Post-pregnancy workout tips, because you just spent 9 months making a new person
Be kind to yourself
A dad bod is loosely defined as a fluffy male physique. Why “dad”? Because apparently men are allowed to be “softly round”after fathering a child, because they are no longer expected to look buff. Spoiler alert: the luxury doesn’t extend to moms, the actual human incubators who cooked a person inside them for nine whole months before suffering the worst pain known to mankind to push said person out into the world. These unrealistic expectations directed towards new moms drive them to turn to try post-pregnancy workout options that could cause more damage than good. But how do you find the time for a workout regimen when you’re juggling breast pumps, soiled diapers and wailing infants?
As a fitness entrepreneur and mom of twin girls, Mallika Tarkas Parekh knows exactly how hard it is to balance motherhood and body goals. The founder and director of AMP Fitness, the company that brought barre workout Physique 57 to India, took Tweak India through her post natal fitness journey and shared some hacks every new mother could use.
When is a good time to start your post-pregnancy workout?
“This is actually very subjective,” explains Parekh. The first thing you need to do before you start working out is get medical clearance. “Consulting a doctor or midwife is important before you begin any form of exercise including something as basic as brisk walking,” she adds. Listen to your body and if you feel strained or exhausted, stop immediately.
Post-pregnancy workout step 1: strengthening
Many women dive straight into full-fledged fitness regimes, but your post-pregnancy workout should begin with strengthening your muscles. Pregnancy and childbirth tend to take a toll on a woman’s body, and lead to problems such as postural aches, weak abdomen muscles, lower back pain, pelvic girdle instability, joint pains and hordes of other issues. “Working out is rehabilitative in nature. It helps relieve aches and pains you’re experiencing by strengthening the affected muscles,” explains Parekh.
It is also important to start with low impact exercises even if your body suggests otherwise. She adds, “In order to prepare for labour, your body releases a hormone called relaxin which releases your muscles, increases flexibility and gives your body a false sense of strength and endurance. You need to be wary of pushing yourself too much as it might lead to serious injuries.” Even if you’re used to high intensity exercises and feel like superwoman thanks to relaxin, it is best to start slow and ease yourself into your regular workout regime.
Mental health is as important as physical strength
“Postpartum depression and anxiety are very real things. There is a lot that goes into postpartum recovery and it’s unfortunate that so much emphasis is put on weight loss,” says Parekh, “Being the owner of a fitness brand, I understand that the average consumer is focussed on the aesthetic aspects, but you need to stay mentally strong too and have a good head space.”
Postpartum depression affects 22% of all Indian mothers. Any form of physical activity releases our body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which help relieve the symptoms of depression. So look at exercise as a tool to keep negativity at bay. “The most important part of post-pregnancy workout is giving equal attention to mental health, physical strength, and endurance,” says Parekh.
Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself
Remembering that you’ve only very recently created an entire human being from scratch might help. “I still don’t feel like I’m back to what I used to be, but that’s okay. Pregnancy makes certain parts of your body like your ribcage and your hips expand. They don’t necessarily go back to what they used to be,” confesses Parekh. “But you’ve also managed to create life, and that is pretty cool and definitely worth it,” she laughs.
The post-pregnancy workout begins at home
Parekh shared some easy exercises you could do while lying in bed. “It’s as simple is moving your limbs and keeping the blood flowing,” she says. Pelvic raises, hip raises and simple stretches should do the trick. “Also, spending quality time with your family and stocking up on all those happy hormones is as important as your post-pregnancy workout, and I don’t say that lightly.”
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