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- Fri May 07, 2010 11:44 am
Why are we told to avoid exercising postpartum until at least 6 weeks? Are doctors more concerned with putting stress on the stomach and uterine muscles? Are some exercises ok before 6 weeks...say arms?
I'm just very anxious to get back to my "old self" after giving birth and I don't want to just sit around. Why so much caution? What are the risks?
| Debbie Miller, RN
- Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:19 pm
You are safe to begin some exercises and arms would not be a problem to work on. Usually the doctor wants to check you at six weeks to be sure your uterus has returned to its prepregnancy size and that you are in good health before giving you the go-ahead. This is just because your doctor wants to see how you are doing first. If you had a normal, vaginal delivery, light exercise such as walking, modified sit-ups, and stretching are excellent and you can do this very safely if you feel up to it. You need to listen to your body here and if you experience heavier bleeding you are probably doing too much. If you had a C-section, you should wait until you get the go-ahead, except for walking.
Abdominal exercises should only be done once the gap that sometimes is present from the muscle stretching of the abdomen has closed - usually between four and six weeks postpartum. This is one of the things your doctor can check and will likely be mostly closed by six weeks. A small gap won't interfere with exercise but a larger gap may.
Start gradually and work up to it, keeping in mind your ligaments are still loose and your risk of falls is increased because of this. Low impact exercises are preferable and some yoga or gym classes have special sessions for new moms.
Do keep in mind that breastfeeding contributes to you getting back into shape faster. Good luck and congratulations on the birth of your baby.