I look pregnant, but I'm not
Women are often dismayed to find that they still look pregnant a week after they have delivered their babies. While the weight that you put on during pregnancy gradually melts away, the reason for a still protruding abdomen is stretched out abdominal muscles. You also have to take into account the leftover fluids that distend your belly and your enlarged uterus that will take a little time to shrink to its normal size. However, it is sad but true that you'll have to work at it if you want that bulge around your middle to disappear.
Tips on postpartum exercise
But before you get into your leotards and huff and puff your way through those sit-ups, here a few helpful pointers:
- The first thing you should do is to consult your doctor about whether it is all right to exercise and what he would consider a safe exercise routine.
- It is important to have a routine. Exercising off and on is pointless, except to assuage your conscience. Don't overdo it even if you feel that you can do more. Build your stamina and tighten those muscles slowly.
- It is a good idea to start slowly and not jump in the deep end straight away, especially if you're not accustomed to exercise.
- A few muscle-toning exercises like sit-ups and leg-lifts for about 15 minutes a day spread over two or three 5-minute sessions are recommended initially. Your ultimate goal should be four or five 40-minute sessions a week of more vigorous exercise like walking, jogging and swimming.
- While doing muscle-building exercises, make your movements slow and deliberate with adequate breaks between repetitions. Going through such exercises at breakneck speed renders them ineffective.
- Avoid jerky, jarring or bouncy movements, jumping and knee-chest exercises, full sit-ups and competitive games for atleast the first six weeks postpartum.
- Warm-up and cool down before and after each exercise session respectively by walking and doing a few light stretching exercises.
- Cut down your exercise routine by half in hot weather or when you feel under the weather. Try to exercise early in the morning or late in the evening when it's cooler and wear light clothing.
- Drink plenty of water both before and after you exercise so that you don't get dehydrated.
- Looking after a baby is a full-time job, but it's not a good enough excuse to avoid exercising. Take a little time out for your exercise or take your baby with you when you go for a walk in the park.
If you experience any of the following symptoms while exercising, stop immediately and call your doctor: increase in vaginal bleeding, pubic pain, back pain, nausea, blurred vision, pain, faintness, dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, difficulty walking.
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