What you need to know:
- Kegel exercises are popular pre and postpartum exercises.
- They can also be done by men.
During the gestation period, your partner can gain up to 25 kilograms. After delivery, she could also add on more weight as she struggles to balance between eating well for the baby and healing. It is no wonder that many women are concerned about ever getting back their pre-pregnancy weight after delivery.
How can you help her get back to shape? What exercises can you do together?
Exercises can begin at least six weeks post-delivery. However, don’t set timelines for your partner because although simple exercises can begin after six weeks, there are women whose bodies require up to three months to heal. In addition, obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Janet Thuthwa, says your partner should not attempt any exercise routine if she is still bleeding on and off, or if she is experiencing back pain.
If the pregnancy was problematic or if the baby came via cesarean section, encourage your partner to keep off vigorous exercises. She shouldn’t do exercises such as abdominal curls, sit-ups, or chin-to-chest because these will stretch abdominal muscles.
Fasting to lose weight is not an option. Your partner needs to stick to a healthy and nutritious diet that can maintain the baby on exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.
“The first six months are critical for the baby. Instead of fasting to lose weight, encourage your partner to take short walks because that is the first step to postpartum exercises,” says nutritionist MaryAnn Mwanthi.
Once your partner is comfortable with walking exercises, she can add low-impact exercises such as yoga, pilates, aqua aerobics, and simple swimming similar to what she did in her third trimester.
Kegels for the two of you
Kegel exercises are popular pre and postpartum exercises. They can also be done by men. After delivery, Kegels will help your partner strengthen her pelvic floor muscles which support the urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum.
“Apart from dealing with urinary incontinence and diminished bladder control, Kegel exercises also firm the tissues around reproductive organs,” Anastasia Wangui, a physiotherapist says.
Start Kegel exercises when the bladder is empty.
“Let her picture herself simultaneously trying to prevent herself from passing gas and stopping urine flow in order to close and draw up her front and back passages. She shouldn’t pull in her abdomen, tighten her behind, hold her breath or squeeze her legs together,” she says, “A man doing Kegel can start by pulling in their pelvic floor muscles intermittently for five seconds, at least ten times. This is done by simulating the act of pulling in and lifting up their genitals.”
During pregnancy, your partner may develop a gap in her abdominal muscles. This can hinder her post-baby weight recovery. Usually, it’ll take about four to eight weeks after delivery for the gap to close. To find out if your partner developed a gap or not, or if it has closed, have her:
1). Lie on her back with knees bent and back flat on the floor.
2). Place the fingers of her left hand just above her belly button. With the left palm facing her, have her place the right hand on her upper thigh.
3). Take a deep breath and as she exhales, lift her head and shoulders off the floor. Slide her right hand up her thigh toward her knee. Her abdominal muscles will tighten, allowing her to feel the abdominal gap where the muscles have separated.
Here are some simple exercises you can do with your partner
Pelvic Rocking: Lie on your back with your arms spread out on your sides. Bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the ground. Tighten your abdomen and attempt to flatten your back on the floor. Hold for a count of ten, relax and repeat at least ten times.
Knees Rolling: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Roll your knees slowly to one side, keeping your shoulders flat, then roll to the opposite side. Repeat the exercise at least ten times.
Knees to the abdomen: Lie on your back with your arms spread out on your sides. Bend one knee and thigh until your heel touches your behind. Straighten your leg and lower it slowly to the floor. Repeat the routine with the other leg.
Behind lift: Lie on your back with your arms spread out on your sides. Bend your knees with feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise your behind and arch the back. Lower slowly and lift to form a movement. Repeat the lowering and lifting at least ten times.