. Do not fall into the temptation of hurrying to do belly exercises to get the pregnancy flab gone. Just take it easy, work on the entire body, be keen on the nutrition. Intensity and duration should be determined by how you feel, but you should aim at making progress,” she adds.
The number one rule on nutrition post giving birth is, one should not eat for two. Esther shares how she has heard some ridiculous claims about nutrition and exercising post giving birth, which are baseless. Some include; that exercising will dry the milk wells, that as a mother you should take a lot of porridge to boost milk production, that you should eat for both the mother and baby, that you have to do sit ups to get a flat belly after child birth, that you cannot exercise your belly if you have had a C-section.
“One important thing to note is that exercises help to ease postpartum depression. The endorphins released after exercising are feel good hormones that do wonders to improve the mood and well-being of the mother. It also promotes better sleep. Exercising is self care, which might be the only thing that mothers at that stage can do for themselves,” explains Esther.
Through her initiative, Doctor Fitness, Esther hopes to engage women with digital content that is specific and curated for different groups. “We plan to offer more personalised solutions and look at wellness beyond just physical fitness. I want to help women live fulfilling lives in all aspects and enable them thrive in the key domains of life,” she says.
From a medical point of view, Esther says there are a lot of benefits that come with maintaining a healthy lifestyle after giving birth. “It helps in preventing lifestyle diseases, which is the most important benefit. Many women deal with obesity after having children and this weight predisposes them to lifestyle diseases. Although we love looking good and beautiful as a result o keeping fit lifestyle, the real clincher is the avoidance of lifestyle diseases,” she says.