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Getting back into shape after giving birth

It is completely normal to not be as fit and slim as you were before you became pregnant, even if it is several weeks since you gave birth. After all, your body has been carrying the weight of your unborn child for nine months. The muscles and skin on your belly have therefore stretched considerably. Your pelvic floor has also had to work very hard. Do not rush into anything now. Allow your body time to recover.

 

First strengthen your pelvic floor

After giving birth you need plenty of peace and time to get used to the strenuous new pace of life with a baby. Gentle gymnastic exercises are also important, however, for helping the uterus retract and strengthening the pelvic floor. The uterus, which is still heavy and enlarged, is “hanging” from the pelvic floor by its whole weight. The pelvic floor is severely stretched by pregnancy and has not yet regained its supportive function for the internal organs, e.g. for the uterus and bladder. Therefore do not put too much strain on your pelvic floor too soon. You can start playing sport once it is fully stable and supportive again.

Gentle postnatal exercise is important

To get an idea of where the pelvic floor is, try to stop the flow of urine when you are on the toilet. The muscles you use to do this are the pelvic floor muscles. If you focus on training and strengthening the pelvic floor, this will also help your buttocks, legs and, later, your stomach as well. This is because the pelvic floor is closely connected to many other muscle groups. Overall, you will be tightening all the muscles that are relaxed during pregnancy.

Contrary to earlier recommendations, you can start gentle exercise from the second week after giving birth. This will help you to quickly regain a positive body image. Ask your midwife or at the clinic for tips and suggestions for exercising. You can also sign up for a postnatal exercise class. Statutory health insurance companies will usually bear the costs of this.

Recommended by midwives: lifting exercise

The so-called lifting exercise is recommended by midwives for strengthening the pelvic floor. First perform the exercise when lying down. Later on you can also practise it while sitting, standing and walking.

Exercise instructions:

Lie on your back and tighten your pelvic floor muscles. When doing this, imagine that you are holding an object between the labia that you are squeezing tight and then lifting. Breathe out while you are doing the exercise and imagine that you are slowly moving the object inside you higher, i.e. in the direction of your head. When, in your imagination, the object has reached the top, relax the muscles again and continue to breathe calmly. Repeat the exercise around ten times and practise this several times a day.

Slim again – with a balanced eating regime

Are those extra pounds really getting on your nerves? Slimming diets should be avoided completely while breastfeeding. You can still eat to look good without dieting. In addition, the stressful time with a baby is completely unsuited to depriving yourself. At the moment you need your strength and steady nerves. Now, too, you should eat according to your needs and your baby’s needs. The Local Food Guide shows you which foods you need and in what proportions, in order to ensure that you are getting enough of all the nutrients and nutritional building blocks. If you are breastfeeding you need up to 650 calories a day on top of this, so that both you and your child are getting enough of everything you need. In addition, it is important to drink an extra 1 litre of fluid a day over and above the recommended 1.5 to 2 litres, in order to aid milk production. The best fluids to quench your thirst are water, e.g. Nestlé PURE LIFE, sugar-free teas, e.g. NESTLÉ MamAlete Stilltee, or fruit juice spritzers.

Supplies for when things get stressful

Sometimes your baby will leave you no time to cook. Keep a supply of fresh fruit, raw vegetables, muesli, bread, wholegrain cereal flakes and milk to hand. You can always nibble on fruit and vegetable sticks in between. Fruit is delicious, refreshing, low in calories and contains many essential vitamins and minerals. Sandwiches – ideally made from wholegrain bread – are quick to make. Quickly pour milk over wholegrain cereals, e.g. NESTLÉ CEREALS, and you’ve got a delicious meal in a flash. Wholegrain products are healthy, will fill you up, and are good for the digestion – because wholegrain cereals, like fruit and vegetables too, contain lots of fibre.

Breastfeeding helps the uterus to retract

Breastfeeding is not only best for the child, but is also good for helping the uterus and pelvic floor to retract. The release of the hormone oxytocin in connection with the act of breastfeeding supports the process. You will, for example, notice this by a pulling in your abdomen when you lay your baby to the breast and it starts to suck.