As a new mom it’s important to take time after welcoming your baby into the world to focus on loving, bonding, and healing. Getting back to your pre-baby workouts — or a new routine altogether — could take some time. And that’s OK.
However, there are some exercises that can and should be done immediately postpartum to help your body heal well.
I advise postpartum mamas to follow my 4R Post-Pregnancy Protocol.
What are the 4 Rs?
These are all important steps to feeling more comfortable in your body, allowing your body to truly heal itself from the inside out, and getting back to the gym in a strong, safe manner in due time.
Today, we’ll touch on the rehab portion of this series.
3 exercises to help your body regain optimal function after baby
Regaining function of the body is really where your focus post-pregnancy should be, or you can get into the tricky territory of struggling with core and pelvic floor issues for much longer than necessary.
You can do Exercises 1 and 2 from the first few days postpartum. Add Exercise 3 after the first 10 days or 2 weeks postpartum, if you’re feeling comfortable.
Exercise #1 — Core + Floor Connection Breath
What to do?
As you inhale, it should feel like your ribcage, belly and the base of your pelvis (think: around the vagina and anus) are gently filling up with air.
As you exhale, breathe the air out of the ribcage, the belly, and the base of your pelvis.
Do 2 sets of 10 breaths daily. You can do the breaths in any position: sitting, side lying, standing, or lying on your back. Of these four position, it should feel easiest in the lying or side-lying position. Sitting will be slightly more challenging, and standing will be the most difficult of the four positions.
Why do it?
It will help you regain tone throughout your entire core. In my opinion, the core in a postpartum body = the Core + Floor Five (the diaphragm, the abdominals, the muscles that support the spine, the pelvic floor muscles, and the glutes).
Doing a million crunches or contractions of the pelvic floor (e.g. kegels) will not help you train the whole core.
You will learn how to gain and release tension in the abdominals and pelvic floor.
Your inhale breath will help to release tension, and your exhale breath will help to gain tension in those muscles and connective tissues.
Exercise #2 — Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch with Overhead Reach
What to do?
Get into a short lunge stance on the floor, with both knees at a 90 degree angle
Place your weight evenly on both legs, or more so slightly on your back leg
Squeeze your back leg’s glutes tightly, so you feel a stretch along the front, through the hip flexors and the quadriceps
Whichever knee is on the floor, reach that arm up in the air. Stretch your finger tips up towards the ceiling, and then take a gentle side stretch over the front leg side. You will feel a nice openness through the side of the ribcage.
Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps each side daily.
Why do it?
It teaches your body stability, as the position itself is a bit unstable. You’ll really need to squeeze your glutes to feel stable over the back leg.
It’s a really nice opening side stretch for the diaphragm and the ribcage which can become cramped and stiff through mama duties!
Exercise #3 — Squat
What to do?
Stand tall and inhale as you prepare to sit back, into the hips.
Think about squatting “between” your legs. Your feet will be slightly turned out, and the knees will track outwards slightly following the line of the feet.
Squeeze your glutes and quadriceps to stand up, exhaling as you return to the standing position.
Do 2 sets of 10 squats daily.
Why to do it?
You will maintain good mobility and movement through your pelvis.
You will regain core stability through the whole core by controlling the movement as you lower into the squat and stand back up from the bottom with power.
When you use the breath to inhale down and exhale up, the abdominals and pelvic floor go through the motions of undergoing a stretch and then a contraction.
There you have it! Three must-do exercises from the Rehab part of my 4R Post-Pregnancy Protocol. If you’re a new mom, I urge you to start doing these simple exercises.
Remember, you can do Exercises 1 and 2 from the first few days postpartum, and Exercise 3 after the first 10 days or 2 weeks postpartum, if you’re feeling comfortable.
Exercises To Do And Avoid During And After Pregnancy
There are so many myths about exercising during and after pregnancy, it can be hard to know if you’re doing the “right” thing. Our education materials are carefully vetted by OB/GYNs, PhDs, Registered Dietitians, Women’s Health Physiotherapists, and Pre and Postnatal Exercise Experts, and we have put together this FREE handbook where you’ll learn:
The best exercises to do during and after pregnancy
Exercises to avoid during and after pregnancy
Whether you’re a mom (or a mom-to-be), or a trainer (who may also be a mom), we have you covered. Select from these options below to receive your free handbook to help you or your clients choose the right exercises for healthy moms and healthy babies.
About The Author: Jessie Mundell
Jessie Mundell is a certified kinesiologist and a Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach, as well as an author and mother. She specializes in pre- and postnatal exercise and corrective exercise. Learn more about Jessie on her website and connect with her on Twitter.