Quick Tips for Getting Back in Shape
You may also be disappointed to find that your figure does not return to normal as quickly as you had hoped, but it will take months before you can expect to be really flat around the tummy again.
You may be able to attend postnatal exercise classes but in all likelihood you will have neither the time nor the energy to cope with additional physical exertion in the first few weeks. There are, however, a few things you should do that will make a big difference to your physical recovery after the birth.
As soon after delivery as possible get into the habit of pinching in’ your muscles around the pelvic floor.
You can do this exercise sitting, standing or lying down. Make a practice of doing it whenever you can … while waiting at a traffic light, feeding your baby, or watching TV. The action will tighten the muscle tone of the perineum and your sex life and your figure will benefit. It will also help prevent the embarrassing problem of incontinence, that is, difficulty in holding urine.
To locate the muscles used, stop yourself midstream when urinating ” you will feel the action of the muscles that need to be strengthened after birth. Practise pulling them up slowly through several layers’, then release downwards after a few seconds. Repeat five times.
To strengthen the muscles of the rectal area, pull up slowly around the anus, hold, then release through the muscle layers.
This feels very similar to the previous exercise for the vaginal area but you will soon be able to differentiate. If you do these exercises faithfully you will trim your bottom and tone up your sex life.
Remember, too, that good posture is nine-tenths of getting and keeping in shape. Pull in your tummy muscles or you will never flatten your abdomen and don’t allow yourself to stand sloppily with a baby on your hip. It will strain your back and ruin your figure.
If you have gained a lot of mass during pregnancy don’t go on a crash diet in an attempt to get rid of it quickly. You need your strength to cope with looking after the baby, but you can go on a slimming diet provided it is supervised by your doctor or an organisation that specialises in helping people lose mass. Don’t pop pills in an effort to curb your appetite or you could end up floating on an artificial high’ and come crashing down with a bang. Breast feeding uses up a lot of stored body fat and kilojoules, but if necessary you can still go on a suitable diet under supervision. Never take diuretics when breast feeding as the body needs fluid to make milk.
Anaemia. Occasionally a woman may become anaemic after the birth of her baby. The symptoms are paleness, shortness of breath and tiredness. Although these symptoms are common to all women after delivery, the possibility that they may be aggravated by anaemia should not be overlooked. Folic acid, zinc and other trace elements may also be depleted after pregnancy, so it is a good idea to keep on with the multivitamin and iron tablets you were taking during pregnancy for a few months after the birth.
Bladder. You will find it difficult to pass urine for a few days after the birth, and the urine may burn your episiotomy wound. Try doing it in a half standing position so that the flow does not run over the stitches, and rinse the area with clear water afterwards. Always wipe from the front towards the back after going to the lavatory so that germs do not enter the vagina or urethra.
Bleeding after the birth. The lochia or vaginal bleeding that follows birth even if you have had a Caesarean Usually starts off bright red and gradually turns brownish. A sudden rush of red blood or clots ten days or more after the birth could mean that part of the placenta has been retained and you must contact a doctor at once. During the first few days after delivery you should use sterilised pads (the hospital will supply them). Internal sanitary protection is not recommended until you have had your first period. If the lochia has an offensive smell or you feel ill, see your doctor.