bouncing back after pregnancy
bouncing back after pregnancy

The Dangers Of Bouncing Back Too Quickly After Pregnancy

Posted on August 16, 2023 by Henry Ford Health Staff

Celebrities make it look all too easy. One minute they’re sporting an adorable little baby bump. And the next they’re holding an adorable baby—with a body that looks like it was never pregnant. It’s no wonder that many women also assume they’ll bounce back within days of leaving the hospital.

“We are so often surrounded by unrealistic expectations of how we should look after giving birth,” says Andrea Altomaro, CNM, a certified nurse midwife at Henry Ford Health. Social media can make it even harder to know what’s realistic and what isn’t. “Thanks to filters and auto-tuning apps, the photos you’re seeing may not even be how those people really look,” says Altomaro.

Take It Slowly

Giving birth, even when everything goes smoothly, causes some trauma to your body. Not only has your body just pushed out an infant, it has also passed the placenta. “The placenta is a large organ that leaves a wound on the uterus,” says Altomaro. Having a difficult delivery or a C-section means your body has even more healing to do.

Those first few weeks after giving birth are crucial to the healing process. “Resting and giving your body a chance to recover can actually help you heal sooner than if you push yourself too quickly,” says Altomaro.

She recommends decreasing any unnecessary physical activity during the first two to three weeks after your baby is born. “You don’t have to be totally sedentary,” she says, “but you should spend most of your time resting and taking care of your baby.” Trying to exercise with any intensity too soon can be detrimental. You could impact your milk supply, worsen any separation of your abdominal muscles and affect your pelvic floor function.

“You need your body to fully heal and be functioning normally before you add the stress of intense exercise,” says Altomaro. After those first few weeks, gradually adding in exercise can help you regain strength.

If you have separation of your abdominal muscles, she recommends seeing a physical therapist for specific post-natal exercises. A physical therapist can also help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles post-pregnancy to prevent urine leakage.

Avoid Extreme Measures To Get Your Body Back After Pregnancy

Midwifery at Henry Ford

Learn more about how a midwife can provide care before, during and after pregnancy.
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Remember that it took nine months to grow your baby. So it’s unrealistic to expect your body to go back to baseline in a matter of weeks. “Slow and steady weight loss is the way to go,” says Altomaro.

Many women (sometimes inspired by celebs or social media influencers) try more extreme measures to get their bodies back after pregnancy. One popular, but not recommended, solution is the so-called “waist trainer.” This device is like a very tight corset that covers the entire abdomen. “But it can be harmful to your recovery because it holds your body up without you having to engage and strengthen your deep transverse abdominal muscles,” says Altomaro.

Severe calorie restriction—or using diet drugs—are also not the best approach to getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight. “If you’re breastfeeding, you shouldn’t go below 2,000 calories a day or it will affect your milk supply,” says Altomaro.

Be Kind To Yourself

One of the most important parts of recovery after giving birth is taking care of your mental health. “Pregnancy and birth change your body so much that you might feel almost unrecognizable to yourself,” says Altomaro. Add to that the idealistic images of new moms you see in the media, and it’s no wonder you may feel a bit down about your post-baby body.

She suggests unfollowing any social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. “It’s really important to recognize what’s not healthy for you right now,” she says. “It’s too easy to get sucked into other people’s social media and think ‘there’s something wrong with me.’”

Instead of obsessing over the scale or even how your clothes fit, Altomaro recommends reframing your mindset. “Instead of worrying about what size you can fit into, focus on how you can be strong and healthy for your family and new baby.”

Reviewed by Andrea Altomaro, a certified nurse midwife who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center - Royal Oak.

Categories : FeelWell

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