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How to Exercise After Giving Birth

The Importance of Rest After Giving Birth

A baby's first few months are a busy, hectic time that will put big demands on your schedule. But while it's very difficult to carve out free time for yourself right now, that's also why it's so important to do so. Being properly rested will help you meet the challenges that come with this new phase of your life.

The advice that you should get enough rest and relaxation seems impossible to follow during the postpartum period -- a time often associated with sleepless nights, postpartum blues, tears, and fatigue. Babies get hungry around the clock at two- to four-hour intervals during the first four to six weeks of life. So most mothers and fathers find they may get only two to three hours of sleep at one time, if that!

Ongoing sleep disturbances -- lasting for days, weeks, or even months at a time -- can leave you and your partner feeling cross, irritable, and depressed. When you are this tired, even little problems become difficult to solve, and you may find it hard to make decisions about even the smallest issues.

Yet the postpartum period can be a time for you to tune into your body. It may take some practice, but learn to use part of the natural scheduling of your day to help release the tension you feel. If friends or family offer help after the birth, let them take over the cooking, grocery shopping, and housework. (Have them cook a little extra each time and freeze it. With a bit of planning and thought, you and your partner might not have to cook for a week or more.) Allow friends and family to care for you, while you care for the baby.

It's extremely important to continue the relaxation techniques you learned in your prepared childbirth classes. You will have less uninterrupted time for yourself, so make the most of the time you do have.

During feedings, take a few deep breaths and clear your mind -- just enjoy this quiet time and free your body of tension. (If you breast-feed, keep a glass of water or juice nearby to sip.) As soon as you lay the baby down for a nap, lie down yourself; walk directly from the baby to your own bed or couch. Resist any temptation to clean up or catch up on chores or calls; otherwise, before you know it, the baby is up again and you won't have a chance to relax.

The postpartum period is a time to reset priorities and decide what is really important to you personally. You'll find that six months from now you won't remember how clean your house was or if dinner was on time, but you will remember if you were tired and frazzled or peaceful and rested, enjoying this special time.

Rest and relaxation are the complement of a fitness program -- you must have both to rejuvenate your strength and vitality.

Once you're well rested, you'll have the energy for a comprehensive exercise program. The next page will give you many easy exercises you can do in the first few weeks after delivery.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.