At one time, pregnancy and postpartum exercises did not exist. Did you know that pregnant ladies were even told to not lift their arms above their heads for fear of tangling the babies’ umbilical cord?
Every woman will have her own pregnancy experience, and likewise her postpartum recovery rate will be a personal journey and depend on factors related to her health and any complications that may have occurred during delivery.
It’s always a good to talk with your doctor before starting any fitness program post-baby to make sure your body is ready for exercise, particularly if you had any incisions from surgery, such as a Cesarean section. It is important that they have sufficiently healed, and that you also feel ready to start moving. Start slowly with gentle progression of exercise intensity and duration.
If you had a vaginal delivery, your doctor may suggest that it is okay to start trying some gentle exercises a little earlier than those women who have had a Cesarean section – especially if you have been active during your pregnancy.
I’ve listed below 7 Gentle postpartum exercises that you can do to strengthen your core, pelvic floor and back, which is very important after giving birth. I started doing these exercises one week after having my second baby, however I maintained an active pregnancy. I also wore a medical grade postpartum girdle while doing these exercises, which you may like to try after speaking with your medical practioner (not to be confused with a waist shaper or waist trainer).
Please keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, so don’t be discouraged if you need more rest. Rest is very important for your body to recover. You have afterall just made a human life!
Here are some signs you may be over-doing it, and should stop exercises-
- If your bleeding had started to slow down and gets heavier during exercises, it may mean you still need more time to heal.
- You feel discomfort or pain
- You feel dizzy or weak
1. WALL STRETCH - POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Stand facing a wall from several feet away.
- Stagger your stance, placing one foot forward.
- Lean forward and rest your hands on the wall, keep your heel, hip and head in a straight line.
- Heel stays on the ground. Hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.
2. PELVIC TILT - POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent.
- Flatten your back against the floor by tightening your abdominal muscles and bending your pelvis up slightly- pull your belly button in towards your back.
- Hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat
3. KEGALS - POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for ten seconds, and then relax for five seconds.
- Keep your back against the floor and pull your belly button in towards your back.
- If this is too difficult try 5 seconds hold with 5 seconds rest.
4. MODIFIED CRUNCH - POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Slide one leg down until it’s laying straight on the floor. Slide back up to start.
- Repeat with other leg. Keep your back flat against the ground, no arching.
5. SUPINE REVERSE PELVIC MARCHING- POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Lie on your back on the floor in a bent-knee position with feet placed firmly on the floor, arms outstretched to your sides.
- Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine.
- Pull your shoulders back and down without arching your spine.
- Exhale, deepen the abdominals and slowly lift one foot off the floor.
- Keep the knee bent at 90-degrees. DO NOT straighten the knee.
- Continue moving until the thigh reaches or comes close to a position where it aligns vertically to the floor.
- DO NOT go beyond this position. Hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds.
- With control, slowly return your leg to the floor.
6.BIRD DOG - POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Come to a hands and knees position on an exercise mat with your knees underneath your hips and the wrists underneath your shoulders.
- Engage your core and abdominal muscles. Avoid excessive sagging or arching.
- Pull the shoulder blades toward your hips. Slowly lengthen the rjght leg until its straight out.
- Lift the leg off the floor until it is at or near parallel to the floor. The leg should not be lifted above hip height.
- Slowly raise and straighten left arm. Attempt to raise the left arm until it is at, or near parallel, to the floor. Keep both shoulders parallel to the floor.
- Your head is an extension of your spine and should remain aligned with the spine throughout the movement. Do not lift the head or let it sag downward.
- Gently lower yourself back to your starting position, maintaining balance and stability in the shoulders, pelvis and torso.
7. CAT / COW - POSTPARTUM EXERCISE
- Come to a hands and knees position on the floor with your knees underneath your hips and your wrists directly underneath your shoulders.
- Tighten your core and abdominal muscles. Avoid any excessive sagging or arching.
- Pull the shoulder blades toward your hips. Gently exhale.
- Tuck your tail under and use your abdominal muscles to push your spine upwards towards the ceiling, making the shape of an angry cat. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Lengthen your neck and allow your head to reach toward your chest, maintaining alignment with the spine.
- Using the abdominal and low back muscles, tip your tail toward the ceiling, increasing the arch in your mid and low back. Allow the abdomen to stretch toward the floor.
- Pull your shoulder blades down your back. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to your starting position.
Download a Body Transformation Guide
Once you are ready to resume regular exercise, ease your way in. Start with small amounts, and use lighter weights.
I have a 12 week Body Transformation Fitness and Nutrition Guide that I personally have done post-partum. My Body Transformation Guides can be done at home with one set of dumbbells to regain strength and muscle tone.
#Content in this article has been contributed by Sam Stearns, who is responsible for all images sent and used, and the content that has been published for this article. Please apply credit to Sam when referencing this article.
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